THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH RICHMAN: Well, obviously let's give a ton of credit where credit is due. That is an absolutely outstanding team. Extremely well coached. Tremendous balance. They took a really good punch from us and still got us. I think that's a team that's got a chance to make a legit run here and go deep into this thing, especially when they have got all parts working together like they do normally. For us, for me as a first year head coach, I couldn't be prouder to sit up here with these three guys and 11 other guys in the locker room. This group absolutely epitomizes what myself as a head coach and this culture will be about -- selfless, hungry individuals that care way more about the team than they do themselves. And just a resilient group. We got our backs against the wall all year. We have made no excuses and put ourselves in a position where we're cut it to six at one time, had a chance to beat an excellent team. But, again, I couldn't be more proud to be the coach of these guys and the coach at North Dakota State right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Dexter, you showed no fear. Those guys are bigger. Your mindsets especially in the second half there?
DEXTER WERNER: I just have to give all the credit to Lawrence and all my other teammates, because basically obviously it's pretty easy to tell that they game planned for all our shooters who have been having great seasons, and that's the only reason I was getting the looks I was because they were hugging guys like Lawrence and A.J. on the wing. So that gave me open lanes to get to the rim. I just took the looks that came, but I definitely wouldn't have gotten those looks without the year that L.A. and A.J. have had.
Q. Talk about the second half and the rally there and what keyed it.
PAUL MILLER: I think we just came out a lot more aggressive. In the first half they kind of beat us, they played a little bit tougher than we did, beat us on the boards, and we decided at halftime that we just weren't going to go down like that. We wanted to come out swinging in the second half.
Q. Lawrence, how difficult was it to deal with Gary Bell and just the defensive pressure that he had today?
LAWRENCE ALEXANDER: He's probably one of the top defenders in the nation. If you ask him, he could probably tell you what I had for breakfast this morning. But give all credit to him. I kind of took the looks that I had. They were tough. But he's probably one of the top defenders in the nation.
Q. Dexter, what was it like in the second half for you? I noticed you gesturing to the crowd. You were really amped it seemed like as your run went on.
DEXTER WERNER: Honestly it was just a little blurry, really. I told Coach that's how we practice it. I trip on a guy's foot and fade away and bank it in. You know, sometimes you got to keep it going. I took some looks I probably wouldn't regularly take, but I was hitting, so -- but like I said, I wouldn't have gotten those looks without all the pressure they were putting on our wings, so I just had to take it as it came.
Q. Is this what Dexter can do, a performance like this, or was it just he was getting the right looks tonight?
COACH RICHMAN: No, Dexter's a unique matchup. He's got good length. The wingspan surprises some people. He's really strong. Obviously what he was able to do tonight is go off the bounce. That's different for a lot of 5's guarding him.
Q. Paul and Lawrence, what, if any, positive emotions do you guys get out of this, given a team like Gonzaga, your best shot and having them there on the ropes really in the second half?
PAUL MILLER: I think we just going forward, especially for us younger guys -- no one expected us to be here. We were picked as the to be the fifth seed in our own conference. I think that for me just the experience of playing in this game will really help us going forward. Then the fact that we were able to compete with, like Coach Richman said, a team that's got a chance to make a really good run here, that's pretty positive.
Q. Dexter and Paul, can you guys talk about what Lawrence means to this program and means to your team with all he's done this year for you guys.
DEXTER WERNER: It's really something that you can't even put into words. Coach talked about it after the game in the locker room, but when he came to North Dakota State, the level was raised here, the bar was raised, and it really took the whole school into a new program. I think five years ago there's no way that anybody would have thought that this school would be in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and three tournaments over our first seven years. And that started with him coming in, and there's so much behind the scenes that you don't see that he does for this program. And it's really he's -- we're all indebted to him and we can't pay him back for all the hard work he's put in for this school.
PAUL MILLER: For me especially, I room with him on every single road trip, and since the day I stepped on campus in June, he's been a guy that I've looked up to. He's been a role model for me. And I know over the next three years how I have to play day in, day out, every practice, open gym. The guy goes 110 percent all the time. And I just really look up to him.
Q. Dexter, you probably heard this question before, but how did you end up on a basketball court and not a football field?
DEXTER WERNER: I really don't know. It is my favorite sport. I started playing a lot earlier than did I football. I don't know, I just enjoy it a little more. I like running around. But I miss football. But I definitely wouldn't trade it in for playing with these guys.
Q. Dexter, it was entertaining. Who did you grow up like trying to pattern your game after?
DEXTER WERNER: I don't really know. I liked watching Blake Griffin play just because he just kind of -- his driving, he plays really hard. But, honestly, I just don't know. There's not a whole lot of undersized guys that I look up to. But I don't know. I don't really know. I'm sorry.
Q. What made Wiltjer such a tough matchup?
COACH RICHMAN: Size, skill, parts surrounding him, you name it. We started 6-6 on him in the first possession, they roll in the block and back A.J. down and get a foul on him. He can shoot it in transition. What makes him a tough guard is he's so versatile.
Q. Pangos is fairly quiet most of the game and then right when it mattered most he nailed the three and then the foul by Dexter. Expand on that a little bit, too.
COACH RICHMAN: I really thought that was the key. To me, he's the engine that makes them go. He just lays in the weeds, takes care of the ball, makes the right pass, and then when he needs to make a big shot, he makes a big shot. He's the ultimate team guy. He's a winner.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports