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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: COLUMBUS


March 15, 2012


Lorenzo Brown

Mark Gottfried

C.J. Leslie

C.J. Williams


COLUMBUS, OHIO

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by North Carolina State student‑athletes Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Williams, and C.J. Leslie.テつ Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ For any of the players, Lorenzo, let's go first, was it a little nerve‑racking when you hadn't seen your name pop up in the brackets until the very end?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ It was definitely nerve‑racking to see that.テつ We were the last team called.テつ It's nerve‑racking for anybody.テつ But we just prayed and we got through at the end.

Q.テつ Lorenzo, during the little tail spin you guys had, you were playing good teams, what went wrong there that you guys fixed in the last couple of weeks, if you had to put it in a nutshell for people who haven't seen you too much?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ I mean, last couple of plays for the UNC game we kind of like got our stuff together and just played together, and, I mean, they made some tough shots at the end.テつ They're a good team.テつ And we can't do anything about that right now.
But we're just playing in this tournament and work hard.

Q.テつ But then Clemson, they're not a great team.テつ Did you get sideways, or what happened there?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ They made some good shots towards the end of the game.テつ Once a team is making good shots, it's hard to stop someone from making tough shots.

Q.テつ C.J. Williams, the Aztecs play a four‑guard offense fairly extensively.テつ How uncommon is that for you guys to deal with, and is there any team that you faced that's similar to that?
C.J. WILLIAMS:テつ I can't think of a team in particular.テつ But I feel that we have four guys on the perimeter, including C.J. Leslie, that can guard any position 1 through 4.
So I think we match up pretty well with them.テつ They're a very talented team. テつThey've got guys that can score the basketball.テつ We've got to go out on defense and kind of shut them down.

Q.テつ C.J. Williams, this is the first time you've gone through this whole process where you have to‑‑ all of a sudden you're playing a team, you've never heard of them, probably never seen them.テつ I mean, as fans, do you ever see these guys?テつ Do you stay up and watch West Coast games?
C.J. WILLIAMS:テつ Personally I do.テつ I've seen them play a couple times.テつ I watched them in their conference tournament.テつ I remember the shot that‑‑ I don't know which player it was, but he hit at the end of the game to win the game for them.
You know, they were ranked during the season.テつ So you see them on TV, watch their highlights.

Q.テつ Did you strike that as funny that you happened to be watching that game, or is that something you do all the time, just as a fan?
C.J. WILLIAMS:テつ I'm just a fan of college basketball.テつ I've been a fan since I was little.テつ I grew up in ACC country.テつ I'm used to watching college basketball all the time.

Q.テつ As a guy that grew up watching so much college basketball, what's it like for you to play in this tournament?
C.J. WILLIAMS:テつ One thing I will say is during the Selection Show, I was getting a little worried as our name wasn't popping up yet.
I knew this is my senior season, so this is my last chance to get to the NCAA Tournament.テつ But now that I'm here, I'm just glad and I'm focused on what we have to do to win the game.

Q.テつ C.J. Leslie, do you feel that at times NC State doesn't get its due, it gets lost because of the other great teams that are in Carolina?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ No, I think we know who we are.テつ We know who we are.テつ We just gotta keep playing.テつ We know we're on the stage, we're growing, and we're just working on getting better and better.

Q.テつ You've never been here before, and San Diego State, pretty much their entire team has played in at least one, maybe two of these, and they're very different than regular season game.テつ Are you concerned about that, and if not, why not?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ We try not to worry about it's been our first time here.テつ We just come out and try to play our best.テつ I mean, we know they're a great team.テつ We know there's a lot of great teams in this tournament.テつ But we just try to worry about us.
C.J. WILLIAMS:テつ We have a tendency to focus on what our game plan is each game, and really it all‑‑ it's a little different feel than a regular season game.
But it all comes down to still playing basketball.テつ This is a game we've been playing since we were little.テつ And it really just comes down to who has the will to win and just playing basketball.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, like you said, we've never been here before, so we never know what it can be like.テつ But I'm sure by halftime we'll figure out everything we need to.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.
We're joined by head coach Mark Gottfried.テつ Coach, an opening statement.
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, obviously, like every team, we're excited to be here, and we feel like we're a team that has played our way into the NCAA Tournament.テつ Our guys are excited, but I think they got a lot of respect obviously for San Diego State.テつ It's the greatest show on earth.テつ I've always said that.テつ So it's a privilege to be a part of it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions.

Q.テつ You've been here before obviously.テつ What's the message to the kids who haven't?テつ None of your guys have.テつ What do you tell them about this experience and sort of these circumstances?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ First of all, we talk about it a lot throughout the year.テつ This is the goal, is to play in this tournament and obviously to advance in the tournament.
And I want our team‑‑ we talked yesterday about staying hungry.テつ We found ourselves in a position where our backs were against the wall late.テつ We had that same mentality.テつ You can't just be happy to be here.
And so that's where our guys mentally, I think that's where they are.

