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March 19, 2010
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
Gonzaga - 67
Florida State - 60
THE MODERATOR: Joined by athletes and Head Coach Mark Few from Gonzaga who advances on and improves to 27-6. Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray and Robert Sacre have joined us. We'll have the same format as earlier, opening statement by Coach. Coach, if you want to make your opening statement, we'll go from there.
MARK FEW: Any time you can dig out an NCAA tournament win, it's a great thing. For us to come all the way across the country here, play the number one defensive team in the country and be able to execute the way we did and put ourselves in position to win a game like that, I'm extremely proud of these guys. We knew it was going to be hard-fought. We knew it was going to be physical with their length and athleticism and just how tough they were on the glass. But I thought our mindset was great from the start.
We ended up out-rebounding them and had a big edge on the glass at halftime. I think when we're in that frame of mind, that's probably when we're at our best. So it was a great job by these guys keeping their poise down the stretch because we knew they would make a run, and they did. And they made some tough shots and they deserve a lot of credit for that. They showed a lot of heart.
I thought Florida State did hang with it, hang with it and they pushed us all the way to the very end. But these guys did a great job of keeping their poise.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Take questions just for Matt, Steven and Robert at this time.
Q. Steven, can you express your anguish about the time that Dulkys banked the three in and they were making a run at you?
STEVEN GRAY: It's just one of those things. When a shooter like that gets it going, you know, they always say he can throw it up from anywhere and it seems to go in. It was just one of those -- this really can't -- he's not going to bank that three. Now try to make the next one tougher on him and just try and do anything you can to get through screens and contest the shots.
Q. Again, did you feel like -- what were you trying to do to get a clamp on Dulkys at that point? What were you trying to do to cut him off?
STEVEN GRAY: Just stay on his hip. You know, when he catches it, make sure I'm there on the catch with the hand up. Just make it tough for him.
Q. Rob, could you talk about how tough it was inside tonight?
ROBERT SACRE: It was very physical. But Coach has been emphasizing in practice that it was going to be a physical game. So going in, you just knew you were going to hit bodies. We knew coming to Buffalo it's going to be a Buffalo Sabres game, basically.
THE MODERATOR: Good reference.
Q. For Matt and Robert, you guys as a program go anywhere any time to play anyone. When a game like this is over, do you have a second to realize how much that experience helps on a day like this?
ROBERT SACRE: You need to talk.
MATT BOULDIN: You know, it obviously helps us a lot. We play on in so many big games like that all across the country that they're essentially NCAA tournament games, really. But after the game I'm not really thinking about all those other games we had. I'm just really happy about that victory, really.
ROBERT SACRE: Like I was just thinking about the Illinois game when we were in there like how they came back on us and it was one of those things where we knew we could pull it out. I have confidence in all these guys and they have confidence in me. So we just knew -- it's not new to us basically.
Q. You guys shot 50%, seemed to get pretty good looks most of the night. Can you talk about the keys to that and maybe the balance of inside and outside production?
MATT BOULDIN: I think that was a huge part of it. I thought our bigs, especially Rob, really attacked them down low. Got to the foul line a ton. And Elias was really active down there. He was stepping on the short corner and knocked counsel some threes, getting second-chance points. I think anytime you get easy buckets or get points in the paint, you're going to shoot a high percentage. And from the outside, I thought we shot it pretty well. We got decent looks. But I thought all the points in the paint were huge and a big reason why we shot such a high percentage.
Q. For all the players, you got a good seed in the tournament but it's going to put you against potentially the top seed, Syracuse in the west region. But you're going to be playing against a very pro-Syracuse crowd here possibly on Sunday. How do you feel about that? How tough will that be?
ROBERT SACRE: Well, like we focused one thing at a time, one game at a time basically. Florida State we pretended this was our championship game. Then we're going to go in basically against Syracuse viewing it as our championship game. One game at a time that's how we view it. I feel that's going to help us in the long run.
