Gottfried: "We Understand The Challenge"

NC State head coach Mark Gottfried discusses the win over North Carolina and Tuesday's matchup against Virginia with the media.

Opening Statement:
Well, we've got a pretty big challenge, obviously, Tuesday night. I think Tony has a team playing pretty well, and he does such a great job in how they play and their style and how they defend teams.

We see it as a big challenge. We also think we're at a point where we have to take the next step and be able to win difficult, tough road games in tough atmospheres, which we're going to have I'm sure on Tuesday.

We understand the challenge that lies ahead of us.

Could you share your thoughts on who your top glue guy in this year and just what exactly it is that that guy does for you on the court and maybe doesn't necessarily end up in the box score?
Oh, that's an interesting question. I think that-- I don't know that we have one glue guy. That's a term, I think, that gets thrown around a lot. You know, so I don't know how to answer that.

I think we have a lot of guys that do a lot of different things for our team, and if you want to have a good team, you'd better have a lot of glue guys to do the things that go unnoticed a lot.

I don't know that we have one guy like that.

Could you maybe-- maybe two guys, just a couple guys that maybe do something in particular that doesn't stand out to kind of the average fan or the average observer?
Well, like I said, I'm not going to make one up. I think all of our players have to take a charge defensively, get a defensive block out. I just don't know that there's one guy.

Usually when people throw that term around, it's a guy that's not that talented that figures out a way to help his team play. I just think that all your guys have to be like that, so I don't know if we have one or two guys. I'd like to think all of our guys are glue guys.

I just wanted to ask you, when you guys-- there's a lot of talk about when you beat Duke and North Carolina, the follow-up. Did you think you handled the Duke win well or badly, and if so, how does that relate to following up another big emotional win over North Carolina?
I think when we beat Duke, there was so much attention around our game, it was hard for us to get past it.

As the days followed, whether it was the wheelchair incident, whether it was people calling or texting from all over the country, it's hard to mentally move past it because you're getting a lot of attention.

I just think and hope that our players understand better that in this league you have to mentally move on quickly and get yourself prepared for your next opponent. And not that we weren't; I thought we were prepared, but it was an emotional toll. So hopefully we're better prepared.

Are you guys doing anything differently this time to make sure they're--
I don't know that there's any one thing you can do different. I was a good example myself. For three days after the Duke game I had 150 text messages and they kept coming from all over the country.

Even personally you're ready to move on, and I think now that you've done that, you're a little bit more used to handling that. But I think-- this is new territory for our team. This is uncharted waters. We've got a lot of guys that have not been in these type situations, and we're learning.

You'd better learn quick in this league, because just like Tuesday, we've got a monster type game against a really good opponent on the road, and so there's not much time to bask in the glory for any of us in this league.

Without giving a game plan or anything away, what are some ways to attack Virginia's defense, because they just seem to be strangling everybody.
Well, they're very, very good, and I think offensively you have to be very good, as well. As they execute their defense, you'd better execute your offense. I just think they're very good, and they execute defensively very well. I think offensively then you have to execute at a high level. I think if you don't, if you don't make sharp cuts and good screens and you're taking quick shots and bad shots, then I think they win out.

So what we've got to do is make sure we do the things we do well, but also understanding that's the type of game it's probably going to be.

What makes Richard Howell such a great rebounder?
Well, I think there's a lot of things. I think he has a great desire to go get the ball. I think he understands and anticipates a lot of times where the ball is going to be.

I think he has great hands, and he's got a great feel for how to rebound, but I think more than anything, it comes down to having the tools but also having the desire. I think he's got both.

I'd like your comment on what you see is the impact of freshmen on this particular game tomorrow.
Well, we've got a couple that we rely on heavily. I think Tony does, as well. I think for most teams in the league it's pretty similar, some more than others. But I think we live in an age, in an era where our freshmen need to play and play well earlier for everyone in college basketball.

That's just this world we live in somewhat. Hopefully ours will play well.

How about consistency? When you're playing younger players like that, does it kind of go back and forth, ebb and flow?
Well, most of the time young people, they're learning, and some young players, freshmen, learn quicker than others and become more consistent quicker.

But part of being a freshman is this is your first time through all this, first time to go on the road and go to a place like Virginia, first time to go through a long college season, first time to have the demands put on you of practice and class and all your responsibilities, first time everything is magnified at this level.

It's difficult sometimes for young people to be consistent with all that going on.

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