Q. Coach, two questions, sir. Number one, why do you think NC State didn't shoot as well in the first half? Were you getting better shots in the second half? And could you also talk about the future of the Wolfpack program.
COACH GOTTFRIED: I think in the first half, I don't know that it was necessarily we didn't shoot the ball that well. I know our percentage, I think it was at 41 percent, but we turned the ball over too much. That was the problem.
When we didn't turn it over and we executed our offense and got the ball around the rim, we scored a lot, opened the game up with great execution.
Then we settled for jump shots instead of getting the ball to the rim, where we had an advantage. Points around the rim for us, percentage‑wise, was amazing all day long. We just didn't do enough of it early, but we turned the ball over, and we probably had three or four turnovers that were the pick six, go down and shoot a layup, give them two points. So that hurt us more than anything, I thought, in the first half, is our turnovers.
Then the second part of your question, you know, it's really‑‑ it's an interesting thing because, when I took the job two years ago, we were a long ways away from really anything significantly good. And even through the middle of last year at one point when we were 5‑7 in the league, we were still a long ways away.
Then we won four. Then we really played well in the tournament, and we had a great run. And then everything changed. And now the expectation on this group changed greatly. It's something I'm never going to be afraid of. I want it. You want that.
But the core part of our group was the same group that was 5‑7 at one point in time. So the whole year became this struggle to reach higher than we were, and we just kept reaching and couldn't get there, and you just seemed to always be falling short.
And today's disappointing. No question, disappointing. I take full responsibility. You guys can put it all on me.
But I also kind of look at the big picture here, and I see the picture of winning 48 games in two years and going back‑to‑back NCAA Tournaments, getting back in the top 25 here and there. So there are good things happening.
But we wanted to play a lot longer than one game in this tournament this year. We wanted to play a lot longer. We didn't. So that's disappointing, no question. But at the same time, I am proud of what‑‑ especially what these two seniors have helped to do here at NC State, get this thing turned around a little bit.
Q. The pattern for you guys had been to‑‑ after a game like Miami, the start that you had against Miami, usually the next game you come back and usually play a little bit better. Did you expect a better start today?
COACH GOTTFRIED: Absolutely.
Q. Given that the start today was so much like the Miami game.
COACH GOTTFRIED: Absolutely. I really thought we were going to play well, play early. Great, great days in practice leading up to today. Great energy in our locker room, and then we just started slow, and I don't think defensively we were nearly as good as we should have been early. So I didn't see that one coming by our team.
You've got to give Temple credit too. It's not just us. They did a great job, and they played really, really well early. I think we got it back down there at one point, if I'm not mistaken. You guys may know. I think we were down 3 when we had the 3‑point shot at the top of the key there to tie the game.
So we really did fight hard, fought back really, really well, but, boy, the start was not good.
Q. Mark, can you just also talk about what you saw out of Khalif Wyatt. Did he change at all when he injured his hand?
COACH GOTTFRIED: No. He really played well. He's a great player. We've played against really good guards this year, and in the nonconference, Marcus Smart is a terrific freshman and Trey Burke at Michigan is really, really good, UConn's guards are very good.
In our league, we saw great guards, and Khalif Wyatt is as good or better than all of them. He controls tempo, doesn't turn the ball over, plays like a senior, can score, can pass. He puts you in a lot of tough positions throughout the game with his ability to drive and to get you on his hip.
He's a really good player. He controlled the game, I thought, today from a tempo standpoint.
Q. Coach, what do you think it was that many of these guys didn't quite get there defensively this season? You finished ACC ninth in points per possession allowed. Obviously, the offense, when things get out and going, is great, but what was it defensively that didn't quite get there?
COACH GOTTFRIED: Here's what's interesting. You bring up a stat right there. I can grab any stat and make it look any way I want.
Defensive field goal percentage, four of the top five teams in our league didn't make the NCAA Tournament that had the best defensive field goal percentage. So that's not always one to hang your hat on.
At times we were really good defensively. At times we were not. This particular team never seemed to get to a point where we could sustain and maintain great defensive effort the entire game. That's on me. I didn't do a very good job with that. We just never seemed to get‑‑ we could at times, and at times we were very good defensively. At other times we weren't. So that was something that certainly hurt our team this year, no question.
Q. The consistency this year that you were kind of just referring to, where do you think that problem stems from? Is there something about this team that made that‑‑
COACH GOTTFRIED: Yeah. I think this team struggled with a lot of things. Number one, we had some immaturity at times. At times we had‑‑ there was‑‑ it just seemed hard at times to have everybody buy in all the way. And for us to get better in the future, everybody needs to. Our young guys need to learn that lesson.
At times this year, that just seemed to be a struggle for our group. That was a hard thing for us to overcome basically all year long, from the way we started. Some of the young guys, some of the older guys, and building character every day and doing things right every day, putting the team first, and then personal success and glory comes later. It always does. But you have to trust that.
We struggled with some of that this year. I think at the end of the day, you have a team that had a good year but didn't have a great year. It was good but not where I wanted it to be.