Mark Gottfried PC
We've had an interesting week. It's always difficult with finals, getting your team together, guys have spent a lot of time studying. I think for us it will be nice just to get on the floor. We've had a good week of practice, but it is hard sometimes to have great practices with a lot going on with each guy.
I think we are playing a very good basketball team. I'm watching the game the other night, and with two minutes to go in the game at Illinois it's a one-possession game. That one obviously gets your attention.
We're playing against a team Saturday night that is not going to be afraid. They've got some moxie, they are tough, they are big. Obviously when they beat Missouri last year in the NCAA Tournament it gives their players a great deal of confidence.
We understand that we are playing a pretty good team, and our guys are anxious to get back on the floor since last Saturday.
What has Larry Farmer added to your staff?
I think Larry has brought a lot. Obviously there is a great deal of basketball knowledge. I think he's becoming a mentor to these players, specifically academically... he works a lot with our academic staff on campus, as a liaison, making sure guys have everything done.
I think our players have really enjoyed that, just getting to know him. I think he brings a wealth of knowledge about life, basketball, and playing the game. I think it's been a great benefit for our players.
How often does he bring up a story that might be about his time in Westwood?
Regularly. Usually when he begins to tell us of a story and somehow in the story he'll say, 'this is when coach said this.' I think everyone listens a little closer, having played for John Wooden, coach with John Wooden. He was in those years right after coach retired and was an assistant for all of those guys that followed until he became a head coach.
I think he brings a lot to our staff and our team. I've been very happy to have him here.
Have you noticed anything different with Richard?
Not necessarily. I think the biggest key for Richard has been his ability to stay in the game and not be saddled with foul trouble. I think he's a different player... obviously when he stays in the game we're a different team.
If he ends up with one or two fouls early in the game he just seems... that's hard for him to overcome.
If you look at the two games we lost, he played 16 minutes in one and 19 minutes in one and fouled out of both. I just think for him, staying out of foul trouble changes the way he plays.
How do you hope to start on Saturday?
I hope we have a great start, you always hope that, but you never know. Sometimes guys are anxious to play and don't start well, there is no magic formula for that.
I do know our guys, you get through finals, sometimes it's pretty stressful. They've been worrying about a test, staying up late, or had to be with this study group two or three times prior to the test. Now that is over. It's always nice to have it over and done.
Hopefully that means our guys will have a great start, but I don't know if it always works like that. You just have to play the game out and see what happens.
Can you talk about the progression of Tyler Lewis?
I think he's doing well. I think with Tyler right now is I'd like to see him take seven minutes and turn them into nine... take nine minutes and turn into 11.
He's had a good week this week. I think that he's learning, again I hope that he can give us some more minutes than he has to be honest. I'd like to get him in there a little bit more.
You are currently No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage offense. Can you talk about how well you've shot the ball and the factors leading to that?
I think we are taking good shots. I think as a coach, what you want is each player to take high percentage shots for that player and then collectively add it all up.
It's interesting. We have shot a really good percentage, yet we don't feel as a staff that we are anywhere near what we can be as far as how well we're running our offense, and how well we are reading where the ball should go... decisions we are making with the ball.
It's interesting. We have shot a great percentage, but we don't feel like we've really run our offense that well yet. We feel like we can get a lot better. I don't know if that necessarily means our percentages go higher, but offensively I think we can be a lot more efficient than we have.
I think the ball is going inside a lot more early. Which has helped our shooting percentages.
Have you talked with your team about Norfolk State's success against Missouri?
We've talked about it, and our guys follow college basketball and they understand. Again, most everybody that is on the team for Norfolk State this year was on the team last year. Now, some of their roles might be more this year, but they were a part of it.
There is a confidence, a swagger that you develop when you have a win like they had last year, a 15 seed beating a two seed. Then you come back this year and they've had some near misses. They played Seton Hall really tough to start the year, they played Illinois really tough a couple of nights ago. They won on the road in their conference already.
These guys, they are not coming into our building Saturday night afraid of anything. They are going to come in fearless and play. We need to play awfully well ourselves.