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


March 17, 2012


Lorenzo Brown

Mark Gottfried

Richard Howell

C.J. Leslie


COLUMBUS, OHIO

THE MODERATOR:テつ North Carolina State will be represented by C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell, and Lorenzo Brown.
Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Richard, over the years of college basketball, seems we're seeing fewer guys who really want to be big men.テつ We're seeing fewer true centers.テつ Could you talk about what's happening and why more guys are shying away from that center tag in college basketball?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ Honestly, I really don't know.テつ I don't want to be a center either (laughter).テつ But I feel like whatever Coach Gottfried wants me to do, that's what I'm going to do, whether it's play center or power guard and even point guard.

Q.テつ What is it about the tag center that just bothers guys?テつ What is it that you don't like about it?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I think it's just the word center, I guess.テつ I really don't know.

Q.テつ Richard, can you talk a little bit about what you've learned about Henry Sims over the past day and sort of how you plan to tackle that challenge?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ Well, we know he leads the team in assists as a center.テつ He's a very good passer.テつ So we feel like we can get up and pressure him and disrupt his passing, the game will go in our favor.

Q.テつ C.J., talk about the difference that Coach Gottfried has made with this team this year.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, he did a good job of just knowing everybody's personnel.テつ That's the start of it.テつ Just getting to know everybody and what they can do best.
And he do a great job in excelling what we can do best.

Q.テつ Did you think the success you've had this year was‑‑ did you envision this coming into the year?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ I can't even say I envisioned anything.テつ If it comes, it comes.テつ So I just go with it.

Q.テつ Richard, do you think sort of that thing that's happened with the center position‑‑ is much of that related to seeing the Kevin Garnetts and Kevin Durants, these guys that were 6'9", 6'11", at the next level who don't play the center position?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ Can you repeat that?

Q.テつ We talked about fewer centers at the collegiate level.テつ Do you think more guys don't want that label because they see the 6'10" guys like Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant, the guys at the next level who are the same size but they're playing small forward, they're not playing in the post necessarily?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I just feel like if you're 6'7", 6'8", and you have the ability to handle the ball like a guard, then that's something that your coach doesn't want to take away from you.
Like Calvin, he's 6'8", 6'9", and he can also put the ball on the floor just as good as any guard out there.テつ And I feel that's a plus with a lot of teams.

Q.テつ Did you watch the Georgetown game in person or did you watch it on TV, or how did you watch that?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I didn't watch it.
LORENZO BROWN:テつ I didn't watch the game either.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ I caught a little bit of the second half.

Q.テつ Will you guys look at video at all of them, or is it something the coaches parse that down and just tell you what they saw?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ We'll look at video, and we also in practice, in walk‑over‑‑ when we have walkthrough, our coach goes over every team's player and we go over their personnel and what they do best and what they can do and what they like to do.テつ That all goes with later on tonight we'll watch film.

Q.テつ C.J., in what you did see of Georgetown yesterday in that limited amount, did they remind you of anybody in the ACC you guys know well?テつ Is there anything about their offense or defense that looks familiar?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, I can't say that they remind us‑‑ if I would have had to pick a team out of the ACC, it would be Boston College.テつ But to go away from‑‑ out of the ACC, a team we played is Princeton that they remind us of.テつ So that's a very good comparison.
And we're just‑‑ I mean, we know that they like to stay in the 50s with the game, and we're kind of an up‑tempo team.テつ So our main thing is just to get our flow going and just get a fast‑paced game going.

Q.テつ Impose your tempo on theirs?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Right.

Q.テつ When you guys arrived at NC State as recruits, were you aware‑‑ I'm sure you must have been somewhat aware, but how much of the program's history lured you to come there and the idea of trying to resurrect a program and get it back to where the NC State fans wanted it to be?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ I mean, I really didn't know too much about the history of the school.テつ But, I mean, I knew these two guys for a long time.テつ And I knew Richard was there before I was there.テつ And C.J., we talked about it a lot.テつ And we just wanted to come out and play to the best of our abilities.
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I'm the same way.テつ I didn't really know too much about the history, but, like he said, I knew who was coming in and I knew what was there, and I felt like the coaches‑‑ well, they did put us in a great position.テつ Till they got fired.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ I'll be honest, growing up, the team‑‑ the school is 15minutes away from my house.テつ So I'm very familiar with a lot of the past players.テつ And I'm very familiar with the draw that we have and to get us back in the tournament is a big upside and has given our fans hope and it's letting us‑‑ it's letting us know we're getting better and better step by step.

