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March 22, 2013

Mark Few

Elias Harris

Kelly Olynyk

Kevin Pangos


THE MODERATOR:テつ We are joined by the student‑athletes from Gonzaga, Kevin Pangos, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.テつ Questions for our student‑athletes?

Q.テつ Kelly, talk about your red shirt year last year.テつ Was it difficult for you not to play?テつ What did you learn from it?テつ What part of your game got better?テつ You went from 5 points a game to being a first‑team All‑American.
KELLY OLYNYK:テつ A lot changed over that red shirt year.テつ It gave me an opportunity to work on my game.テつ I didn't have to be rested for games at night, so I could work nonstop basically.テつ I got in the weight room a lot, tried to change my body and my athleticism and worked on the inside game to try to complement the skills I had before and make myself more versatile and a threat all over the floor.
Also in that red shirt year, I got to see the game from the coaches' perspective and see what the coaches wanted and how the coaches wanted the game to run and that kind of stuff.テつ So I think that really helped me as well.

Q.テつ Kevin, how much of a selling point is being a part of the tradition of guards that Gonzaga has built up over the last 15 years or so?
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ For me, why I chose Gonzaga?テつ Yeah, it was big.テつ When you're looking at a school you always want to see if they've had people like you in the past, because then when you get there they know how to work with you and get the best out of you.
The guards in the past at Gonzaga were great, about my size, Dan Dickau, Derek Raivio and the list goes on.テつ They're around the program, so I can speak to them about the game and they help me out all the time.

Q.テつ Elias, last night you didn't have the game you wanted.テつ Tomorrow you are facing a similar team.テつ How do you turn that around?
ELIAS HARRIS:テつ I just got to keep fighting'.テつ Yesterday wasn't the game I wanted to have, but I'm mature enough to know I have to keep attacking, keep rebounding, play with a higher level.

Q.テつ Kevin, do you remember Nick Wiggins from your high school days?テつ Can you talk about the battles there?テつ I also talked to Chadrack Lufile, he says he remembers you well, Kelly from the National Junior Program.テつ Can you talk about a rivalry and bragging rights between the Canadians going in?
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ For me, I'm close with Nick's brother, Andrew.テつ He's my roommate on the National Team, and I played against him in high school.テつ I never played against Nick.テつ I was too young for that.テつ He was a bit older.テつ I definitely know the family really well, so for me it will be bragging rights, definitely.
KELLY OLYNYK:テつ I spent a year in Hamilton where Chadrack is from, and he was around the program I was in with NEDA, the National Elite Development Academy; and yes, there will be bragging rights.

Q.テつ Did you guys learn anything from last night in terms of being number one and being the team everybody else wants to beat?テつ Is it lonely at the top?テつ Wichita made no bones about it.テつ They want to beat the number one team in the nation.
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ You said it right there.テつ Everyone wants to beat the No. 1 team.テつ That is no surprise.テつ We knew it going into this.テつ I wouldn't say it's lonely at the top.テつ It's a challenge.テつ It's nothing new to us.テつ It's a new day, and Southern came out with great effort.テつ But as I said, it's a new day and Wichita, we're going to play tough.
KELLY OLYNYK:テつ Exactly what Kevin said, I wouldn't say it's lonely at all.テつ It's kind of just a number once you get into this situation and of course everyone wants to be the No. 1 seed, but in our situation we want to beat the No. 9 seed.
ELIAS HARRIS:テつ I think we will all come out with a higher energy and everyone will try to knock off the No. 1 seed, so we have to be ready for any challenge.

Q.テつ If you could talk about Wichita State and your study of them and what jumps out at you about them, particularly their defensive abilities?
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ They're a tough, physical team is what we have seen so far.テつ They got a lot of depth, a bunch of guys score and contribute so it's not just like you have to shutdown one guy.テつ They crash the glass and they're great on the boards.テつ We have to be physical and tough, go into the game and execute what our coach's strategy is.