Q.テつ How does the longer timeouts and the longer halftime impact your substitution pattern in the tournament, and is fatigue less of a factor than it might be in a normal game?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think it is.テつ I think the fact that the timeouts are longer, halftime is longer.テつ I think even as a coaching staff you have to slow down a bit here inside of timeouts, because they are longer.テつ You can run out of things to say in a timeout.テつ There's only so much your team can grasp.
But I don't think it will change anything with our team.テつ We've played seven guys.テつ We'll play eight every now and then anyway.テつ Probably helps us a little bit.
But it becomes a little bit different game because it's harder to maintain a run.テつ If you're on a spurt, those timeouts really‑‑ because they're so long, I think they can stop some of that.

Q.テつ So what do you say to the guys when you've got too much time on your hands in the timeouts?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, I think first most of the time you'll see coaching staffs now meet for a few minutes or a few seconds and gather our thoughts, let the players gather their thoughts.テつ Just depends on the time of the game, what's happening in the game.テつ There may be a time that you do have a lot to say to them.
But at the same time I think it is an opportunity to get rested, because they are longer.

Q.テつ You guys are a pretty quick‑tempo team, you had some quick‑tempo teams the end of your tenure in Alabama.テつ This tournament by and large doesn't seem to be friendly to that.テつ Maybe that's not your opinion.テつ What do you try to do in that realm?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think when you get to this time of the year, the die is cast on who you are, you're not going to reinvent your team and change after 33 games and become somebody you're not.
So we want to be a team that tries to find opportunities to push the ball up the floor and run.テつ And I think what's happened to our team this year is we've had a number of games where the pace hasn't been fast and we've still been pretty good.テつ So I think to win in this tournament you have to be good if the game is at a fast pace.
But you have to be good if the game settles into a half court game, you have to be able to execute and defend from the top of the key to the baseline on both ends of the floor.
So I think this team has learned how to do that.テつ That's not a concern for me.

Q.テつ NC State's won a couple national championships.テつ Is that something that you summon at this time of year, or is that just ancient history and doesn't have anything to do with today's game?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I don't know if I summoned it.テつ But Dereck Whittenburg spoke to our team prior to us going to the ACC Tournament.テつ Our banners, national championship banners are hanging in our gym.テつ Our guys see them every day.
And they understand the tradition and history of NC State.テつ Been in three Final Fours, won two national championships.テつ So our players are very well aware of that.

Q.テつ You have some sophomore starters and juniors up there.テつ As you start building this program, what does this experience mean for the future?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think it does a great deal for the credibility of our program.テつ It's a new staff.テつ New system.テつ We're recruiting hopefully a high‑level player.テつ We think it's a high‑level guy.
And I think you can and sell to recruits this is where we're going to go.テつ Here's the picture.テつ But then when you get yourself to the tournament, I just think it gives credibility to that.
So we understand we got a long way to go.テつ This particular group has exceeded most everybody's expectation.テつ But it's certainly something we can build on for the future.

Q.テつ You've obviously been on both sides of this, being a very experienced coach in the tournament, your players haven't been here.テつ What advantages are there for players who have been here two and three years, played in three and four games?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ The only‑‑ I don't know sometimes if there really is an advantage.テつ Now, common sense would say there is.テつ You know, the first time you come to the tournament, you know, all of this type of stuff, the media attention, the hoopla around the games, you know, it's something that you're experiencing the first time.テつ And obviously if you're a player you're looking around and taking it all in.
I'm sure once you've been through that once or twice, you know, those kind of things become old hat.テつ But then I look at teams every year that it's first time for those players.テつ You look at a VCU last year, I don't know if those players had been in that situation.テつ And they made a great run.
So the great thing about this tournament is regardless of experience or veteran team, young team, when the games start, anything can happen.テつ We've all seen it.テつ We've seen stories that none of us would probably expect.テつ That's the beauty of this tournament.テつ That's why I call it the greatest show on earth.テつ Anything can happen in this tournament.
And your players, our players, need to be as hungry as possible.

Q.テつ I don't know if you've watched ESPN lately, but Barack Obama picked you guys to go to the Sweet 16.テつ Maybe this is piggybacking off of a little bit of what you said, is once you get hot, it feels like you guys have the hot hand, and I'm just curious if you had any response or if you had seen that?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I actually sent Andy Katz a text this morning and I told him that the president's trying to get votes.テつ I'm trying to get wins.テつ It's a little different.テつ So we respect his opinion.テつ But we understand this game will be decided once the ball goes in the air.