MATT BOULDIN: I kind of look back to what Rob said. We've been there before. I think of that Illinois game, that Michigan State game, that Memphis game. This won't be any different. We watched them all year and we look at it as an unbelievable opportunity to come out and play them and hopefully play our best.
Q. Steve, talk about that shot you made with the shot clock winding down. One of your memorable shots, maybe?
STEVEN GRAY: Maybe. (Laughter) I don't really know. I don't really quite, looking back, you -- you don't understand the magnitude of something until you can look at it down the road. It was just one of those things, end of the shot clock, ball hits your hands and you just got to get it up on the rim. I thought it was a decent enough look with that much time on the clock. I just hoisted it up. So...
Q. Robert, from a distance it looked like you got a kick out of the Canadian National Anthem being played; is that the case?
ROBERT SACRE: We don't play it enough at Gonzaga. So I thought might as well take it in. We're close to the border. It was really appreciative. I was enjoying it a lot, actually.
Q. Steven, can you tell us what maybe they were doing differently in the second half? You had that big 18-point lead late in the first half and then they dwindled it down below six. Were they doing anything differently defensively? Were you doing anything differently offensively?
STEVEN GRAY: I think kind of had a little drought on defense where gave them easy baskets. A lot of dumpdowns, dunks, dribble penetration were given up quite a bit. And then later in the game they just started knocking down jumpshots, knocking down threes.
I think it was a combination of things. We got a little panicked, rushed, forced some passes in we probably shouldn't have thrown. I think it was a combination of giving them easy baskets on one end and turning it over on the other.
Q. What did you make of your matchup with -- we were talking the other day about playing more physically considered. He's a pretty physical guy for anyone, I suppose.
ROBERT SACRE: Coach Few scheduled some big guys against me. I felt it was just another big game. Another big guy. So I'm kind of used to it now. You just have to hit some bodies and throw my body around. We're in March now. So you just have to give it your all.
Q. Robert, who was your favorite NHL team and how can you describe Sabres hockey?
ROBERT SACRE: Dominik Hasek was one of the greatest goalies of all time. When he brought them to the Stars, to the NHL Cup, that was amazing. I have to go with the Vancouver Canucks just because that's a local team. And then I'm torn between Calgary as well. Jerome Iginla is a great captain.
Q. Who was your favorite curler while we're on this subject?
ROBERT SACRE: Leslie Nielson in "Men With Brooms."
THE MODERATOR: Can't get any better than that. Thanks, guys. Appreciate your time. We'll open to further questions for Coach Few. Start right down here.
Q. Mark, the combination of shooting 50% and outrebounding them, how much of a hurdle or challenge was that going into the game?
MARK FEW: It was a monster challenge. I don't know if this is factual. Somebody said in the locker room they didn't shoot 50%. Whether that's true or not, the fact of the tape I watched, for us to be as efficient on the offensive end as we were, our guys just played with an incredible amount of poise and they stuck with the game plan and that would be very much true on the glass. We spent a week talking about that. Our numbers were down a little bit since we lost Manny. He's one of our best rebounders. That was a big concern.
We had a really good approach tonight on the defensive end and on the glass, I thought.
Q. You guys played real physical and played real tough, physically, but also mentally tough. How do you develop that with such a young group?
MARK FEW: It just -- takes a lot of time. It takes a season. And it takes putting yourself in positions like in the Breslin Center in early November with a great Michigan State team pounding on you and coming at you and trying to continue to execute and make plays there and make plays on the defensive end and just playing with poise and then some of that has been handed down.
It's been handed down over the years. Handed down to Matt and Steve and now Matt and Steve are in the process of handing it down to Rob and Meech and some of the other guys.
Q. I know in the course of the game you are absorbed in what you were doing. Does this feel like any one of those games that you've booked along the way; Illinois, Michigan State?
