Tourney Talk: CHD sits in on the Gonzaga conference call

Last week Gonzaga beat St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference tournament title game to earn an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs had a seven-point loss to Ohio State in the third round of the 2012 NCAA tourney, but bounced back in 2013 to claim the number one ranking in the nation and the first #1-seed in school history. Last night Jon Teitel got to participate in the school’s conference call with Kelly Olynyk, Mike Hart, Kevin Pangos, Elias Harris, and Coach Mark Few.

Kelly Olynyk
There was more suspense and excitement in the room this year due to CBS not announcing all the number one seeds to start the selection show.  My confidence is at an all-time high right now, both in myself and in our team regarding what we can accomplish on the court. Our strength and conditioning coach Travis Knight has been huge in my development, he is good at personalizing my workouts to help me develop my body.

We just have to come out and play our style of basketball and not look past anybody. The Canadian national team gave me opportunities to play all over the world when I was not playing as much here in the US: Joel Anthony played a huge part in helping me out on the national team. We have had time to work on our game over the past week, but did not get to watch much of the selection show because our teammate’s dog ate our TV remote!

Mike Hart
There are a heck of a lot of good teams in our bracket like New Mexico, Arizona and Ohio State. We are ready to play against any sort of team. It is special to be the #1 team in the nation at a storied program like Gonzaga, we cherish it, but we have to look forward to our next game. There is no single opponent we faced this season that stands out as the one that impressed me the most: we have played a lot of teams who have a chance to go far in the tourney.

Kevin Pangos
Playing for the Canadian national team helped me a lot.  The coaches at training camp taught us a lot, both about how to improve on the court as well as important lessons off the court. Last year I had no idea what to expect in the tourney: people told me it was going to a whole other level above the regular season, which it was. We are more experienced now and we have greater goals this time around.

Elias Harris
Ohio State has some really good players that will challenge anyone. We are not looking ahead…but IF we were to look ahead to the Buckeyes, they would be a tough challenge. Now it is back to business and we know what we have to do in order to be successful.

Coach Mark Few
It has been a great day and quite an honor to be put on the number one-seed line. There were a lot of deserving teams, so we are just happy to be in the conversation. I was ecstatic that [Few’s former assistant] Leon Rice and his Boise State Broncos got into the tourney. We are just getting dialed into what to expect from (2nd round opponent) Southern, and the other half of our staff has to prepare for the winner of our next game (Pitt/Wichita State).

I know Southern likes to play with a low number of possessions and they have a pair of really good guards.

We knew last summer that Kelly was primed for a breakout year. We loved that he was a big kid with a fantastic feel for the game, and we would not have taken him if we did not think he had a lot of potential.

We have played pretty darn consistent this entire year. We all want to be playing our best at this time of year and we have had a good week of practice, so we will be ready. We have been the higher-rated team in every game that we played this year. Mike Hart (who went from an open tryout to conference DPOY) has an unbelievable story that someone should turn into a Hollywood movie someday.

Our 2006 team was a very good team, but had different personalities and did not play as well on defense or have the balance that our current team does. We have shown that we can handle all different styles of play: we ran with teams, faced zone defenses, and have seen excellent guard play, but we have aced every test for the most part.