Q.テつ When you were a player, and after you transferred to 'Bama, all of a sudden you found yourself a sophomore in the NCAA Tournament.テつ Do you have any memories of that, or is that way, way back?テつ Tell us about how nervous you were, anxiety or maybe you weren't because you played pretty well.
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ As a player, I just remember being so excited to be a part of it.テつ I was a guy‑‑ you gotta remember now, my dad was a small college basketball coach.テつ He was the head coach of Southern Illinois, then he became an athletic director.テつ Our family vacations every year was the Final Four.テつ I went to Salt Lake City and watched Bird and Magic in 1979.テつ I was in Philadelphia in'81 when Isiah was the MVP in Indiana won it.
And so for me as a young guy‑‑ I've got two of my sons sitting right here, but that was me growing up.
So when I had a chance to play in the tournament, I mean, it was special for me.テつ And I remember it clearly.テつ I remember the first two years we went to three straight Sweet 16s, and the first two our team probably didn't believe we could go much farther.
My senior year in Alabama in'87 when Rick Pitino's team beat us in Louisville, we were a 2 seed.テつ I thought we were a Final Four team.テつ That one hurt.テつ Those memories never leave you.

Q.テつ Were you excited or anxious?テつ Have you tried to communicate any of that to your players that this is their first time?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I was excited, anxious.テつ I was all those things.テつ I think when the game starts, you know‑‑ I've always said that.テつ All the nervousness, I've always felt as a player, as an athlete, when the ball's in the air and the popcorn starts popping, players play.テつ And I think even our guys it's their first time.テつ They'll settle down into the game and they'll be anxious and ready to go.

Q.テつ Steve Fisher was saying that your father tried to hire him at one time and that you guys have a little bit of a relationship.テつ Can you talk about that and were you aware at the time that he might have come work for your dad?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Oh, yeah.テつ I've always had a great relationship with Steve when I was at UCLA.テつ We played the Fab 5 in Tucson in the NCAA Tournament.テつ Obviously recruited against those guys many times when he was at Michigan.
And over the years just become good friends.テつ As a matter of fact, my daughter, who is a freshman at NC State, was looking at San Diego State.テつ And last spring my wife and her flew out to San Diego and Steve met them at the office, and he had somebody show them the campus, that type of thing.テつ And he was very generous towards my wife and my daughter when they visited San Diego State.
So good friend.テつ Great coach.テつ All those things.テつ And obviously a lot of respect there.

Q.テつ You've talked before about how during the four‑game losing streak you guys continued to play at a high level.テつ I was wondering how you're able to keep the confidence up during that stretch and into the‑‑
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ A couple of things.テつ One, obviously we were playing some good teams.テつ The hardest part about that was the day after the Duke game.テつ We let a big lead get away.テつ It was a game I think our players felt they should have won, clearly.
We didn't.テつ And that next day was tough.テつ And it really carried into the next game, which was Florida State.テつ And we were not good that day.
But I think after that, you know, you go back‑‑ I think what probably helped us was the fact we played such a tough nonconference schedule, we played good teams from day one and played everybody great.
The only team that our first game with Carolina, they beat us pretty good.テつ Outside of that we've been in a position to win just about every game we've played all year.テつ So I think just reminding our team of that, we are a good team.テつ And we can still get better.
I think they responded to that.

Q.テつ You might have touched on this already, but can you talk about the battle of wills that's going to be going on here, with them being a smaller team on the inside trying to pull you guys out but you wanted to keep pulling them inside?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, a little bit like I mentioned before.テつ I think at this point in the year it's hard to change who you are.テつ They're really good when Franklin's at the 4 I think.テつ Now, they're also really good when they move him to the 3.テつ We've watched enough tape both ways.
And, again, we're kind of who we are right now.テつ I don't know that you change a lot at this point in the year.テつ What I like about their team probably more than that is even when they've been down in games, they've had a tremendous will to come back, and they have not allowed themselves to get buried at all.
So I got a lot of respect for the team we're playing.

Q.テつ When you took over you were talking about you have good players, not great players, but clearly there was a point sometime before the season started where you started talking about the 11 wins, we can get in.テつ Where was the point where you believed this could be an NCAA Tournament team?テつ What was the turning point in your mind?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I don't know that there was a turning point.テつ I'm just one of those guys that always believe you have a chance.テつ You always do.テつ And there's a lot of different ways that teams end up in the tournament.
Some years you just roll right through it.テつ You got a dominating team, you find yourself as a high seed.テつ There are other times, like us, I think we were‑‑ we heard that mantra many times.テつ If you don't win one of these three games coming up, then you ain't going in the tournament.
But we were a team that found a way to get in it regardless of that fact.テつ So it happens all kind of different ways.テつ And I've always thought this team had a chance.テつ Never cocky about it like we are a tournament team.テつ But I always felt like, hey, this team's got a chance.テつ We've just gotta keep slugging and swinging, maybe in the end we'll get there.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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