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February 13, 2012

Mark Gottfried excited about recruiting class

NC State coach Mark Gottfried didn't need the McDonald's All-American Game selections last Thursday to validate his thoughts on his first Wolfpack recruiting class.

NCSU signees Tyler Lewis, Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren, all earned spots in the game. Gottfried discussed his recruiting class and what NC State needs to do to reach the NCAA Tournament during Monday's weekly ACC teleconference.

Below is a transcript of what Gottfried said:

Opening statement:

"Well it's a big week for us. Our players are excited about the opportunity that is ahead of us. I'm sure they are anxious to play this week."

Do the upcoming games against Duke, Florida State and UNC, give your team a chance to cement your NCAA Tournament chances?

"I'm not talking about three games, I'm talking about one game. That is all we are worried about. I think a mistake that people make is they are grouping these three together. We have six very, very difficult conference games left, not three, six. We have one very difficult game Thursday and that is where our attention is. It isn't anywhere past one game."

Do you feel you have work to do to reach the NCAA Tournament?

"Without question. We have a long way to go. Like I said, at minimum, seven games left. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of games to be played. Our attention is not on anything other than Thursday's game."

Did Duke's Miles Plumlee's breakout game against Maryland change your game plan?

"He's been a very good rebounder. He had a great rebounding day [vs. Maryland], and will we definitely, he'll be a focus about in preparing on how they rebound the ball. We have to be a better rebounding team no matter who we are playing against. That hasn't been a strength of ours recently. We have to be much better. His performance was spectacular."

What did it mean to have three signees make the McDonald's All-American Game?

"We've got great opportunity here for young players. We have a new coaching staff. There is so much to sell here at NC State. The fact that they came tells me that they want to be a part of something really unique, and that is trying to build a basketball program back up. I don't know if it says anything bigger than that. We could have one of those or two of those guys maybe not make that game, but we'd still be extremely proud of the guys we got and excited about them coming, whether they are in that game or not. I think the fact that they are in that game brings more attention obviously to the group. We are excited about them."

What has it been like to clash on the recruiting trail with Duke and what impact will the game this week make?

"Oh, I don't know, are you saying the winner, the outcome of the game determines recruiting? Not necessarily. We have a long ways to go here. When I took the job back in April, I was told repeatedly quite frankly how mediocre we've been. That was drilled into me. At the same time, we have big dreams, big goals. We are going to compete hard on the floor. We are going to compete hard in recruiting. We are going to compete. Hopefully, we can keep improving."

Has the recruiting rankings showed that NC State can compete with Duke and UNC for recruiting success?

"I don't know if it's a statement. I don't want to make it more or less than it is. We are going to recruit really hard, and we are going to try and recruit great players. I think there is enough to sell at NC State to attract very good players. Whether every year you have McDonald's All-American's or not, I don't know. There are a lot of great players who have never played in the McDonald's All-American Game.

"We are going to recruit the guys that we think fit in here. If North Carolina and Duke, or Georgetown, doesn't matter, UConn happen to be recruiting those players, that doesn't mean that we are going to stop recruiting them and not try. We are going to continue to aggressively go after the guys that we would like to have here."

How has the seven-man rotation been going?

"First of all, every team is different. We have a couple more guys that I think could very easily be playing in our rotation. We just felt like the seven that are playing have really gotten into a good groove. Some of the advantages might be those seven are getting into great basketball shape, really a good rhythm. In other words, guys know when they are going in and who they are coming in for. It's really simple.

"Obviously, the disadvantages are if you are in foul trouble, and if somebody is not playing well, we've just hung in there with that seven. At the same time, I'm very confident if we need to go deeper in our bench with the guys that we have. Since the Syracuse game [Dec. 17], that is when we made that decision, and it has been pretty good for us up until this point."

The games where Richard Howell got into foul trouble make you confident the bench can be used?

"Yeah, but the foul trouble hurts us like it hurts anybody. It hurts us more because we aren't playing that many guys. Jordan Vandenburg was hurt for a lot of the year, and still is, so we are going to redshirt him. That took an interior guy that was in the rotation out. That became a tough thing to overcome. The three post players are all that we are going with now, and they are doing a nice job."

What is your reaction to have people putting NC State as one of the last four teams into the NCAA Tournament?

"As a former member of the media, one thing I do know, is Joey Brackets [Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com], who I love, his list will change at least 100 times between now and selection Sunday. All those things are fun and there is a lot of chatter between who is in and who is out. The way that you get into the tournament is to win games. You have to earn your way in. Outside of that being a fun thing to look at, there is not a lot of [other aspects]. I understand and there is going to be a lot of movement in those lists."

N.C. State NEWS


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