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March 14, 2018

T.J. Otzelberger

Mike Daum

Reed Tellinghuisen

Tevin King

Boise, Idaho

Q. Mike, on Sunday you said you didn't know anything about Ohio State. I'm assuming in the next couple of days you've had a chance to study them a little bit. What do you know about them now?
MIKE DAUM: We really respect the basketball club they have at Ohio State. They are a group of guys that play well together. They do a good job of getting the ball in the paint and have a lot of matchup problems. They're a team that's really well oiled and can play well together.

Q. You guys have done a good job of taking care of the basketball this season. You played different roles. Why have you done such a good job of not turning the ball over this season? How do your strengths play to something like that?
TEVIN KING: For myself, I understand that offensively we need to be as great as possible. You can't turn the ball over. We've got great scorers, that just getting the ball in their hands and getting at least a shot attempt is the best thing for this team.

MIKE DAUM: Kind of go off him, like he says, for us it's just taking care of the ball. For me last year I feel like turnovers were something that every game I would have two or three of, and I tried to cut those out. To try to get those guys open shots is a big deal for us.

Q. How much did the experience last season help out coming into this year? This is the third straight trip you've made to the NCAA tournament. I'd imagine the experience has helped.
REED TELLINGHUISEN: Yeah, definitely. Three guys sitting up here have been to three NCAA tournaments. We've got a group of experienced guys. And some younger guys that are mixed in. And I think our group overall has great experience. And I think that definitely helps us out as a group.

TEVIN KING: Going off of that, being here a couple of times before, you get a feel for things. You see it from a different perspective and you're just comfortable.

MIKE DAUM: I agree with what they said (laughter).

Q. Ohio State is a good defensive rebounding team, they're top 40 in the country. You guys are No. 1 in the country. How important is that matchup specifically controlling the glass, and it leads to offensive transition.
REED TELLINGHUISEN: That's been big for us all year. Coach stressed getting defensive rebounds. And that definitely helps us in the transition offense, that's a big part of our offense. Getting the defense rebounds makes our team at its best.

TEVIN KING: Just getting the ball out and pushing it, it's one of our greatest threats on the offensive end. We really emphasize that.

MIKE DAUM: I'm good again.

Q. It's no secret to pull an upset most Mid-Majors have to shoot about 45 percent or better. That's something South Dakota State struggled with historically when they get to these tournaments. How do you get comfortable and get in a rhythm? And is the big setting, avoiding the nerves, hopefully you will kind of shoot the way you normally do during the season?
MIKE DAUM: I think this kind of goes back to our experience in previous tournaments. For us we're a veteran group of guys who have seen the spotlight now for a couple of years. And I think that we're going to be able to help keep our nerves down on the team when we just go out and play our basketball, move the ball, and just be able to take the shots we've been taking all year.

TEVIN KING: Just staying disciplined to what we need to do. Just being calm. It's going to be an up-and-down game, just being able to stay calm and collected and take our part and the rest will work out.

REED TELLINGHUISEN: I think this is the best shooting team we've had in the past three years. Just doing what we do offensively, moving the basketball, and taking open shots, I think that's one of our strengths.

Q. Mike, from what you've seen the last couple of days, what are your thoughts about Bates-Diop?
MIKE DAUM: He's a tremendous scorer, he's got tremendous size for his position, he can shoot the ball well from the outside, and using his body in the lower post. He's going to be a tough matchup for us.

We just go over that Ohio State is a great basketball program and we're going to have to play very well.

Q. How did you view last year's game? You were extremely, extremely competitive. And did your view of it change as time went on? I know you must have been bummed walking off the court.
MIKE DAUM: For us last year it was kind of a hectic season. No one kind of expected us to make the NCAA tournament. So for us to make it we tried to go in with as much open mindset as we could, knowing it was going to be a tough matchup game for us.

Obviously this year expectations are really different for us. We have a group of guys that really play well together, work hard and do whatever it takes to win.

REED TELLINGHUISEN: I'm going off Mike, it was just totally two different seasons, this year we have higher expectations, and I think our guys are playing with tremendous amount of confidence right now and that just kind of helps going into an environment like this.

Q. You've played with Mike for a couple of years now. You've seen all the accolades he got. Accolades notwithstanding, what's the biggest thing he brings to the team?
REED TELLINGHUISEN: It's just his leadership. Obviously he's a great basketball player. But he's there messing around with everyone, he's just a great person. And that's what leads to everyone liking him. And we're just so happy for him, how many accolades, how awesome his college career is going so far.

TEVIN KING: Mike is a versatile player. His attitude day on and day off, he's just a great person to be around. It's great.

Q. Mike, near 12,000 mostly neutral fans. Why should they pick South Dakota State to root for? What's your pitch?
MIKE DAUM: South Dakota State, first off, we have one of the best mascots in the game. I want some Jackrabbits to win.

They're going to see a well-oiled ball club. We play for each other. You'll see us smiling and laughing with each other on the court, and how coachable and how close we are with each other on and off the court. You're going to see a group of guys enjoying playing with each other, and I think that will help tie in some fans for us.