Q.テつ You say No. 1 is just No. 1 when you get to this point, but there is pressure on this team to get back to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999, obviously well before your time.テつ Can you speak to playing with that as a backdrop as you head into the tournament and as you've played it out here?
ELIAS HARRIS:テつ I try to avoid all the talk about being No. 1 and having that pressure on our backs because the way I see it, and I'm pretty sure my teammates look at it the same way.テつ We take it game by game and don't look ahead, because that's poison right there.
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ For me, you say there is an expectation.テつ But that's for you guys.テつ The expectation is not for us to make the Elite Eight.テつ Our expectation is to win the next game.テつ So when you say that, I think that's for everyone else to think of.テつ Our expectation is on Wichita State and that's really it.
KELLY OLYNYK:テつ I think exactly what they said.テつ We're just taking it game by game.テつ People have their own expectations, their own insights about what we should and could accomplish and we have our own.テつ As a team we're just a big family right now and we want to take this thing as far as we can.テつ None of us want to stop playing with each other.テつ We love playing with each other.テつ We have had the most fun I have had at Gonzaga this year and we don't want it to stop.

Q.テつ A lot of folks were talking about their win over Pitt yesterday saying this team was impressive.テつ A lot of folks didn't expect Wichita State to put up that kind of a performance against a Pittsburgh team.テつ Did you get a chance to watch it and were you impressed by how they looked?
KELLY OLYNYK:テつ We got a little chance to watch the film yesterday, last night and this morning.テつ We didn't get a chance to watch the game live at all, we were preparing for our own game.
They were impressive, nonetheless.テつ They're a physical team.テつ Like Kevin said earlier, they have a lot of guys contributing and guys who can score and they're on the glass nonstop.テつ We have to be ready for a battle, it's going to be a hard‑fought game, physical, both end of the floor and rough under the glass.
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ I would say the same thing.テつ They can play.テつ Maybe people were surprised because they're from a smaller conference beating a team like Pitt, but they took Pitt out of what they wanted to do from what it looked like.テつ Aggressive on defense and ran the floor, so they're a tough team.テつ But it will be a fun match‑up.

Q.テつ Kevin, the Wichita players say they saw what Southern was able to do yesterday coming up, playing hard, playing physical and knocking down the outside shots.テつ How do you battle their physical play?
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ Be physical right back.テつ We don't shy away from that; our team is tough.テつ We don't back down from that at all.テつ We have been in games like that before, and we got to guard the 3‑point line because Southern was hitting the last game.テつ When teams get on a roll they gain momentum that way so we have to keep teams from doing that and getting confidence from the 3‑point line.

Q.テつ Can you guys talk about some of the things that Kelly has brought to you guys from an obvious impact this year?テつ You guys seem like a close‑knit group.テつ Can you elaborate how your friendship is off the court?
KEVIN PANGOS:テつ Kelly brings so many different pieces to our team, vocal leadership.テつ He said he learned from the coach's perspective last year and he brings that to the floor.テつ He'll tell guys spots to be and corrections to make.テつ He's so versatile he can play inside/outside and gets big baskets when we need him.テつ He's a tough cover.
The chemistry with this team is like none other I've been on.テつ Guys love being around each other on and off the court, so it's special, really.
ELIAS HARRIS:テつ I agree with Kevin.テつ Kelly brings great leadership to this team.テつ He learned a lot last year, seeing the basketball game from the coach's perspective, and he helps us out.テつ If he sees us doing something and he reminds young guys what to do and off the court, we're a big family of brothers.テつ It's just tremendous.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, gentlemen.テつ We are joined by Coach Mark Few.テつ Questions for Coach?テつ .

