Martin, Players Talk About Baylor Game

Junior Rodney McGruder is averaging nearly 20 points in the last four games.

Jan. 9, 2012

Head Coach Frank Martin
On defending Baylor…
“They have good balance because they are all good players.  When you play a team with four or five guys who are doing what they are doing and they are all really good players, it makes it frustrating to figure out what to do to beat them.”

On the improvements of Jordan Henriquez…
“As an athlete, he has gotten stronger, he moves better, runs better and he can actually catch the ball, which was an adventure two years ago.  He has really gotten a grasp on the things that we are trying to do on both sides of the floor.  He has always wanted to be a guy who faces up and shoots 17-, 18-, 19-foot shots but he has gotten so much better at playing around the rim.  His challenge is to continue to deal with the physical part of the game; the bumping and the hitting, to be able to sustain the strength, to not get nudged out of the way and defensively, to not get screened and to not get pushed.  With 7-footers (like Jordan), their center of gravity is higher up that 6-foot-8 guys.  So guys like that have always played erect their whole lives, now all of the sudden, powerful guys get into their legs and move them out of there.  For him to impact games, he has to block shots and rebound.  There are guys that make a lot of money (in the NBA) that do that, but to do that, you cannot get pushed out of the way.  You have to hold your ground and hold your area, so you can be there to block shots and be there to rebound.  He continues to get better and we challenge him as hard as anyone on our team and he never runs away from it.”

On building on the program’s recent success…
“You have got guys in the program that understand the importance of winning every day.  We had that a couple years ago and we had a good team.  Last year, we had a lot of newcomers and in the preseason we just never had enough guys committed to that thought and that is where we struggled a little bit.  This team has that.  They appreciate the guys before them and they appreciate how we have grown to become as a program.  But we also have six or seven first-year guys who think that they had something to do with us being in the Elite Eight two years ago. They do not understand that sense of urgency yet.  Every year to me is a grind.”

On Rodney McGruder’s struggles and impact…
“The ball does not go into the basket.  People actually practice, the one’s that wear the other uniform, and they into the game and they say ‘We cannot let McGruder catch it in this area and when he does catch it, we cannot let him do this’.  They do things that take him away and that is where having balance helps your team.  To take one player away, you have to do it with more than one guy and when you do that, you open up other areas of the floor and you have to have guys that make the plays and you have to be really prepared as a team to take advantage of those things.”

Junior Jordan Henriquez
On facing the Big 12’s top competition…
“Every day is challenge.  That game (Missouri) is out of the way now so now we are preparing for Baylor.  Knowing that another top-10 team is coming into our gym, we want to protect our home-court advantage.”

On his improvements this year…
“It all starts with me being consistent.  Those practices before the Missouri game, my effort was there.  With myself coming back into the starting lineup, it motivated me a lot more.  I like coming off the bench because I like to be that spark if our guys are down or if our guys are up, I like to keep that same amount of energy.  There is no difference between being a starter and coming off the bench.”

Guard/Forward Rodney McGruder
On being a leader of this year’s team…
“It is something that I had to work on. It was a part of my game that I knew that I had to improve, so I could incorporate that into my game; being a leader and taking control.  It was just something that I had to work on over the summer.”

On his offensive mentality…
“My teammates put me in the position to score but at times, I believe that you have to create for yourself because not everything is going to be handed to you.”