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April 1, 2017

Frank Martin

Sindarius Thornwell

Duane Notice

PJ Dozier

Chris Silva

Phoenix, Arizona

Gonzaga - 77, South Carolina - 73

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by South Carolina head coach Frank Martin and student-athletes PJ Dozier, Chris Silva, Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MARTIN: A lot of credit to Gonzaga. We struggled to defend them in the first half and kind of stopped playing offensively the right way in the first half, at the end, last two and a half, three minutes. But they had a lot to do with that. It wasn't self-inflicted wounds.

But so proud of these guys. Like I've been saying for the last three weeks, the harder it gets, the tougher they stand. And every once in a while you get put down on the mat and you better have courage to get off your back, and these guys do it every single time. So a lot of credit to Gonzaga.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Sin, what did they do defensively to make you work so hard and limit your touches and looks to the basket?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: They just crowd the paint. My drive, they forced me to pass it out on my drives. And just protecting the rim real well. That was really it. Just forced me to pass the ball on my drives.

Q. I want to say I'm extremely proud of how you guys play as a former player. You guys played the way you're supposed to play -- with heart, with grit, you never quit, your coach never quit. You guys kept fighting. You guys gave me goosebumps. And proud of the way you guys played. Don't hang your head, man, and you gotta keep pushing and fighting and that's my statement. I don't have a question.
COACH MARTIN: A lot of respect, Eddie.

Q. Sindarius, I know it's tough now, but can you kind of reflect on your four years and kind of what you've done for this program and where it's at now, and Duane as well?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Yeah, it's been great, the four years I've had here, from the start to the finish. It's been great. I thank everybody for the support, coming in. We never thought we'd be here, but we worked every day. We never gave up, us seniors that came in, in the situation we were in, we never gave up.

We believed in Coach from day one, from the day he stepped in my house and recruited me, we all believed him. And we continue -- we stayed at it, we stayed together and we didn't listen to anybody, and we continued to work until we got to this point right here. And we appreciate everybody, all the fans, Gamecock Nation, for all the support that was with us for those four years.

DUANE NOTICE: Yeah, pretty much the same thing. Just appreciative of the moment and appreciative of all the support we got from all the fans and the opportunity that Frank gave myself and my family to come to this school and this institution. It's been open-arm policy.

It's helped me grow as a man. I think each year, Sindarius and Justin and I, we've grown as men and we've grown also as basketball players. If I had to go back I wouldn't change it.

Q. Sin, was the plan on the final free throw to intentionally miss it and hope for the rebound?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Yeah, the plan was to miss it left and hopefully Chris could tap it out to somebody. And that was the plan.

Q. One of the things we've learned a lot from your coach over this tournament is the cornerstone of character that he instills and builds in you and has since, I guess, you joined the team with him. Help us understand, if you can articulate, how that helps you handle something like today?
CHRIS SILVA: You know, from the beginning he prepared us for actions like that, when situations get tougher, he wants to see how we handle it. If we don't respond well he's going to be here to support us and tell us what to do.

Since the beginning of the season that's what we worked for, moments like this. And we try to do our best to respond the way we learn how to respond.

PJ DOZIER: Just what he said, but I'm surprised that's all you all learned from this guy. You know, we learned so much from him every day. Every day he instills that character issue that you're talking about in his players, on and off the court. He teaches so many life lessons that you can also reflect back on basketball and use it towards basketball and everyday life.

So, you know, that's just the big thing. That's the great thing about this guy, that he'll help you grow as a basketball player and as a person at the same time, without you even really realizing it. So he's been doing that all year for us. And we're just thankful for it.

Q. PJ and Sin, can you talk about what the plan was on the last play and how things unfolded?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Which play, the free throw play or --

Q. 12 seconds left.
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: The plan was to -- Chris set a high-ball screen on Ra's man, and I set a back screen on Chris' man. And Duane set a flare on me, and if I had an open shot, shoot it. If not, drive the baseline and Chris pinning, screening PJ's man on the backside and skip it over. That was the plan. But, you know, they fouled before we could go through with it.

PJ DOZIER: That was the play right there.

Q. Tell us about the process when you were -- to PJ, when you were recruited by Coach Martin. And what convinced you to come to South Carolina, and everything that he said to you, did it come true?
PJ DOZIER: Absolutely. The process was great. You know, just the support that I got from everyone. Of course, you always have some people saying, you know, don't go here, don't go there. But I wasn't really -- I wasn't paying attention to them. I was looking to pick the best school for me, selfishly, and do what I had to do for myself.

So the process was great. Me and Coach built a great relationship throughout the whole process, at the very beginning. I mean, I used to always come to the games even before we got to know each other. When he first got to South Carolina, I would come to the games and see the progress that they was making year by year. So I had the utmost faith in Coach and what he's been doing for the program and what he will do. So that's just how that worked.