Q.テつ Hey, Coach, question on Kelly.テつ What made you guys decide to red shirt him?テつ Talk about his improvement from two years ago to where he is today.テつ He talked about seeing the game from a coaching perspective.テつ I was wondering if you could provide a specific instance in that?
COACH FEW:テつ Well, you know, I think between Kelly and ourselves we kinda came to that conclusion that it might be a good move to red shirt him.テつ He was frustrated in that.テつ He was kinda stuck, log jam of good players.テつ We had Robert Sacre, Sam Dower, himself, and they had all been kinda sharing minutes.
I think he also realized that he wasn't quite where he wanted to be physically or maybe quite with his skill development, and he and I weren't on the same page.テつ I was frustrated with him.テつ I wanted him to take his game inside more, he's 7 feet tall, and do some things in there and he wanted to play on the perimeter.テつ He played on the perimeter a lot in high school.
I think that combined with just how great of a teammate he is.テつ He is an unbelievable "team first" guy.テつ He took this thing head on.テつ When he was in practice on the scout team, on game day, that's when he became like a graduate assistant coach, you know, because he is off‑the‑charts intelligent young man and he's very intuitive.
We would assign him things to chart, things to keep track of during the games and he was after, mostly with the bigs, and he was after those guys, their rebound effort, their post touches, their assignments defensively.テつ Then I think he keyed in on, or a light went off on, when he would see us frustrated or me frustrated, he was like, oh, I get it.テつ I'm frustrated, too.テつ Those guys aren't doing what we went through in walk‑through today.
So I think that opened it up, and I think he started valuing scoring the ball around the basket and adding that to his game.

Q.テつ How important obviously going back to a guy like Matt Santangelo with the foundation of great guards to what you've built and how you have been able to sell recruits on being part of that lineage?
COACH FEW:テつ It's an easy sell.テつ It goes all the way back to John.テつ We have had a tremendous run of guards at Gonzaga and I think they see our style of play and they see we develop them.テつ We put them in a system where they're going to get to run, play, play fast, but also the freedom to make decisions on their own, if you look at our track record, our ability to move 'em on to the next level.
I think that combined with all those factors plus the winning and 15 straight NCAA Tournament it's a pretty easy sell.

Q.テつ With time left in their careers, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, how do you feel they'll fit into that pantheon, eventually?
COACH FEW:テつ They've been remarkable with their consistency.テつ Everybody kept thinking they were going to hit a freshman wall last year and they never did.
Now here they are their sophomore year, and they have really improved as far as their development with the ball screens.テつ They're much farther ahead than they were last year at this juncture.テつ They're much farther ahead with their defensive things we can do with them defensively, and I see them just continuing to progress along those lines.

Q.テつ Coach, you've called this your best defensive team.テつ When you look back over the last six or seven years, though, statistically you've had some good defensive units so it's been an evolution.テつ What's that evolution been like to reemphasize some things, get players who can play the kind of defense you want to play?
COACH FEW:テつ Well, the one that I remember, we had a really good defensive team at least numbers‑wise with Austin Daye, because we were able to switch a lot of screens with Austin, because he was so long.テつ We had bigger guards, Jeremy Pargo who was strong enough to switch on to a big, or Matt Bouldin or Steven Gray.
But this team has been much stronger as far as taking scouting reports and executing the plan with our ball screen coverage and maybe what we're doing in the post and things like that.
The way we grade our team defensively with just, you know, our DER, points per possession, and kind of things we value this has definitely been the best team in a while.

Q.テつ Mark, Wichita State doesn't appear to need to make any shots to keep playing' hard on defense.テつ How does that affect the way you look at them or how you prepare for their defense?
COACH FEW:テつ Well, I mean, the first thing that comes to mind when you watch them play is how tough they are.テつ They're just a tough‑minded group, and they're very confident.テつ And they got a real belief in, I think, not only their defensive system, but their rebounding.テつ I think that carries over to the other end, where Gregg let us them play with confidence.
So that allows them tocome at you in a lot of different ways.テつ They play with a lot of freedom on offense and they have some real weapons.テつ They got a great post player in Hall, a swing guy in Early, you know, that can hurt you in so many ways.テつ And Armstead is really having a heck of a year for them, also.

Q.テつ Coach, can you talk about Gary's transformation as your shut‑down defender for the team's best guard?テつ And how you think he matches up against Armstead?
COACH FEW:テつ We have asked Gary to be that guy for two years now.テつ He was doing that a lot as a freshman.テつ This year he's got some help from Michael Hart in that position, and I think that's been a real key for our defense, too, as he Mike have won the other guys over with playing defense with focus and intensity every single time down the floor instead of 70% of the time.
But we will have him on Malcolm Armstead and we will have a lot of our guys on Malcolm Armstead, you know, it's not somebody we can guard full‑time with one guy.テつ He's a heck of a player in transition.テつ He's dangerous with the ball screens, you know.テつ He's shooting' it well or confident from the three line, but he's an excellent finisher for his size down there in the lane, too.テつ He's a handful and coming in on a roll.テつ So he's even more dangerous now.