Q.テつ C.J., as you were coming up and growing, did coaches try to make you sort of a pure post guy?テつ If so, did you resist that and why?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, I mean, I can say I was in the post a lot more than what I would like to have been.テつ But the main thing is the coach is the boss, and you have to do what he says.テつ It's his way or no way, and you have to realize that.
So the main thing for me, it was just do what he says, and that way we'll all be at ease.

Q.テつ C.J. and Richard, how would you describe Princeton's offense?テつ We've all seen it.テつ But, I mean, from your point of view dealing with it, would you describe it as unique, irritating, frustrating, whatever?テつ And, Richard, in dealing with specifically having to disrupt the center in that offense and all of the things that they ask them to do and how much responsibility is put on his shoulders, how would you describe that particular task?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, I would say that it's all of those of what you said.テつ It's every last one of them.テつ But it can be irritating.テつ It can be frustrating, it can be very unique because a lot of coaches still don't play that way.テつ So it's all of those.

Q.テつ Richard, just dealing with the center, they ask you to do a lot of things that most places would never dream asking their center to try to do.テつ Could you talk about the responsibility of having to disrupt the offense and what you have to do to get their offense disrupted playing against the center?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ Yeah, he definitely has a lot of pressure put up against him just because he's a center.テつ And basically he's playing a point from the half court offense.テつ He has the ball on top and he makes the plays for them.
And for us to get up there and pressure him and disrupt those passes I feel like is very key in this game so he won't just be able to pick us apart from the top of the key.

Q.テつ Richard, you alluded under your breath to the coaching change.テつ How has it been for you this year?テつ What changes have you seen and how did you think that was going to affect the program when they made that move?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ Honestly, I didn't know what to expect.テつ But I am grateful for the situation that Coach Gottfried came in.テつ I feel like it's a blessing.テつ The amount of confidence that he has in us is unbelievable.テつ And I feel like that's we're so good and we're playing together as a team.テつ It's a lot more discipline.

Q.テつ C.J., other than Coach Gottfried, does anyone call you Calvin?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I do.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ No.テつ No.テつ Coach Gottfried is the only one who calls me Calvin.
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ And Richard.

Q.テつ C.J., since you're from nearby Raleigh, I wanted to ask you if you had a sense at all what it means to NC State fans, just this past 24hours or 48hours that, first of all, you guys got the tournament bid, won a game.テつ I know it's been a while.テつ Do you have a sense back home how that's going over or what it means?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Well, if I was to guess, I would say that it's very exciting, I mean, to do something.テつ To bring a program where it hasn't been in a while is very exciting to all the fans.テつ And I would say we have some die‑hard NC State fans.
I know they're excited, very, very excited.テつ And I'm just happy that we can do that for them.

Q.テつ C.J., obviously you're still playing college ball now, when you think about your game at the next level, what position do you think you'd play as a professional?
C.J. LESLIE:テつ I could say I'll learn when I get there.

Q.テつ Follow‑up about being a fan.テつ You guys are busy preparing for these games and everything, but obviously yesterday was a storied day with all these upsets, Duke, Missouri and Michigan falling.テつ Do you guys get a chance to be a fan at all and watch any of these games?テつ If so, what was your reaction watching yesterday, a pretty historic day?テつ What was your reaction?
LORENZO BROWN:テつ I'd say the biggest shock to me was Missouri and Norfolk State game.テつ It was a hard‑fought game.テつ And Norfolk State did an excellent job executing their plays and just beating Missouri in the game.

Q.テつ Did you guys have any reaction to the type of day it was yesterday around the country?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ The biggest shock to me was definitely the Norfolk State‑Missouri game.テつ I didn't know who Norfolk State was coming into the game, but it definitely shows that they belonged in the tournament and that they can play in the tournament with teams like us or teams like Missouri.
C.J. LESLIE:テつ Yeah, I'll agree.テつ Missouri.テつ I was very good friends with Phil Pressey, so I know he's taking the loss very hard, but he's been playing well.テつ But it was definitely an upset and shocker to me.

Q.テつ What did you think of Duke losing?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I was very happy (laughter).

Q.テつ Richard, I think last time you played Georgetown you had a pretty good game.テつ What do you remember about that game, and is there any advantage in having a little bit of familiarity with personnel on the other team as opposed to maybe San Diego State that you didn't see very much of?
RICHARD HOWELL:テつ I know the one thing I can remember, it was very frustrating playing them, because they're the type of team who doesn't want to score 80 to 90points.テつ They don't want to get up and down the floor; they just want to play a very slow‑‑ a very slow‑paced game.テつ That's something we don't want to do.テつ We want to get up and down.
So it was very frustrating playing them.テつ But I feel like our defense is something that's going to have to step up again like last night and stop the backdoor cuts and all of those other things that they do.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.
We'll take an opening statement from Coach Mark Gottfried, and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ We're obviously excited to still be in the tournament, and at the same time I think our guys are really hungry.テつ And I have great respect for Georgetown.テつ We watched them on tape.テつ Really dove in there late last night.テつ And they're an excellent basketball team.
So this is a great challenge for our guys.テつ From where we were at the beginning of the year to where we are right now, we've improved a lot, we've gotten better, and I think our guys are really excited about playing.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions?

Q.テつ Coach, what do you attribute the improvement on defense for you guys, too, the last two weeks or so?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think that‑‑ I don't know that there's one thing.テつ I would think that we're guarding the ball much better, which has eliminated a lot of penetration.テつ Which earlier I thought was an Achilles' heel for our team.
I think we're better on the perimeter.テつ We're switching a little bit more than we did earlier, which I think has helped us.テつ I think this group has‑‑ I think they had figured out some things defensively that we want to do better than they did earlier, and I think our effort has been much better defensively as well.

Q.テつ Coach, can you just talk about the change that we see in recent years with fewer true centers being in the collegiate game?テつ Richard talked about not wanting that tag and C.J. suggested the same.テつ What's changed in college basketball that's led to that change?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think the fact that most of the big kids that are really talented, they enter the draft early.テつ We're all in this room old enough to remember Patrick Ewing going against Hakeem Olajuwon as upperclassmen in a Final Four.テつ Whether they were a junior and a senior, I can't remember, but they weren't freshmen.テつ They were older.テつ But, as a matter of fact, when "Never Nervous" Pervis was a freshman, it was a big deal because he was a freshman.テつ Those guys leave.テつ They're not in college basketball very often.
So the big guy in the college game is rare, and a lot of guys that are 6'8", 6'7", they have to play the post.テつ And just a different game now.

Q.テつ I've heard Bill Carmody at Northwestern say that the one advantage he thinks he has by running the Princeton offense is that it's really hard for teams to prepare just for them because what they do is a little bit different.テつ From a coaching standpoint, is it hard to play against a team that's a backcut team, like Georgetown likes to play also?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, it's difficult, because like you said, you don't see it all the time.テつ Now, I think here's where you gotta be‑‑ it's a little tricky.テつ In other words, when you get beat on a backdoor cut, sometimes we feel like that was an eight‑point play, just a two‑point play.テつ It's what they do.
They do that well.テつ Somebody else may just be the post and power it in and do that well.テつ They still‑‑ it's still just two.テつ But sometimes that backdoor cut, it just hurts worse.テつ So mentally you've got to understand that they're going to do what they do.テつ That's what they've practiced every day.テつ We're going to do what we do every day.テつ And we're not going to shut them out.テつ It's not going to be a shutout.
So they are going to score and they are going to score the way they score, but what we've gotta do is figure out in the short amount of time how to take certain things away, disrupt just like they're trying to do with us, the same things you do every game.テつ But that Princeton‑style offense, it gets us a little bit woozy every now and then because it's such a unique thing.

Q.テつ Obviously San Diego State, some opportunities inside for you guys, for Rich and C.J.テつ Georgetown, very different story.テつ What do you do, one, to get opportunities for the inside guys; two, on the perimeter; and, three, Scott Wood, how do you get him open against a team this big?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Here's one thing about our team this year‑‑ and we've talked a lot about our balanced scoring that our team has had‑‑ and I think we're the type of team that whatever for the most part whatever is there, we've been able to adapt and adjust throughout the game.
In other words, there are big games where we haven't scored inside but our perimeter guys have stepped up and they made a lot of shots.
Then yesterday was a game where I think once the game started, we got into the game.テつ We realized we could have some success inside.テつ Richard was playing well.テつ Calvin had a couple of nice plays early.テつ And then we started going to the well more often.
But in a different game, I think with our team, that's been one nice thing about our team.テつ We haven't had to have the same guys score every night for us to win a game.

