Martin, McGruder Talk About Loss, Oklahoma

Junior Rodney McGruder had a career-high 30 points against Baylor on Tuesday.

Jan. 12, 2012

Head Coach Frank Martin
On the team’s practice today…
“They were good.  It is a lot more difficult to bounce back from the Baylor loss than it is the KU loss because we were not any good against KU.  We tried against Baylor.  We made mistakes at the end of the game but we tried.  Our guys prepared well, we went out and we tried but we just could not get it done.  When that happens, it is a little tougher to come back from and you add to that the fact that we were off yesterday, so that allows that feeling to linger in their bodies a little longer than it needs to.  But we were good, I was proud of how our guys came out here today.”

On opening with the Big 12’s “best” teams…
“The one thing about this conference that I think is better than any league in the country is how difficult it is from top to bottom.  There is not an easy out or easy building to go play.  So if I answer the question ‘Yes.’, then it is disrespectful or I am lying about my feelings about the league.  All I can do is use experience to answer your question; my first year here, we did not play the so-called ‘big dogs’ early in the year and we were 8-2 and in first-place in league play. Then we had that stretch of games where we were at Nebraska, at Baylor, home against Texas and at KU, and we went 0-4. We went from 8-2 in first place, to 8-6 and in the middle of the pack.  It is 18 hard games.  I understand perception-wise, Baylor is supposed to win the league and they are good, but I do not differentiate between them and Texas Tech or Kansas and Oklahoma.  To me, they are all hard and that is the way that I try to approach it with our team.”

On the play of Rodney McGruder…
“He is playing great and it is very well-deserved.  I thought that he has been playing great all year.  He is trying to evolve as a player and we are trying a way to use him better as a player.  He has worked so hard at improving.  I can tell in practice that he is playing on two healthy legs this year.  I can also tell in practice that he is working so hard improving as a player.  That is why you play a season; we get two weeks before we play our first exhibition game and it is hard to evolve someone’s role in two weeks.  That takes challenges and a full year.  He just keeps getting better and better.  We continue to see the things that he is doing and we can tinker some of the things that we do to help him as to the things that he is doing well.  He is on-the-go right now.  In the first week of December, he was pressing a little bit; trying to find his ways as to the things that we were asking him to do.  I think now, the game has slowed down from him some.”

On Rodney McGruder’s role…
“I do not believe in ‘The Man’ theory.  I like a team.  If I was interested in coaching a very good player, I would be the one-on-one coach over at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.  It is a team game.  The Lakers lost some games earlier in the year and Kobe (Bryant) addressed the media and said ‘This is not acceptable’, then they tried to needle him into talking about the Lamar Odom trade or not getting Chris Paul and he said ‘Our team is good enough to win. Period.’ and that is why he has gone for 48 and 40 in the last two games.  It is a team game and Rodney cannot do it by himself.  He can create the personality, he can be the guy who stands up and creates the demands that the team has to be held up to, but he needs a group of guys to be with him and he knows that.  That is what Rodney has done for us and that is what Jacob (Pullen) did for us and that is Denis (Clemente) did before him.  As good as (Michael) Beasley was his first year, the guy that actually did that for us was Bill Walker.  You have got to have that on every team; a guy that set the standards on how the team needs to play and steps up and is demanding of his teammates.  Rodney continues to improve in that department.  That is something that he was not asked to do but is willing to do.  Now that we have seen him do it, we are helping him to that.  But it has to come from him, it cannot be assigned.”

On comparing Oklahoma from last year to this year…
“Their personnel is kind of the same (as last year).  They have got a young man, (Sam) Grooms, who transferred in from junior college.  He has really gotten better.  He is the one who Lon (Kruger) has assigned the job to and his play has gotten drastically better as a point guard.  Romero Osby is a guy that did not have last year, so they are tougher at the rim now.  Last year, their power forward (Cade Davis) was a man that I loved, he could really shoot the basketball, but he was more of a face-up guy.  Osby is a 6-foot-7, 230-pound athlete that just gives them more toughness at the rim and in the interior.  Last year was such a hard year for Jeff (Capel), I do not know if I could tell you what the difference is.  Lon (Kruger) has come in there with a new flavor, a new direction and their guys have responded to him.”

Guard/Forward Rodney McGruder
On his mid-range game…
“It can be an advantage.  But it works as an advantage for people who work at it.  They try to perfect that part of the game, so they have a variety of options to go to when they have the basketball.  It is something that I try to work on and try to perfect.”

On the mood of today’s practice…
“Practice went well; guys really got after each other.  Frank did not want us to feel down or discouraged because we lost the game (against Baylor).  To know that we had that game and there were things we could have done to win but we let it slip away.  That game is over with so now we have to worry about Oklahoma.”

On his message in today’s practice…
“I just encouraged them.  There are a lot of games left in the season.  If you let that game discourage you, how will you prepare yourself for the following games?  I just tried to encourage them a little bit.”

On his offensive mentality this season…
“I just want to be more aggressive, attack and create a shot for myself.  That is where my game has improved. (Last year) I just settled for the open shot a lot, I was kind of passive and I was not as aggressive as I have been as of late.”