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March 21, 2010

Matt Bouldin

Mark Few

Elias Harris


Syracuse – 87
Gonzaga - 65

THE MODERATOR: Joined by Gonzaga Coach Mark Few as well as Elias Harris and Matt Bouldin. Coach, if you want to go ahead and open with a statement and then we'll take questions for the student athletes after that.
MARK FEW: Yeah. I thought we would have to play great tonight to have a chance against this team and in this building. And we certainly didn't, and they have a lot to do with it. I thought all along that watching Coach's team that they've got a real chance to advance on and win this whole thing. I mean when they shoot the ball like that, I mean, they are hard to handle. The way they shot it, the consistency which -- the effort that they played with for the whole 40 minutes, they're an impressive group.
Rautins is really, really good live when you watch him. I don't think you see that all the time on tape or on TV. And obviously we knew Wes Johnson was one of the most talented guys in the league.
But, you know, it doesn't take away from the year we had. We had an awesome year. This team grew more than any team I've been able to coach and probably developed more from where we started on October 15th to now. So 27 wins is a heck of a deal for us. I'm really happy for these guys.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate it, Coach. We'll take questions for Elias or Matt at this time.

Q. For Matt, you guys have played Duke, you've played Michigan State. You've seen some good teams. Can you tell me how good is Syracuse?
MATT BOULDIN: They're really good. It was pretty obvious tonight. I think they have a legitimate shot at going really deep in this tournament. Of the teams we've played, I thought if not the -- probably the best team we've played. But we didn't really come out and play nearly as well as we thought we could have.

Q. For Elias, you were very successful attacking them down low early with you and Sacre. Did you feel like you had them back-peddling a little bit at that point and on the defensive?
ELIAS HARRIS: Yeah, I think you're right. Like the low roll. Robert and I attacked. Yes, worked out really good for the first five minutes of the first half. All of a sudden we lost our concept.

Q. Matt, can you comment on the difficulty just to get good open looks?
MATT BOULDIN: I mean, they run that zone to perfection. I mean, I said this earlier, that they're probably every practice squad in the country tries to mimic that 2-3, but it's not. I thought we got pretty good looks. I thought we moved the ball pretty well. We just didn't knock down the shots, and they did. For whatever reason. But they're very long, really athletic. They're always contesting every shot. That makes it tough, I guess.

Q. What impact -- we know what impact Johnson has offensively. What do you see from him defensively and on the boards?
ELIAS HARRIS: He's a very good rebounder. Defensively-wise and offensively-wise. Does a great job. As you can see, it worked out for him and for them.
THE MODERATOR: Anybody else? Okay, gentlemen. Thanks for coming in. Great season. Further questions now for Coach Few.

Q. Coach, it was a 1-point game when Jackson got his third foul. He goes out, and it -- it was looking good for you at that point. Then they held you scoreless for a long stretch there. What went wrong do you think there?
MARK FEW: I mean, I think it's all -- if you go back and watch it, it was -- we missed either a front end of a one and one and two free-throws. We had a couple of errant passes where we had people that were open and we had been finding them along the baseline that we didn't quite complete. It was probably four or five possessions where they came down, we fouled Rautins once. That kind of got him going. And then we messed up a defensive switch. We were supposed to be switching the ball screen. It left Wes Johnson wide open for a three. It was basically four possessions -- I think the four-minute time-out, we were within four or six and might have had the ball and shooting free-throws. Then we just did not stick with the plan, and turnovers and missed shots and missed free-throws. And they were very, very efficient and really closed it out.
I thought that was the game, that last four-minute -- from the four-minute time-out down.

Q. Mark, when a team is not making shots, the threes, is there a contagiousness about that almost? Did it appear that you got reasonable shots.
MARK FEW: That's a great call. We had very good shots. We moved the ball very well, we found guys along the baseline, we found Rob in there one-on-one. He hasn't seen much one-on-one coverage since the start of the year. Steve and Matt -- I know Syracuse does a great job of guarding the three line. We were able to move it and take it in and kick it out and getting guys wide open looks.
You just have to make them. You have to step up and make them against a team this good. And then conversely, when you go to the other end and they are just reining them in, many of them over a hand. The way Rautins just sprints out and makes those shots, I think until you've seen him a lot on tape, you think they're bad shots. He has an uncanny knack of just making those. Our hands were up. When they're going like that, they're better than anybody in the country. They are still going to have to make shots to win this thing. If they shoot it like they did today, nobody will beat them.

Q. People have wondered for a while just exactly how hurt Wes Johnson was with that injury he has had. When you see what he's done the last couple of games -- did you see him being hurt much of this year when he played, he didn't look like the same player than he did the last couple of games?
MARK FEW: I don't sit and watch every Syracuse game. I love Coach Boeheim, but it's hard to watch every one of those games. I thought all along that they were a team just maybe destined to play for the national championship. I still believe that. I didn't have the opportunity to see him when he was hurt. Seeing him live right now the way he's able to shoot it, that turn-around he hit on us on the free-throw line over our extended hand was, you know, that's what NBA lottery players do. He did a nice job on the glass. He gets 14 boards. He's a tough, tough guard. We tried to start Elias on him then put Matt on him in the second half. Then he posted Matt. He's a tough matchup.

Q. Mark, could you talk to Matt, what Matt meant to this program?
MARK FEW: I would have to write like a thesis on him. I don't think I can sum it up in one sentence. He's meant everything to this program. He's a quintessential Gonzaga guard. Now that it's over, he goes right alongside Stockton and Dickau and Stepp as one of the all-time greats. It's unfortunate he didn't get to end his career on maybe one of his best games. But still, as I told him afterwards, the fact that he was able to lead us to 27 games, we've never had so much turnover in our program. And been so inexperienced and so new. Matt was basically the guy that kind of had to pull it all together.

Q. You guys have played some great teams this year. But talk about the 2-3 zone that Syracuse featured today. Is that one of the best 2-3 zones you've ever seen coached in a college basketball?
MARK FEW: Yes, you don't see really somebody that extensively plays that 40 minutes a night. You'll face zone for ten minutes here, ten minutes there. A lot of teams are afraid to zone us. We haven't seen probably more than, I don't know, maybe 100 minutes total all year of zone. Maybe even less than that.
It's hard to generate rhythm against it, because you're shots aren't coming. In man you can almost dictate where you want your shots to come from. We had a great approach and a 24-hour turn-around. We were getting the ball right where we wanted to all the way up to about that 15-minute mark. Then we just kind of -- again we lost our way a little bit with just -- but we didn't catch balls, we didn't finish plays, we didn't finish free-throws. Kind of not generating a stop on the other end is probably the biggest thing when they shoot 60% at the half.

Q. Real quick follow-up. In terms of when Rick Jackson picked up that third foul for Syracuse, were you guys looking to really go inside on DaShonte Riley and his inexperience? He has only played, I think -- he hasn't played more than five minutes since December 22nd.
MARK FEW: We were looking to do that. But Sacre had two fouls too. We had to be cognizant of that fact. We were trying. But I don't think it's as easy as you would think. In a man-to-man situation you can pop it in there. What they do is they extend out with that zone and it's hard to make penetrating passes into your five. They're in the lanes and they're so long that you can't just say okay, let's just throw it right in there. Rob was scoring on Rick Jackson as easy as he was on the other kid. It's hard to consistently get the ball in there.

Q. Coach, I'm sure it was frustrating seeing them drain all those threes like you said, they were contested and they were still going down. Was it discouraging at all knowing that everything -- it seemed like everything they shot was going in and you were just going to climb this uphill battle.
MARK FEW: Yeah, I think it was all those words that start with a D: Discouraging, depressing, whatever. I can't think of any others. No, it was -- again, you have to tip your hat. When we go back and watch the film, a lot of them were closely guarded. The thing that eats you as coach is when we messed up on a switch that we've been doing all year and they get a three. When we don't play on the top shoulder on the perimeter and either Jardine or Triche punched the middle and kicked out for an easy three. They throw in the post. We weren't supposed to help at the start of the second half. We kind of turn our head to look and they pitch it right out to Andy, and he drains a three. Those are the ones you want back. You tip your hat on the ones that are closely guarded. The ones where we were kind at fault as far as getting the open look are the ones you would like back.
I'm telling you, if they shoot the basketball like that, I don't see anybody beating them. But I don't think it's realistic to think they can continue to shoot the ball like that. Though you watch how they played this weekend, they were every bit as dialed in as that Carolina club we played last year in Memphis. I can tell you that. Every bit as impressive as -- like I said last year, that's the best college team I've seen last year in that Sweet 16 game.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, congrats on a great season.
MARK FEW: Thank you, thanks.

End of FastScripts

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