|N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried. Ethan Hyman photo|
This is both Gottfried's way of lowering expectations for a program that has been to the NCAA tournament five times in the past 20 years and his understanding of how to build a program.
After five years under Sidney Lowe, N.C. State needed a complete overhaul in work ethic, that includes both on game day and in the preparation for game day, particularly in the weight room and off-season.
The ACC is bad, and Gottfried understands that, so beating bad teams to get to 4-1 was never the point (or much of an accomplishment). It's how you prepare and how you play that matters, not what the other team does.
N.C. State got a 3-iron to the ear last night, instead of reminding his players that they have a "long way to go," Gottfried wisely instead chose to encourage his team.
(That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from a football coach. When ECU hired Ruffin McNeill, he said he was going to "hug 'em up and love 'em up and coach 'em up." This was Gottfried's version of the "hug 'em up.")
"I like my team," Gottfried said. "We have battled from Day One and I believe we will keep battling. Tonight's disappointing, we all agree, but we're a better basketball team than we were tonight."
No reason dwelling on the loss, as Gottfried pointed out, it was N.C. State's worst perofmance in 21 games (and UNC had a large part in that). With Virginia on deck (Saturday, 8 p.m.), State can't afford to let one loss turn into two.
-- J.P. Giglio