After a fourth ACC loss, NC State has their backs against the wall and head coach Mark Gottfried knows what the problem is.
“It is real simple. We scored enough points to win the game tonight. You get 76 points at home in an ACC game you ought to win the game, but this group right here, they better figure it out real fast because right now we have got to figure out how to get a little tougher. We have got to decide if we want to play some defense.” said Gottfried.
At the end of the day, when you get hit in the mouth, there are two types of people. One type lays on the ground, pouts, makes excuses why he got hit and then walks away. The other one gets up with blood on his lip and fights harder than he ever has before.
Right now, NC State is on the ground pouting because they got hit in the face. They have gone limp. They are letting other teams do whatever they want to them with no repercussion. That’s basically the unadulterated breakdown of what you’ve been watching.
Playing defense is about having pride. When your man scores on you, it should sting. Every single possession is a battle, and every time you give up a bucket, you lose. Players should be held accountable for each and every defensive breakdown. This takes team accountability. Right now, you see none because this team has no on-court leadership, thus no one is providing accountability.
With the defense we’ve seen, it should pain you that there is not more on-court bickering. Players should be yelling at teammates if they take a play off or are out of position defensively. Instead, it’s become a culture where no one wants to point a finger or get in somebody’s face. That is a major problem.
We could come on here and talk about specific plays, and how guys didn’t fight over a screen or failed to communicate on a switch. Or how someone was out of position, or late on a help and recover, but at the end of the day it comes down to desire. It comes down to pride. It comes down to someone taking leadership and demanding accountability.
Part of this falls on Gottfried. While he can’t be out there on the floor playing defense or diving for loose balls, he obviously hasn’t made it clear that stopping your man is mandatory for getting court time. Until that happens, until players understand that they can score 30 points per game, but if they can’t stop anyone they sit, then you will continue to have guys that don’t play with grit and passion on that end of the floor.
When they don’t feel hurt or embarrassed when their man scores there is a problem. When they are not in each other’s faces barking at each other about missed assignments or lack of effort on the defensive end, then the coach has not gotten his point across.
Gottfried will never be a defensive coach. He never has been and he never was supposed to be, but he can control effort. He can control minutes, and with the depth he has, that’s what he has to do. Take a bad shot. Sit down. Miss a defensive assignment. Take a seat. The season, at it’s current trajectory, is going to be a loss, so taking drastic measures and a hard line on discipline and teamwork might be your only shot.
Gottfried is pissed off right now. The question is, can he get his guys to channel him against Pitt on Tuesday night? We’ll have to wait and see.