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March 19, 2015

Gary Bell, Jr.

Mark Few

Kevin Pangos

Byron Wesley


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Byron and Kevin, what does Gary mean to this team? How important has he been to the success that y'all have had?
BYRON WESLEY: Gary is a huge piece of this team. From the first day I got on campus, just his work ethic. And he's not that vocal as a leader, but he's always just the leader that leads by example. And I think that's a quality that everybody on our team admires. He's so competitive and he brings his hard hat to practice every day. And in game settings, just the way he goes out and defends at a really high level. He's so unselfish, and I don't think there's a better two guard in the country.

KEVIN PANGOS: Byron said it really well. G.B. shows up every day and guards the other team's best players, doesn't complain, takes good shots every single game. I've seen the same thing for four years. He's just super consistent. So, when you have a guy like that, it just helps your team win games. And he's an ultimate winner.

Q. Kevin, what's it like seeing a 6'10" guy shoot 3-pointers, especially the accuracy that he does?
KEVIN PANGOS: It's nice. When you got a guy like that that's a matchup problem like that that the other team -- can go in the post, he can take the open three. He makes it look so easy. I enjoy watching it. I don't know about everyone else, but I do.

Q. Byron, wondering how much you enjoy this opportunity to have this experience and do you feel like it kind of validates your decision to transfer and to come here?
BYRON WESLEY: Yeah, I'm extremely blessed to be in this position. This is why I came to Gonzaga, this is why I decided to transfer, was to win my league and win the championship of the league, which we have done already, and to finally make it to the Big Dance in March. So definitely excited to share this with my teammates and just looking forward to playing tomorrow.

Q. Kevin, do you see any similarities between this team and the team two years ago when you guys were also in the Top 10 all year and a high seed, and is there anything about this year's team that you think makes you better equipped to make a run in this tournament?
KEVIN PANGOS: I think there's definite similarities, just with the way the season's gone to the guys on the team are really deep like we were that year. The difference I think is that we have been through it once. There's about three, four, five of us that have been through it before. So I think that can only benefit us, and that's why I'm looking forward to this year going into it.

Q. Do you consider yourself a stronger inside team or perimeter team?
GARY BELL JR.: That's definitely a tough question, but I definitely think we're a balanced team overall. We definitely use our bigs a lot with Przemek and Wiltjer and Sabonis. But when they're playing well, that means open shots for me, Kevin, and Wes. So we're just so balanced where I don't think our bigs are any better than our guards, so just use them wisely.

Q. For Gary and for Kevin, what did you know about Byron before he transferred and what have you learned over the last few months about him?
GARY BELL JR.: The coaches kind of told us that he was looking here, and I knew him before college and stuff because we went to the Top 100 Camp, NBA Top 100 camp, in high school. So watching him on film, I knew he would fit our system well because at the three spot he gives us a scoring role that we pretty much never had. Me and Kevin, our whole career have never had that. So that definitely helped us. On the defensive end, when he's playing tenacious and active, he's one of the best in the nation. So, he's helped us a lot this whole year.

KEVIN PANGOS: I knew he was really talented before he came to our school, but since he's got here I think just he can score in a different way that really complements me and Gary. He can shoot from the outside, but his best thing is slashing and finishing around the basket or mid-range and then also passing. He gets us open shots because when he drives, he draws the defense and gets us open shots. So, he can just do a bit of everything.

Q. Gary, how special is this? I know you've been here in the past for Battle in Seattle, but how different and special is it to be able to play in your hometown here at KeyArena?
GARY BELL JR.: It's definitely nice to have my parents and my grandma come and watch me play, but that's pretty cool, but having Zag Nation out here, too, being close to Spokane, that's the biggest thing we're going to have. It's going to be like a home game for us. Hopefully they get it rocking and we can play well.

Q. Kevin, do you remember Lawrence Alexander from last year in the Oklahoma game, or what have you found out about him, I guess, over the last week or so that you have known that you're going to play NDSU?
KEVIN PANGOS: Just that he's really talented. He can score the ball in a lot of ways and that he's a big factor to their team. He can drive it and he plays really under control and then can obviously shoot the three really well. So, last year, honestly, you get so focused on what you're doing, I don't really remember that game specifically, but I know they did do pretty well in the tournament last year.

Q. Byron, what do you remember about the NCAA Tournament never having played it? Did you used to watch these games like everybody else, or what do you remember about this thing?
BYRON WESLEY: Yeah, I've been watching the NCAA Tournament since I was a little kid. It's something that -- a place I've always dreamed of making one day. And when I was at USC, it was kind of tough for me every year not being able to get that chance to play on the big stage. But luckily all the pieces fell in the right way for me and just really blessed to be able to play at this level, at least for my last year.

