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March 15, 2018

Wes Miller

Demetrius Troy

Francis Alonso

Boise, Idaho

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome UNCG.

WES MILLER: Well, I don't think I could be prouder of my group. We're 0-13 in the first half, 3-8 from the free throw line and we're in a three-possession game at halftime. And I think that says a lot about the toughness we've had all year, the grit that we've had all year. So I felt really fortunate because I felt we got pretty good looks in the first half, maybe we had to kick some jitters off.

In the second half I thought things opened up for us offensively. The ball started going through the basket. And certainly in the first half James Dickey kind of kept us in it. I thought he was in a good rhythm offensively. Probably could have done a better job getting him the ball in the second half.

In the second half Demetrius and Francis got us going with the plays, not just for themselves but for other guys. And then our defense wasn't what it wanted to be, especially to start the second half. But I thought we had some tough possessions, just to go get 50/50 balls. There were a couple of scrums around the basket and you always kick yourself and go "what if"; what if we came up with that one or this one.

But I thought our fight to the ball was pretty good. We'll always think about that last minute or so and think kind of "what if." I could have made some better play calls. I changed the play call coming out of the timeout. And I put Francis in a really tough position. I think if I kept the first one it wouldn't have been scouted and we might have got a better look and not turned it over.

And then I think for these young guys, the guys that will be returning, we can build on the fact that we had all off season we've been a good defensive team, but we can get better. We had a lead, two possessions to get stops to win a game. And we gave up five points in those two possessions.

There are some things we can learn from and build on, but I couldn't be prouder.

Q. The play late in the second half where the ball skimmed off the rim and they didn't reset the clock, how did that happen?
FRANCIS ALONSO: To be honest, I didn't really even notice it. All I hear is guys from the benches yelling at me, You've got to shoot, you've got to shoot the ball. We kept playing. And I think that play didn't really affect us as a team in the last stretch of the game.

For me personally, I could have guarded the ball better in the last two possessions, and we could have had a better chance to win the game. But absolutely that play didn't affect us for the rest of the game.

Q. Mark Few said he was surprised how well you were able to penetrate and score. Your thoughts on why that was working so well and how much of a difference that made today?
DEMETRIUS TROY: Well, I think it worked really well. Coach Miller gives us a lot of freedom to just play very freely and open and confidently. And Coach was just giving us a lot of great play calls for us to be able to get into the lane. And we were able to continually get down there and make things happen. So we just kept going along with what was working.

Q. The play with 20 seconds left where they called the foul on you, what was that play supposed to be? Take me through that sequence, what happened there.
FRANCIS ALONSO: You're talking about coming off the screen and they called an offensive foul? Well, I was hearing from the Gonzaga bench that they knew the play. So I was trying to set up a ball screen for me. The guy stepped on my feet. I was leaning into him. The ref called charge for some situations that had happened during the game. And you can't control that.

And I'm still frustrated by the defensive stops that I didn't get, guarding the ball. And the last possession, and those situations, there are things that I can control as a player. But absolutely that call, it was -- that was a ref's decision so I couldn't blame them.

Q. Not making the 3-pointer in the first half, he said you had some looks. How would you assess what wasn't working in getting those shots falling in the first half?
FRANCIS ALONSO: Of course playing against a great team as Gonzaga and making wide open 3s or good looks is going to hurt you by the end of the game. Some 3s went in and out, but it happens. We stayed true to our values on the defensive aspect of the team. We knew that some shots aren't going to go in. And it happened today, unfortunately.

But we fought, as Coach said, in a defensive aspect on the other side of the court. And we kept competing. We kept competing as a team and we didn't give up. So we've got to be proud of that. Of course, really sad because we didn't have our day offensively.

Q. You have only one senior in your starting lineup -- two seniors in your starting lineup. What can this team build for next season, and how encouraging is it that you'll have players coming back?
WES MILLER: We hit on that in the locker room. We've really worked hard to try to build culture on a day-to-day basis in our program. And I told our guys in the locker room that our seniors from last year, Diante Baldwin and R.J. White, were probably really proud watching them play in the NCAA tournament. And for the returning guys, Jordy Kuiper and Marvin Smith and Garrett Collins and Justin Jordan, our seniors this year, be really proud if we can take a step forward and keep growing our program.

