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January 14, 2014
T.J. Warren learning, adjusting to new go-to role
NC State men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried didn't burn the video from last Saturday's 76-45 home loss against Virginia, but he does want the players to learn from their mistakes.
NC State returns to action at Wake Forest at 9 p.m. Wednesday, with the opportunity to win its fourth straight road game.
Gottfried had his weekly ACC teleconference appearance Monday. Below is a transcript of what he said:
"Well, we have a big challenge. I think Wake Forest, we all know they play extremely well at home. Watching their North Carolina win, they were very, very good.
"We have to get regrouped after a very difficult day Saturday and get ourselves ready to play on the road Wednesday night."
When your team comes off a really bad game like that against Virginia, do you just burn that game film or do you show it to them?
"I think there are a lot of things to think about. What kind of a team do we have? We're a young team. This is not a veteran team. No. 1, we have to stay and get our team into a very confident place. We're going to be really positive with our team. That's my approach.
"You have to remember only one game ago, just one game ago, we went on the road and beat Notre Dame, so let's not push the panic button. And on the other hand, you want to teach. I think it's important as a coach to teach your guys what went wrong, so we do want to watch some of the tape. We want to watch certain things and show our guys what happened so they truly understand what we failed to do defensively or offensively in that game.
"I'm not the kind of coach that beats my team down and berates them. I've never believed in that. These are my guys. I recruited them. We had a difficult day. We have to get ourselves back up, and we have to get ourselves ready to play on the road."
Did Virginia do anything against T.J. Warren that other teams have not done?
"I thought they were extremely physical, and T.J. did not play through that well enough. They made it a point to step in the path every time he made a cut, even when he didn't have the ball in his hands. They made it a point to, away from the ball, be physical with him. He has to learn that teams are going to defend him different ways, and that's one way they tried to really bother him."
Wake Forest has won 11 in a row at home, but what is the mentality of winning on the road?
"We seem to be, we play very sound basketball, and we have had a great togetherness on the road. We've played with great purpose and that's something we need to continue to do. We have to do it on Wednesday night.
"We're defending as a team, five guys all working together, the things you want to do every night. We've been able to have some poise, some resiliency and bounce back when people make runs. You have to continue that to have a chance on Wednesday night."
Coach, I'm struck by the volatility in the league this year. What causes the wild swings we've seen all over the league?
"I don't know if there's one answer, so I'm guessing, but a lot of times when you have a lot of young players, and you look around the league, even Duke, they have young players. People forget that [Jabari] Parker is a freshman, and those type of things. Watching North Carolina, they are playing young guys. We're playing young guys. Sometimes you can be very high and very low. I don't know if that's all the reason for it, but I believe it's a contributor."
Virgina, are they maybe playing as well as anybody in the league right now?
"Well, here's what happens I think in college basketball. Pittsburgh has the same thing that Virginia does. When your better players are seniors or fifth-year seniors, it changes your team. Your team has a maturity that some other ones don't.
"When you look at [Lamar] Patterson and [Talib] Zanna for Pittsburgh, and you look at [Joe] Harris and [Akil] Mitchell for Virginia, you're looking at upperclassmen playing the key roles. Those guys have played 120-somethign basketball games at our level, and I think when your best players are upperclassmen, it changes the makeup of your team. Virginia has that right now."
Can you assess the way freshman point guard Anthony Barber has played to this point in the season?
"I think he's played pretty well this year. I do think in the last four or five games, he isn't shooting the ball at a higher percentage that he needs to. Some of that is he's trying to force the action and trying to find opportunities to score. Sometimes they are not there.
"He has to learn when to look for his shot and when not to, but overall he's had a good year so far. But we do need him to shoot the ball at a much higher percentage than he is right now."
With T.J. is this just part of the process with him becoming the go-to guy on your team?
"First of all, he is human. The guy has been pretty consistent for our team, and he had a tough day. It is a different role for him. Teams are keying on him.
"Last year when we had [C.J.] Leslie and [Richard] Howell, Scott Wood and [Lorenzo] Brown, he was a guy that maybe they weren't paying as much of attention to every night. Now teams are gearing their entire defensive game plan around him, so it is a different role for him. But he has been pretty good for us and pretty consistent outside of this last game."
How different is it for him from last year?
"It is different. It's much different when you're that player and you have to realize that. Our team, we rely on him to score, but we have other guys that have to step up and score too when they take some things away from T.J. Different role for him completely this year from last year."
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