Q. Gary, how determined is this team to make it past the Sweet 16 deeper than any Zag team has before?
GARY BELL JR.: For me and Kev, or Byron, too, we have never been past the first weekend. So, we have won a lot of games, we have accomplished a lot, been No. 1 and stuff, but we just want to get past this first weekend. And the first step is beating North Dakota State, and that's our mindset right now.

Q. How relieved were you guys when you found out you were going to Seattle and it's basically the shortest trip anyone can make outside of Dayton?
KEVIN PANGOS: I don't know if relieved is the right word. I think you're happy because we get the chance to play in front of our home fans. Hopefully they get to make the trip here. But anywhere we're going to play we were going to be satisfied with, because we just want to show up and play. But it's definitely nice to be in Seattle, for sure.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you very much. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach.

COACH FEW: Well, it's again just an honor to be up here in 2015. This is 17 straight for our program, which is something that we are extremely proud of. We put a lot of effort in and something that we feel really, really good about. This has been a culmination of just a great effort by our guys. Not just physical effort, but just as far as putting the team together and sacrificing, roles and shots and minutes and all those things like that. It's just been an absolute joy to be able to work with this team, and I'm happy that we were able to earn our way back to the NCAA Tournament because that's obviously the goal at the start of the year.

THE MODERATOR: Take questions, please.

Q. What kind of problems does Wiltjer cause defenses with his three-point shooting? And he's 6'10".
COACH FEW: Well, Wilt is one of those guys that is probably the top of everybody's game plan, just like it is when we play somebody. If have you a four man that can stretch the defense out to three, then you always have to game plan for that, usually, first and foremost. The thing that's interesting about Kyle this year is he's really developed himself around the basket and done a nice job. He's stronger and he's really crafty and just got a real knack for putting the ball in the basket. So his three-point shooting is obviously something that jumps out at you, but I think his area of growth and where he's really helped us and he's really won some games for us down the stretch is by getting down low and delivering through physical play and in a different manner pretty much each and every way.

Q. When you took on Byron Wesley, what were you hoping to get and did you get what you expected?
COACH FEW: Absolutely. Absolutely and more. It's just been amazing how seamless the adjustment has been. We didn't really get him -- he wasn't finished with school until basically the start of September. From day one those guys that were up here, the seniors welcomed him with open arms and they knew he could help us. But at the same time they knew it was going to diminish their shots, their minutes and parts of their roles. I think that what they have been able to do is a big part of the story and then what he's been able to do. He had kind of carte blanche at SC as far as shots and minutes and opportunities, and that just hasn't been the case here. But he came here to win and he came here to get to the NCAA Tournament, so mission accomplished. And hopefully there's a lot more winning to do.

Q. How much can your size play an advantage in a game against North Dakota State, kind of a smaller team down in the post?
COACH FEW: Well, we hope our size is an advantage every game we go into. There aren't many teams that are as big as us. We have to use it to our advantage. We need to adjust. We haven't had to adjust very often this year. The guys have done a great job, just like I talked about, Kyle being able to take it down low. Przemek has done a -- when we're at our best is when he's playing really well. And obviously Domas is a physical entity and an energy-type entity that we need and just an excellent finisher around the basket and an awesome rebounding presence for us. So they are a huge part of who we are. I think I put them up there with any bigs in college basketball. And so it's not just North Dakota State, but pretty much anybody we play, it kind of starts with the bigs and we go from there.

Q. You already mentioned the fact that you -- this is almost like this is your 17th season doing this in the NCAA Tournament. How big is the chase for you given that you still haven't had that national title but you make the tournament every year? How big is the chase for you when it comes to the tournament?
COACH FEW: Every year we go into it, we're trying to win as many games as we possibly can. It's not about me. It's never been about me. It's about serving this particular group. And started back in 2000. You wanted to serve that group and make as much of their dreams come to fruition or become possible and take them as far as they can, because once it's over, it's over. We'll never be together again with this particular team. So it's 100 percent about them. And so really the 17 years doesn't really play much or it doesn't mean much, it doesn't mean that much to them as it does maybe to the institution, the university and the community and all that. So for me it's just about making this year as special and as great as we possible can.

