The Drive Tuesday 3-13-12- Taylor and Marc talk with the Wolfpack head coach about his teams reaction to making the tournament, how his team is playing now compared to the start of the season, and how his coaching style has changed since his days at Alabama.
Gottfried spent two years away from coaching basketball before returning as the NC State head coach, something he thinks is a big reason he has had such success with this team.
“When I was out of coaching and I [went around studying]…when you step back, you realize you can improve as a coach…sometimes it’s not adding more, it’s taking away some things, getting back to the coach I thought I was at Murray State and the first few years at Alabama…you wake up and realize [you get off what works and what you know]…getting back in to it gives you a fresh start…I am very appreciative of the time I had away from it.”
He said he owes a lot of the success to the confidence of his players, saying they continue to grow and learn off even the toughest of losses.
“I think when we went to Duke, and although we lost the game, we played at such a high level…our players realized, ‘Hey, if we can play this way, we can play with anybody, anytime, anywhere’…we had to come back emotionally and play Florida State…we played so much better against North Carolina the second time…our players, even though we lost a couple of games, our confidence was growing with how we were playing…“
When Gottfried first arrived at NC State, he said the players were skeptical of his practices but he quickly converted them after the first few wins of the season. The team, he felt, had been so battered after several rough seasons that growing their belief in a coach and themselves was key to strong play.
“There was a time where [my players] were hungry for a system that they felt could work…once we got in practice, they could see what we were doing…got in to games and they started to have success, at that point, they began to really trust and believe in our system…I’ve watched this system produce winning teams and [the players] just have to trust that…and they [definitely do now].”
Gottfried knew his team deserved to be in the tournament and was waiting to hear NC State called for the first 58 minutes of the broadcast with bated breath. He said the elation he felt can’t be replicated and he cannot wait to get out on the floor for the NCAA tourney.
“I felt like we still were going to be in the tournament…obviously Virginia and State had the same schedule, and we beat them head up…they had to look at our team and say, this team is worthy…they may not be a high seed but they certainly belong in the tournament…North Carolina is a very, very, good team…[look at how we played against powerhouse teams]…we’ve played against the best teams, we’ve taken everybody’s shot…our players feel very confidence in us heading in to the tournament…”
Gottfried is optimistic about his upcoming game against San Diego State. He is well versed on their team and knows they have power players to watch, but believes he can be the first to bring NC State to the Sweet 16.
“We’re going to have our hands full against San Diego State…they are going to walk in with some swagger. They went to the Sweet 16 last year, and they can act like they’ve been there before-we haven’t.”