Sub-freezing temperatures and snowy winter storms paralyzed most major Midwest airports Monday, but N.C. States basketball team was able to safely fly to Notre Dame.
The Wolfpack chartered a flight directly into South Bend, Ind., which helped avoid traveling snarls in Chicago and Indianapolis. The Wolfpack (10-4, 0-1 ACC) will even get a chance to shoot-around at Notre Dame (10-4, 1-0) on Tuesday afternoon before its 9 p.m. tipoff.
The smooth travel into wintry Indiana put coach Mark Gottfried ahead of his last trip to Notre Dame. In December 2006, Gottfrieds Alabama team got delayed a day going to Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide arrived the day of the game, missed the shoot-around and then got blitzed by the Fighting Irish 99-85.
Gottfried said his Alabama team never found a rhythm. He has talked with his Wolfpack players about tuning out distractions.
Thats something we try to talk about all year long, Gottfried said. You have to play through all types of things.
He wants to keep his team focused. He knows his team will have its hands full with the Fighting Irish, who have gone 76-8 at home the past 41/2 seasons.
The Irish won their first ACC game at the Joyce Center, 79-77 on Saturday against then-No. 7 Duke. Notre Dame lost its best player, guard Jerian Grant, to an academic suspension after its 64-61 loss to Ohio State on Dec. 21.
Since Grants absence, Notre Dame has beaten Canisius in overtime and Duke, both at home. Senior forward Garrick Sherman has done more in the middle, with 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds the past two games, and guard Eric Atkins has picked up the slack outside with 24.5 points and 9.0 assists without Grant.
We know were going to play a really good Notre Dame team, Gottfried said. They had a phenomenal win and were coming off a tough loss.
N.C. State dropped its ACC opener 74-62 to Pittsburgh at home on Saturday. The Wolfpack led by 15 points in the opening minutes but fell apart in the second half, getting out-scored 48-28 by the tougher Panthers.
We didnt play nearly as well as wed like in the second half, Gottfried said.