Mark Gottfried Looking to Prove He Was the Right Choice for NC State
After Sidney Lowe’s disappointing run at NC State came to an end, the Wolfpack needed to find a new coach. The goal was to find someone who could, compete with Duke and North Carolina, or at least compete in the ACC. Two things that Sidney Lowe failed miserably at while at NC State. The Wolfpack couldn’t get Shaka Smart from VCU and they couldn’t get Gregg Marshall away from Murray State either. So they went to TV and decided to bring back Mark Gottfried in a move that was somewhat surprising. Even though Gottfried had a good tenure for the most part at Alabama, things didn’t end well with the Crimson Tide and certainly wasn’t at the top of a lot of people’s lists.At the press conference to introduce Gottfried as the new coach, NC State AD Debbie Yow accused Maryland Coach Gary Williams of sabotaging NC State’s coaching search. Of course the two have a poor relationship stemming from a falling out at Maryland. If that’s what she thinks then fine, but it seems like it has more to do with the fact that NC State isn’t a very attractive job with Debbie Yow as the AD and the fact that Duke and Carolina are the class of the ACC.
Mark Gottfried joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta with Barnhart and Durham to talk about what he wants to bring to NC State, what he knows about the relationship between Gary Williams and Debbie Yow, whether or not being away has re-energized him, and what he thinks of the team he inherits.
What he wants to bring to NC State:
“Here the way that I think you need to look at it and no knock on Sidney because I think he is obviously a great basketball guy, but we haven’t won here a lot in the last few years. These players are hungry to win, fans are hungry to win, and there’s a group of guys here that want to play in the NCAA Tournament, the greatest show on Earth. Certainly you have Carolina and Duke right down the road and you’re going to compete hard and want to beat them. We’re not backing down from anybody, but the goal here is to get involved in what I think is the greatest tournament of all-time, which is the tournament. Then if you get in the tournament you have a chance to do something special. But you have to get in the tournament. That’s the goal, that’s the first step is to find a way where you got a chance then to compete. We have to build it every day, we have to work hard, we have to do everything we can do in our power. Outside of that there’s not a whole lot more we can do. This group of guys needs to go to work and I need to get a staff that can really help them, that’s a priority, and then we’re going to try and tackle it one day at a time. That’s going to be our approach.”
On the relationship between Gary Williams and Debbie Yow:
“Let me say this, Gary Williams is a good friend, we have played golf together many times, and he is just a phenomenal, phenomenal basketball coach. For whatever reason there have been some issues between the two of them. That’s not my fight to fight. Debbie, when I look at her, she wants to win and she wants this program to be good. She wants people to understand that she doesn’t want to back down from anybody either. I’ve told many people that if she’s going to play in the game I want her on my team. I’m excited about that. I don’t know that the other thing going on has anything to do with me but I’m glad she’s the kind of person that wants to do right for her own program.”
If he is re-energized by being away and wants to make up for how things ended at Alabama:
“There is no question whatsoever. We had a great run at Alabama and I was there for a decade. We had great teams and I thought at the end there that I did not do a very good job. I don’t know that I hired the right staff, the recruiting, the way we coached, and that’s my fault. Nobody else’s fault but mine. I think when you get in a situation like I was it’s kinda like you’re swimming in the lake and you’re trying to keep your head above the water. Now when you step out and get to recalibrate everything and reorganize your thoughts on what’s important and how you wanna do things, it gives you great energy. I’m very excited and very enthusiastic. Here’s another thing; I’m tremendously appreciative of the opportunity because I’m not the flavor of the month. I didn’t take a team to the NCAA Tournament this year and I’m not the guy that’s going to be a lot of people’s first choice. I understand that. I appreciate the opportunity and because of that I want to work even harder and prove to Debbie and everybody here that they did make the right choice. That’s up to me and the staff that we hire.”
On the team he inherits:
“Well there are some good young players. What’s important to understand right now, this is not a confident bunch. Let me say this too, I don’t ever want to disrespect Sidney Lowe. I think he’s a great basketball guy and he did a nice job of assembling some good players here, but they’re not a confident group right now. Winning breeds confidence and success is what gives you confidence. They need that. They need something to believe in. I’ve met with these kids and talked to them a lot and I really like them. I really like their approach and their honesty. We need to do a great job with this group right here and then build with this group and add pieces with this group. Hopefully get this going the way people here want it to be.”