Q.テつ By any metric they're an excellent defensive team.テつ What impresses you about Georgetown's defense?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think their length is impressive.テつ They move their feet extremely well.テつ They close down dribble penetration well.テつ They really help‑‑ they're quick, they're long, and obviously that's something that they take pride in their defense.
It's been interesting.テつ They're such a great man‑to‑man defensive team and recently they've been really good in their zone as well.テつ So I think they've added a second weapon defensively with the way they're zoning people.

Q.テつ First, C.J. Leslie sort of shows the growth that your whole team has over the year.テつ Could you just describe the process, like how do you turn the light bulb on for a kid like that, or what's the process for getting him to be where he is now?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think with Calvin, it's the same with just about every guy on our team.テつ You come in as a new staff.テつ They don't know you.テつ Most of them they'd never heard of me.テつ Because I had been out of coaching.
I think more than anything, over the course of the year just developing trust and a relationship.テつ And I've always believed that, when Calvin or Richard or Lorenzo begins to truly believe that this guy's in my corner, he's really trying to help me, he's coaching me really hard, he's getting after me in practice.
Sometimes it's uncomfortable.テつ But I think that those guys came to a point where they really decided to trust our staff.テつ I really do.テつ And Calvin especially.
And some guys it takes longer.テつ We're all different.テつ Some people trust you right off the bat, day one.テつ Other guys there's a wall there you can't penetrate that wall.テつ And you can feel it.
But I think there's been a lot of trust back and forth.

Q.テつ Follow‑up to the first one, you get that trust when they start to see certain things getting better, right?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ That helps.

Q.テつ Was there a point where little things C.J. or the team saw that, hey, this is working?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ You know, I can't recall a point, no.テつ But I think our players realize when we got there this year that things were going to be a lot different than they were.テつ There was going to be a lot more accountability.テつ And it was just a completely different atmosphere that they've had.テつ And it took a little bit of time at the beginning.
But I think that over time us winning some games, I've said this before, I think the schedule that we play forced everybody to get on the same page quicker, because you've got these challenging games.テつ And we played well in those games.テつ So all those things I think helped kind of bring it all together.

Q.テつ Just now that you've made the tournament, won a tournament game, do you need to sell the way you did in the fall?テつ Do you need to consider jumping out of an airplane next fall?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I'll probably still do that.テつ I actually wanted to do that.テつ I still think that that's something‑‑ we want to become a program that's relevant on the national scene.テつ And to do that, you know, jumping out of planes is great, but at the end of the day it's winning.テつ It's winning.テつ And we know that.テつ And that's what we need to consistently do over the next few years, not just because we won some games here.テつ That's not going to answer all the questions.
We've got to consistently win, and we know it.

Q.テつ First off, what did happen on the sky diving, on the plane jumping?テつ What happened?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Weather.テつ It was raining that day.テつ So pulled the plug on me.

Q.テつ Are you thinking about doing it again?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Yeah, if they want me to, I'll do it.テつ I'm actually afraid of heights, believe it or not, of all things.テつ So nobody that's close to me that knows me actually believed I would do it.テつ So they might have to push me out, but I said I'd do it, so we'll see.

Q.テつ What did you see as the big challenges coming in when you took this job?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, I think there was a lot of them.テつ Here you've got a program.テつ You gotta remember I was at UCLA.テつ I went there in 1988, with Jim Harrick, and if you go back and remember UCLA missed the NCAA Tournament five out of the previous seven years.
So when we walked in there‑‑ I was young, I was a graduate assistant‑‑ but very similar in that you've got great tradition, history, fan base, people want you to win.テつ They expect you to win, yet they weren't winning.テつ And starting with the recruiting, recruiting local players, getting the best players, and then building a program.
So when I got to NC State, it was very similar to me.テつ You got a program that's been to three Final Fours, two national championships.テつ You've got a hungry fan base.テつ But it's just convincing everybody that we can win.テつ And we still have to do that as we go forward.
But one thing that was nice, we inherited a group of guys that had the potential to get better.テつ And I think, again, it was getting those guys to really buy into what we were selling, our system, every day, and I think that happened.