MARK FEW: Well, yeah. A lot of those games we were able to jump out and play fairly well in the first half. And then you know, a lot of teams make adjustments and other teams usually starts getting some momentum if you let them. We gave them a couple of easy baskets. Some momentum started. And I would say very much so. But in all those aforementioned games we played with a lot of poise and were able to kind of withstand some rallies.
But they were every bit as physical as the game was tonight. Actually this game might have been a little more physical. There were some big boys banging around out there every time a shot went up.
Q. How good of a feel to start the game -- I think you had seven assists in the first nine baskets?
MARK FEW: It felt great. Again, if you remember what we talked about yesterday, I thought it was very important for us to be able to -- our offense versus their defense. Those -- something had to give. It's always great when you spend all week with a game plan and your guys come out and show it on the floor.
We want to make a couple of extra passes. We want them to move it around and execute our screens, ball screen or down screen. And then see if they would help and set up guys. So we set up guys all night for the most part. I thought in the second half we just got a little bit anxious and we tried to make plays off the first screen. We just needed to swing the ball.
Q. Coach, I'll ask you the same question: Do you think it's fair that you're going to have to play Syracuse here most likely?
MARK FEW: I don't know if fair exists out there in the world. It is what it is. It says we have to, so we're going to be here and look at it as a great opportunity. It's one of the tough things when you're in that eight or nine game. You have to play a one seed. Last year we ran into a great one seed. This year we're running into another one seed. Hopefully we can fare a little bit better. They have had an awesome year.
And I think this might have been one of Coach Boeheim's greatest jobs. He's had some great ones. He's one of the all-time best. He's a good friend of mine. I've always looked up to him and how he's done things. I'm just marvelled at how this team has played throughout this whole year. So very deserving of a number one seed.
It's going to be quite a task. But, you know, like we talked about earlier, a lot of those games we played in earlier hopefully will prepare us for this.
Q. Mark, talking about those games and what you're going to face, talk about the players' poise. What are they like before a game? Do you notice how they relax? How do they handle it?
MARK FEW: What you just saw is, you know -- there's no more laid back player in college basketball than Steven Gray. Sometimes you have to take his pulse. But there's also a fire that burns in that belly of his. He's also one of the greatest competitors I've had the chance to coach. And he's a warrior and the same with Rob. Rob is a funny, charismatic clown but when it's time, I mean, Rob is a warrior. Matt is just more of a stoic, solid what-you-see-what-you-get. I think all three of those things -- all three of those guys, Elias is very much like Matt. Very stoic and just so consistent both of those two have had such consistent years. That gives you kind of a window into what I see, I guess.
Q. Maybe lost in the shuffle of their big surge in the second half, your surge in the first half, was late in the game your guys were able to hit free-throws. I think eight of their last ten. Can you just speak of the importance of that?
MARK FEW: No, very big. Goodson hit them. He's been struggling at the line. He stepped up and hit some very, very big free-throws. Steven and Matt have been shooting them great all year. We thought coming into this they're a very physical team. Sometimes when you play physical teams you have to be able to deliver through foul or get yourself to the line. We got to the line 30 times, made 22 of them. That was a big part of the game.
Q. Mark, two wins by WCC schools. I don't know when that's happened last in the first round. Any thoughts on what's at work there?
MARK FEW: They're good teams. I think we got knocked pretty hard in the seeding process for losing to St. Mary's. And I think it shows how good of a league we had this year. I think the top-end teams this year were the best they've ever been all the way down probably to fifth place, Loyola went on the road and beat Notre Dame. Certainly the way San Francisco was playing at the end of the year, they were a tough out. And then everybody knows what Portland did early. Had they not lost Raivio, I think that was a team that probably, who knows, could have made the NCAA tournament or maybe the NIT.
So St. Mary's is playing really, really good basketball right now. They're shooting it -- probably the best shooting team left in the tournament, maybe them and Cornell. They'll be a very tough out for Villanova tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for your time.
End of FastScripts