Q.テつ I know you had a relationship, or have a relationship with Mark Turgeon, an affinity for him.テつ I'm wondering as the guy that has led the program that's been the model for the non‑BCS programs.テつ Is there an affinity in an odd way that you might have for a program like Wichita State that reached a Sweet 16 in 2006, has been part of the NCAA Tournament, has won games, won championships, and are not shy about aspiring to what you guys have become at Gonzaga?
COACH FEW:テつ There has always been a healthy dose of respect.テつ I have always watched from afar their scores and been impressed how they change personnel year‑in and year‑out.テつ Yet here they are again.テつ I've always admired their consistency and also, you know.テつ The situations remind me in that the city of Wichita supports them like the city of Spokane supports the Zags.テつ Just an incredible loyal support of fans that follow and travel and care.
That's part of what makes those jobs so special.テつ I bet if you talked to Gregg you would see probably that's one of the real factors that have kept him there.テつ He's been very successful.

Q.テつ Anything about yesterday's game alarming to you or were you pretty happy with the way you played?
COACH FEW:テつ You know what?テつ I'm fine‑‑ I'm not into‑‑ at this point of the year I don't think we need to worry about esthetics or, you know, differences.テつ You just got to‑‑ I know it's clichテδゥ, survive and advance, but there really is no other alternative.テつ We're not getting style points and we're not getting graded, you know, you either win or your season is over.
I knew it was going to be a tough game, probably a lot tougher than most people out there thought after watch that go team play.テつ Secretly I was hoping it wouldn't come down to the last four minutes because I've watched those type of games before where everything really starts mounting on the No. 1 seed.
But I also knew that, I mean, this club I have this year has just been unbelievable in the last four minutes of pretty much every game.テつ So we have a confidence about us, and a focus that we do a pretty good job of getting the ball where it needs to go down the stretch and guys step up and make plays.テつ We were fortunate to do that, because if we didn't do that last night we would have lost.

Q.テつ I wanted to ask you a bigger picture question.テつ I know you're focused in on the game tomorrow.テつ How important was it for you specifically as a coach for Gonzaga, to get a No. 1 seed?テつ Can you speak to the hand‑in‑hand pressure and expectation that comes with making a first Elite Eight down the road and what that speaks to your legacy in terms of tournament success?
COACH FEW:テつ Well, this has nothing to do with me whatsoever.テつ It never has and it never will.テつ My deal is to make this experience as great as it possibly can be for my guys.テつ It's about the program and the school and the community.テつ It's never been about me and it never will be about me.テつ I don't really ever think about my legacy.テつ That's to be determined by my wife and kids and what kind of family guy I am and what kind of dad I am.
As far as the No. 1 seed, to me it wasn't a huge deal.テつ I was kind of‑‑ both being ranked No. 1 and a No. 1 seed I was surprised how big of a deal it was to everybody.テつ Then after I had that beaten into my head over and over I just decided, hey, that's a pretty cool deal.
It's great for the community, really rallying around it, the city of Spokane took a lot of pride in it and I think it meant a lot to the guys in the school.テつ I think it's something our guys will be able to always talk about and they will be able to be the first team at Gonzaga to accomplish that, which is huge.

Q.テつ When you looked at Tekele Cotton and the defensive job he did yesterday on Tray Woodall, what things stuck out about him?
COACH FEW:テつ I hate to be redundant, but a tough, tough guy, you know?テつ That's kinda what Wichita State has, tough, aggressive, confident players.テつ Obviously he's another guy, like Gary on our team, that takes pride in that.テつ He's got the athleticism and the body and the size that he can do that to a lot of different people.
Regardless of who he ends up on tomorrow, I'm sure he's going to really come at us with that same intensity he's been showing all year.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.テつ

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