Q. Along kind of the same lines, two years ago obviously Wichita State turned out to be a very, very good team. Are there any of these endings where you have walked off and just thought, you know, we didn't come close to playing the way we could?
COACH FEW: It's funny, you just go back and you look at all our games, with the exception of the Arizona game last year, and that -- a lot of that was due to just Arizona, just how good they were and how great they were playing and on that particular night they were hitting on all cylinders, and it was -- I felt like last year's team did as good a job as any I've probably ever coached at hitting their ceiling of what they were capable. Four minutes into the game, Pangos goes down with an ankle injury. And when you're playing somebody like Arizona, that's not a good thing. So, other than that, obviously the Wichita one was disappointing, but, again, I think they have shown just how good a team that was to make it all the way to the Final Four and they had the national champ down I think 12 in the second half. And they have continued to build upon that success. And that's just been a great run with a great group of guys. We have had those at Gonzaga. There hasn't been many. It's a one-and-out deal. It's not a five-game series. So, things happen. I think that watching those games today, things are happening.

Q. What do you see when you take a look at North Dakota State and what --
COACH FEW: Anybody remember Ray Giacoletti?

Q. Yeah, longtime friends with Ray.
COACH FEW: Barstool with his name on it or anything there? (Laughter.)

Q. No. No, there's not.

Q. What concerns you most about the Bison? What do you see when you take a look at them?
COACH FEW: Well, a lot concerns me about them. It starts with, if you win your conference and win your conference tournament, you're a tough, tough team. You took everybody's shot. And then you went into it -- and especially when you go into a tournament where if you don't win it, you're not going, you're not advancing to the NCAA Tournament. So I think that takes tons of mental toughness. The fact they won a game in the tournament last year tells me that they're obviously not going to be wowed by any of this. The kids know how to win and the coach knows how to win. Their toughness, watching them, real conviction on the defensive end to keep everybody in front and make you earn every shot you get. Then they're just going to be one of those patient kind of grinder teams that really moves the ball, really plays together and really shares it and waits for their opportunity and then takes advantage of it. So, they have done a real good job of coming together. I know they lost a lot of starters from last year's team, but the more tape you watch, the more impressed you are with them. There's a lot of papers in Fargo. The same amount like New York City it seems like here.

Q. You've been an underdog and you've been a favorite in this tournament. What are the challenges of both?
COACH FEW: Actually the underdog is just kind of fun and games and let it rip and just go for it. And it's pretty easy to get your guys to buy into that. Coming from the other side, which is primarily what we have been doing a lot here for the last probably 10 years or so, it's getting your guys to stay aggressive, getting your guys to be the hunter, not the hunted, and also to come into this thing and let it rip and go. Because that's what you've been preparing for all your life. So you can't come in and rope-a-dope. I mean, you got to come in and you got to throw haymakers, because everybody who is in this thing is good. They have either had a great season like we have -- I mean, we had a season for the ages -- or they earned their way in the hard way, through a conference tournament, a three- or four-game deal. So they're good or they're good at the right time, and you're not going to cover up and advance in this thing. You got to make plays to move on.

Q. You touched on it a little bit a few questions ago about the slow-moving offense that NDSU likes to run, hold the ball, work down the shot clock. What kind of challenges does that present to your team?
COACH FEW: Well, we, this year probably more than any, are well versed in that. For some reason a lot of our league has adopted that style. So we have had -- there's probably at least three to even four teams I can think of in our league that really kind of like to play possession basketball and get everybody back on D and set their defense and play pack line. And so I think probably more than in years past we have had a lot of games like that. So, our guys, again, have seen it, and I think that will help, but North Dakota State's very effective with it and very committed to it.

Q. Following up on that, because there's been a lot more of that, slowing it down everywhere, not just in your conference, what do you think or what's your explanation for that?
COACH FEW: It's a combination of I think you go back to the success that maybe Butler had and some teams like that. No offense to any of you out there, but it seems to evolve from the Midwest and just kind of worked its way west and east. And I think we will and I hope we will make some adjustments to the shot clock. It's silly that we're operating with a 35-second shot clock. I've been fortunate enough to do USA Basketball, and 24-second shot clock was great. It was fun. It was what your guys want to play with. And you can certainly play great defense within that. You can certainly run great offense within that. I think that will help, but that's not the only answer. I think the cleaning up, protecting the offensive player when he's shooting and driving to the basket, what we did with the charge call this year is just idiotic when we're trying to help scoring to go back the way it was. It's just -- it's really silly. So, I think we just got to get probably some better organization there, and I think certainly the outcry that I've heard and everybody's heard, hopefully it will cause some momentum that will cause some change.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you very much, Coach.

COACH FEW: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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