Q. Sindarius, were you weakened at all by illness? Were you at 100 percent?
SINDARIUS THORNWELL: Yeah, I was at 100 percent. I think the first half I was a little fatigued a little bit, but that's still not an excuse for anything. I was fine. I was fine the whole game.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, the doubting on Gonzaga, them not being a power conference team, has persisted for a while. You obviously have played both in your conference schedule and in the past couple of weeks a ton of great teams, a ton of great power conference teams. Is there anything that distinguishes them, now that you've played them from those teams?
COACH MARTIN: It's not 1997 anymore. They were Cinderella and all that pretty stuff in '97. They've been in this thing for 20 consecutive years. They're as high major as high major can get.

Q. 12 seconds left, you're down by three, what's the plan?
COACH MARTIN: Exactly what Sindarius described. I figured there was enough time where they were not going to foul right away to prevent us from shooting a 3. But when you've got fifth-year seniors across the board, like they do, they don't make mistakes.

And they took away the initial hit, and then, like Sindarius said, the plan was that if they took away the initial hit, we were going to drive hard baseline and pin in PJ's man and get a backside 3. But I'm not sure who the young man guarding Sindarius was. They kind of waited. And as soon as he held the ball for that fake, they hand checked and put us on the line.

And then we have a free throw play that we run. And I gotta watch the film. I think Chris, either they boxed him out real good or he froze, one or the other. But are you kidding me? We're not even in this game if it's not for him. Unfortunate.

Q. Throughout the season you saw so many great guards. But the impact that Nigel Williams-Goss had on this game for Gonzaga?
COACH MARTIN: He was in total control of the game for the first 30 minutes or so. Total control of the game. And I probably should have extended our defense earlier in the game. I was concerned that -- because I know they're real good -- and I was concerned that we wouldn't have enough juice left in the tank to finish off the game.

So I was kind of holding that. I didn't expect to be down 14 and have to use it. But eventually when we got down so much we had no choice. And he's good. He's real good.

Q. There were a lot of kids back home in South Carolina who were cheering their hearts out for you today. They dream of playing for you one day. What do you want to say to them as fans of you and the team, and also about how to respond to disappointments like this?
COACH MARTIN: There's something powerful when you impact others. And what these kids have done is pretty special. When you get people to travel across the country by the masses because they believe in what you do, it's powerful stuff. And they've impacted our community in an unbelievable way, which is worth so much more than the score of a game.

It's what it's all about. These kids are great role models. There's a lot of young kids that want to be the next Sindarius Thornwell, Justin McKie, and I don't get to coach them anymore, but they're part of my life forever.

Q. Last time I saw you here in the states you had a great thing going at K-State. What made you change to go over to South Carolina? And the second part is, what do you look for in a kid when you recruit him?
COACH MARTIN: Eric Hyman convinced me that I was the human being he needed. Eric Hyman was the athletic director who hired me at South Carolina. Him and Harris Pastides convinced me that I was the person that was willing to roll up his sleeves and change the whole dynamic that existed at South Carolina for men's basketball.

And I kind of enjoyed the idea of that challenge. And I just, I don't know, I guess that's the dumb in me that I just I like to take on difficult things. I've never tasted easy. So I don't know what easy is all about. And we took on the challenge. My staff, I can't say enough of those guys, their families.

We were in a Top-25 program and we had the best team we had had in our time there coming back. And I fell in love with the idea of trying to rebuild what Frank McGuire built once upon a time, and I just couldn't say no. I believed in the people.

Q. How do you want this team to be remembered? What kind of traits, when people look back 15, 20 years, how do you want this group to be remembered?
COACH MARTIN: Exactly the way the game played out. Exactly the way the game played out. We are taking on the No. 1 seed, the team that was No. 1 in the country a couple of weeks ago, and with nothing but fifth-year seniors. And we found ourselves in a difficult place during the course of the game. We didn't have the resolve, for whatever reasons, I don't know, to fight the way that we needed to for the first 30 minutes of the game.

And I told our players a story about a JV team that I coached once upon a time that had a bunch of young kids that didn't understand the necessity to be a good teammate and play together. And I took them to wrestle against the wrestlers on our school team and every one of them got pinned. Every one of our guys got pinned. And I utilized that to make them understand if you want to be on your own and do your own thing, try wrestling, not very good at it.

If you want to be good as a unit and you need help to get off your back when you're on your back, then you better be a good teammate. And that's what this team did tonight. That's what they've done their whole careers. That's what they've done the whole year is we've gotten put on our backs a couple of times. But we don't lay there. We figure out a way to get off our backs and get back up and fight to the end.

And that's why I'm so proud of these guys and what they've built and how hard they fought to get a lot of people to smile, a lot of people to care. When you get people to smile and care, you're obviously doing something right and that's what these kids have done.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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