So we do have the opportunity to keep growing and moving forward. And I'm excited about the young guys in our program and the returning guys. These two guards sitting up here today, they're pretty darned good players, they'll be seniors next year. Hopefully we can continue to try to grow one at a time.

Q. You said you put Francis in a tough position. I know there were two possessions, the offensive foul and one where he was really behind the eight ball trying to get a shot off. But I just wanted to get your breakdown of what happened on those.
WES MILLER: We had the ball there and I looked up and there's 50 seconds or so on the clock. And we were struggling to guard him in the second half. I felt like we were searching at times. And I felt like we tried the zone a little bit. We were trying to mix up how we were playing the post.

But I felt like sometimes we were lucky, they missed some quality 3s. I thought we really guarded in the first half. I didn't think we were as good defensively. So I looked up and it's a feel thing, sometimes I've gone two for one with this team, sometimes I haven't. I looked up and said, man, we can go two for one.

I want the ball in Francis's hand, we needed a basket, we give him the ball and give him space. We set a high ball screen, and I wanted to get the two-for-one opportunity, which we did, but I don't think he got a great look and I probably sped him up a little bit. And then coming out of the timeout there after Norvell hit the big three. Again, I had the call, the same set, and I changed it to another call in the set. The one that I changed it to they had scouted and I put him in a tough position.

I don't think any of our calls are were bad calls, but you think "what if," I think that's what you do in this situation as a player and coach. People say, man, you were pretty gutsy when you threw the lob, we were up two, but they were starting to really extend on pin-downs.

I love Demetrius and James, they've connected on a lot of lobs this year. And we weren't going to be afraid tonight, we were going to come out swinging. People might think that's a gutsy call, I thought James would call it, and come down with it, there might have been a little contact there, we have to look at the film. We didn't execute in the last minute and a half, and we'll have to go through the film and look at that.

Q. Two things about James, you pulled him about 90 seconds into the game. What did you talk about? Were you surprised how well he got off the block offensively against a team that's long and tall?
WES MILLER: You mean 90 seconds in the first half? He gave the tired signal which is why he came out there early. I thought he was in a great rhythm offensively. Our team was in a good rhythm offensively. We got quality shots, we just couldn't seem to make them. But he was the one guy that had it going a little bit.

The last two or three weeks he's been sped up a little bit on offense, he's so excited, plays with such good energy. I thought he had slowed down around the basket tonight and that's who he's been most of the year. But maybe he was just a little too excited.

Tonight he was really under control with the ball there. We're not even in the game in the first half offensively if it's not for him. He was tremendous tonight. He's been defensive player of the year in the Southern Conference. You look now and he's got 11 rebounds tonight and I thought he was a factor defensively. He's a tremendous young player, and we're fortunate he'll be back for the next two years.

Q. You talked yesterday about the problems they present for you in the post. You out-rebounded this team tonight. How pleased were you with that effort and particularly the effort inside from your guys?
WES MILLER: I thought we had to do that to give ourselves a chance. I thought we made a great effort to get the ball in the second half. I don't think we guarded as well, I don't think it was from lack of effort, they're just a really good team. Give them the credit. They can execute offense, so we were struggling.

But the one thing I think we did was we pursued the ball well. My favorite play of the night was Marvin going for a loose ball, gets knocked to the ground. Sometimes that's frustrating, you thought you had it, you get knocked off your position, he just sprints up and goes and gets a big-time rebound in traffic.

I thought we had an edge in the second half to go get the ball, even though I thought they were in good rhythm offensively.

Q. Mark talked about how essential he thought it was that they guarded the three. He also said he thought you guys were exceptionally efficient at driving for 2s in the second half. Did you emphasize in any particular way dribble penetration as a reaction to what they were trying to do to you?
WES MILLER: We're a spread team. We try to open the floor up and let the guys go. We like to shoot the 3. We got 22 looks, and I venture to think that 18 of them were pretty good looks for us. But the one thing we did really emphasize was being strong with the ball and we did drive. We thought we could drive it. But they're good at coming in and getting deflections. We saw that on tape. We drilled it this week. We talked a lot about it.

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