As encouraged as Mark Gottfried was by N.C. States road win over Notre Dame on Tuesday, the Wolfpack coach hopes his young team will move past it and be ready for Virginia on Saturday.
The Cavaliers (11-4) have started 2-0 in ACC play and are playing their best basketball, according to Gottfried.
It was good to get some confidence back, after a disappointing home loss to Pitt, Gottfried said, but the Wolfpack cant be content with one win.
You have to grind your way through a tough, long 18-game league schedule, Gottfried said. You can be excited if you have a nice win, but you better get ready to play the next night. Our guys are learning that.
N.C. State (11-4, 1-1 ACC) has lost each of the two regular-season games to Virginia in Gottfrieds first two seasons with the Wolfpack. It has cost N.C. State the tiebreaker in the seeding for the ACC tournament in both seasons, pushing the Wolfpack down to the No. 5 seed.
There are so many different parts from this seasons team from the previous two, Gottfried said he wont even mention that to his team, but he did note the value of the losses to Tony Bennetts team, which has been the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament the past two seasons.
Gottfried was more concerned with how Virginia is playing now than in recent history. The Cavs struggled outside the ACC, losing to VCU, Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Tennessee, but their defense has found its form in the conference.
The Cavaliers beat Florida State 62-50 on the road last week and then pasted Wake Forest 74-51 on Wednesday night in Charlottesville, Va. The Wake win, after the Deacons had beaten North Carolina at home, got N.C. States attention.
After seeing what they did to Wake the other night, we have to be on our toes, we have to be ready to play, senior forward Jordan Vandenberg said. Otherwise were going to be in for a bad day.
Bennetts program, known for its defensive prowess, is again one of the countrys best in scoring defense (55.9 points per game, third in the country) and third in the country in Ken Pomeroys adjusted, tempo-free defensive metric.
The Wolfpack could scrounge up only 55 points in last Januarys road loss but had 75 in March in the ACC tournament win, one of its most complete performances of the season.
Gottfried is hoping his team will have a balanced scoring effort like it did at Notre Dame. It wasnt just the T.J. Warren Show in the 77-70 win at Notre Dame. Four players reached double figures and all nine players scored at least two points in the first half.
Our team realizes that T.J. needs to score but they also realize were going to be better if some other guys step up as well, Gottfried said. For us to become a good team, we do have to be a bit more balanced.
Warren, who leads the ACC in scoring (23.4 points per game), had 17 against the Irish and has had at least 13 in all 15 games, with 12 games with at least 20 points.
The sophomore forward struggled last season at Virginia (3 points, no rebounds in 34 minutes) but that was in a supporting role. This is a different team and different opportunity for the Wolfpack but the constant is Virginias defensive style.
Youre not going to get quick and easy shots, Gottfried said. You may get some on the break but not many. You have to be good offensively against their good defense.