Q.テつ I covered that UCLA team and your first coaching position.テつ Why do you call C.J. Calvin, other than the fact it's his name?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Those guys are local guys; they've heard that story.テつ First of all, his name is Calvin.テつ His dad's name is Calvin.テつ And when I took the job, every time I turned around somebody was making a negative comment about C.J. Leslie:テつ Doesn't play hard.テつ He's disinterested.テつ You're not going to be able to reach him.テつ He's this, he's that.テつ It was all negative.
And here you've got a guy that's got unbelievable talent.テつ And the more I've gotten to know him, he's an unbelievable person.テつ He's a really good guy.テつ Yet everything was negative.
So my thing was it's time for a change.テつ It's time for you to have a fresh start.テつ So for me we'll change your name.テつ It's Calvin.テつ And I think at first he always looked out of the corner of his eye like what are you doing?テつ But he's used to it now.テつ But that's the reason.

Q.テつ Two C.J. questions, one Calvin and the other C.J.テつ C.J. Williams, update on his ankle.テつ What did it mean to you listening to C.J. Leslie in Atlanta when he talked about thanking you and all that?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ C.J. Williams was‑‑ he shot around today.テつ He's a little tender.テつ I think he'll play.テつ And we'll get him a lot more treatment today.テつ A lot of ice tonight.テつ So I expect him to play.テつ I don't know if he'll be 100percent, but he'll be okay.
As far as Calvin in Atlanta, it meant a lot to me.テつ Any coach.テつ I'd be lying if I said it didn't.テつ It did.テつ And I've watched that man grow up.テつ He's getting better.テつ He's maturing.
And I think that he's responded to coaching in a positive way, so that makes you feel good.

Q.テつ You touched on the history and success of a program like NC State.テつ Is that something you can truly sell to kids today, or is it‑‑ are they too busy tweeting and worried about their media world and that they don't have any sense of history or that?テつ How do you use that idea that you can resurrect a program to get kids to come in and think that that's important to them?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ Well, again, a little bit similar to the UCLA experience I had.テつ We had John Wooden and most of the kids we recruited, although they heard of him, they never watched his teams play.テつ Might as well have been in the '20s as far as the kid is concerned.
Ours is similar.テつ We have guys we're recruiting that they don't know who Dereck Whittenburg is.テつ They don't know those guys at all, and I think that was 29years ago.テつ That was a long time ago.
But here's the key, I think.テつ It has been done at this school.テつ There are some schools that although they want to be great, it's never been done there.テつ And I think that since it's been done, there's more of a belief that it can be done again.
And I think that's what we've tried to sell to young guys.

Q.テつ In the last eight games or so, Wolf Pack has shown a lot of maturity and a lot of growth.テつ What do you attribute that to?テつ Just growing up and everything finally coming together or what?
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I think that our young players‑‑ you've got to remember, Lorenzo's a sophomore, Calvin's a sophomore.テつ I think those two guys, especially, have improved.
I think those guys are much better now at the end of their sophomore years than they were at the beginning.テつ And I think that's helped us probably more than anything.
I also think that just as a group, our team started to come together as far as everybody's roles and what they truly should be doing for us to win.テつ And guys, whether it's Alex or DeShawn coming off the bench, C.J. Williams, it just seems like their roles, they're fulfilling that role what they should bring to the team better I think here late in the year.

Q.テつ I'm just curious as, you're so swamped as a coach right now preparing, do you get a chance‑‑ even sneak a peek at the tournament as a fan?テつ And what did you think about the upsets?テつ Everybody's abuzz about it might have been a historic day.
COACH GOTTFRIED:テつ I've always said this, it's the greatest show on earth.テつ I've always believed that, NCAA Tournament.テつ Bowl games are great, Super Bowl is great.テつ This is the greatest show on earth.テつ Yesterday America watched.テつ Probably the world watched.テつ And anything can happen.テつ That's the fun part of being in the tournament.
So as we watched tape, last night I was watching tape on Georgetown.テつ I'm watching the end of the Missouri game or the end of the Duke game.テつ I don't get to watch them all start to finish, but we certainly tune in like everybody else.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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