Q. We talked about this is your third straight year. Why is it important that it's no longer good enough to get to the NCAA tournament and bring that first victory back to Brookings, but why is it so important to get out of the first round and put this program on the map?
TEVIN KING: I think we owe it to ourselves. We worked really hard for the past couple of years. We grew as a team. And we grew ourselves. And getting this type of win would be phenomenal for us and this program.

Q. Everything you've done throughout your career, how much would this mean for you to get a win?
MIKE DAUM: It would mean a tremendous amount. Not just for me, for my teammates, for the coaching staff and for the school. For us it seems like years in the past if you win your conference tournament you get that automatic bid and that's considered a good season. But going off what Tevin said, we're holding ourselves more accountable, because we want to be able to come to NCAA March Madness and make some noise and get a win.

Q. Mike, what is it like playing, developing as a player with your mom being such a great player in her day? And tell us about the first time you beat her one-on-one.
MIKE DAUM: My mom is the baller of my family. And she'll always hold that against me. She taught me everything I knew about basketball up until I beat her one-on-one. That was a good day. I was probably 7th grade, I was still young, and I knew she was pretty upset about it.

But she's been a great influence in my life with basketball, and she's been super supportive, my entire family has, and helping me get to the point where I am today.

Q. Talk about Ohio State, and what it is you see and what concerns you most about them?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: I think first of all any time a team can do what they did, play 15-3 in the Big Ten, is impressive. The coach is a tremendous coach. They're a physical team defensively. They have a really good defensive system and they're strong and tough and physically imposing. They've got great mismatch players, Diop obviously being the Big Ten Conference player of the year, scores it inside and outside, and so talented. And with Jae'Sean Tate, 6-4, 230 pounds, really physical.

Those are players that we don't see every day in our league. And just a very fundamentally sound team. A team you don't see a lot of weakness there. Very well coached and a group that displays a lot of physicality and toughness.

Q. The guys up here were talking about this is for real, and you're not coming in as a Cinderella. As the guy who's trying to set the tone, how do you deal with expectations versus that whole Cinderella thing?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: Yeah, for our guys being here three years in a row, we have quite a few players on our roster that have logged a lot of minutes and experience in this situation. And the more of that you can get on any big stage is beneficial.

So I feel our mindset coming into this, is we know we have a tremendous challenge with the Buckeyes team that is very physical, very well coached. At the same time our guys are playing really confident right now. They're sharing the basketball, they're playing for each other. And I think our mindset is such where we're focused and trying to do everything we can to be on our best tomorrow afternoon to come out with a victory.

Q. Depending on how much they guard each other, how do you see the matchup going against Bates-Diop and Mike?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: Yeah, not sure on their end totally how they'll do things. Mike, when you haven't played against him, his ability to shoot it in the range that he shoots it from poses some challenges. I guess they'll put different guys on him at different points in time.

Where Mike has been successful we try to determine is where he has the best advantage, whether it's in the block, on an isolation, on the perimeter and trying to do what we can to take advantage of that.

So I think you're dealing with two guys, both conference players of the year, both can score inside and outside, both who have a long career playing professional basketball. So it's just a really neat matchup.

Q. This is a chance to expose your program, your school to a lot of people that don't know a lot about South Dakota State. What would you like people to know about your program and your guys as they get in this position?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: I think first of all would like them to know about the character of the young men in our program. We're very selective in who we recruit and bring in. We want it to be people that are great citizens in the community, great on campus, and also have really high desires on the basketball court. And we want to recruit guys and bring in people that want to win, want to be in a winning program and understand that sometimes that takes sacrifice and may not be instant gratification.

As far as our school overall, just take a great sense of pride and the tremendous people we have, leaders on our campus and community, the camaraderie we have in Brookings, and the support we have from the great fans we have. So I think it's a unique situation, because it has a small town feel with big-time dreams and goals and visions.

Q. When you recruited Mike what did you see in him? Did you see him being as successful as he is today?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: I wasn't here when they recruited Mike. But what Coach Nagy, the former head coach, had told me is that they saw a skill set with him and his ability to shoot it with the size he had.

At the same time when he got here it wasn't like things just took off from the start. He needed to get in great shape. He needed to get a lot stronger. He needed to improve on playing with a really high base, so he could get moved all around. That first year they red-shirted him not knowing what might come from it.

And I think to Mike's credit, his work ethic, his character and his natural ability, he's put those things altogether to develop at such a rapid rate since he stepped foot on campus.

Q. I know all year you guys have emphasized rebounding and controlling the glass. No. 1 in the country for your program. Do you emphasize more this week how important the matchup on the glass will be, or if not, what do you think will be the biggest or one of the biggest pieces of the matchup?
T.J. OTZELBERGER: I do think the rebounding battle will be something that will be very telling. Oftentimes it sheds light on who the more aggressive team is that night.

For us on the defensive glass it's really important, because we like to get out in transition and go. And you need to make sure you're finishing plays on the board. I think for them they have such great physical toughness and bodies and they're so well coached, those guys play with great energy and effort on the offensive boards, and great effort on the defensive side. We're going to have to be not only very intentional, really competitive in those situations, because they're a very good rebounding team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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