Martin, Players Discuss Upcoming Trip to Baylor

Freshman Angel Rodriguez has started each of the last nine games.

Feb. 16, 2012

Head Coach Frank Martin
On facing a tough conference schedule...
"It is not fun. But you are encouraged when a young man continues to show fight and shows up the next day eager to get better. You will be with those guys at the end. When you think about Jacob (Pullen) and his freshman and sophomore years, we went to Oregon and he went 2-for-17 with eight turnovers; there were bumps there. We all remember the final product of Jacob but there were a lot of bumps early. But the reason that I never quit on him was because he never quit on himself. That is what you look for as a coach. I do not care how many mistakes they make when they are young. When we had Denis (Clemente), the first year that he played, he was a fourth-year junior so he was a little bit older and had already been through the ropes. But if you look back at his freshman year at Miami, he had his ups and downs. In this league, you go one night facing Keiton Page, the next night, Tyshawn (Taylor), then the young man at Texas (Myck Kabongo) is faster than any guard in this league since Denis Clemente, in my opinion and you can keep going on down the line. We played A&M without Dash (Harris) and that is another senior point guard. Iowa State does not have a true point guard but all their guards are fifth-year seniors. There is no forgiveness in this league and it makes you grow up."

On freshman point guard Angel Rodriguez...
"He is a tough little kid. Angel is not going away. Like all freshmen, he has had some moments where he has had some mental lapses, has gotten frustrated and has not handled things, but that is between him and I. But there is no quit in him; that is who he is. He did not come out here to quit after a bad day or a bad game. He is going to keep fighting. Having him and Will (Spradling) at the guards is giving us two guys that have the ability to be high assist guys. Martavious (Irving) is more of a slasher, an attack kind of guy; that is why I like to have him coming off the bench. Every night, this league is unforgiving but that is kind of what we have to do, is to have those two guys (Rodriguez and Sprandling) at guards right now."

On his team's shooting woes against KU...
"That circular, orange thing, finding that piece of twine that hangs at the rim; that is the one thing that is missing. We have go to eliminate some of our turnovers, which we have but still, we had 11 (against KU), six of those were miserable that lead to 2-on-1 layups for Kansas. You cannot have that. We held Kansas to their season-low for points. We kept Tyshawn out of the paint for most of the game. I do not want to say that we neutralized Thomas Robinson, but I thought that we did a pretty good job on him. We stayed with Elijah (Johnson). The first time that we played them, (Travis) Releford had a double-double and we did our job on him. Obviously, (Jeff) Withey hurt us. Their starting five is really good, not just good but really good and we wanted to make sure that we kept the pace and the tempo and we did that. That gave us a chance but we when we took shots, that thing did not go into the basket. It is hard to beat anybody if the ball does not go into the basket. It is impossible to beat a top-5 team if you do not make shots. If you think back to the two years that we beat them here, we had guys that scored. Jacob had 38 last year. His freshman year, he had 20, Mike (Beasley) and Bill (Walker) had 19. You have to make shots. Unfortunately, we did not make enough of them the other night."

On the number of Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament...
"I was asked that question when we were in fourth place, and I said that if this league does not get six teams in, it is a crying shame. I do not waiver on that. I am not saying six (teams) now because we are in sixth place. Two weeks ago when we were in fourth place, I said six teams because that was my opinion and that has not changed."

On forward Rodney McGruder...
"He was doing great and then he hurt his foot and he could not practice. Now, he is back to practicing full-time again. Today was the best day that he has had since before the Texas A&M game. I hope it carries over to the Baylor game. As a player, you can lead all you want but you have to do your part too and he was struggling with himself and his game, so it was hard for him to lead others because he is trying to find himself. He was trying to do something that he has never done, which is play without practicing. He is one of those kids who is wired for repetition; to go out and compete and he gains who he is from that daily regimen of shooting balls and working and he could not do that for almost a two-week period. He is back doing that again and as soon as he starts feeling comfortable again, which I saw today, he will start trying to lead the others. But he has been awesome. He has been great this year and I do not mean playing, I mean from a leadership standpoint."

Freshman Guard Angel Rodriguez
On his struggles against KU...
"That game was the worst game of my life and I do not mean my college career but my whole, entire life. It was tough to deal with that. Mentally, I got into the film room and watched it over and over, just so I will not make the same mistakes again. To be honest, when I think about the KU game, all I think about is negative stuff and trying to make it into a positive. I did not get any positive things out of that game, so I am just trying to take all the negatives and turn them into positives for the next couple games we have left."

On bouncing back from the KU loss...
"It is tough to play against a guard like Tyshawn Taylor, who is clearly one of the best guards in the country. It was something that I was aware of. I knew that I was going to face good guards in the league but then again, I do have a lot of confidence in my game. It happened to be the worst game of my life but my confidence is still up. I told myself that I would make up for this."

Junior Forward Rodney McGruder
On staying confident for the remainder of the year...
"You have to be confident because when you lose confidence, what are you playing for? If you have lost confidence to go to the NCAA Tournament, then why would we be going to Baylor this weekend. You still have to have confidence within yourself because if you do not, the rest of this season does not even matter."

On K-State's current mentality...
"I do believe that we are in a tough spot but there are games left, so we have the opportunity to showcase what we are capable of."

On senior Jamar Samuels...
"I do believe that he is feeling that sense of urgency. He knows that he only has a couple more games left so he is really trying to step up and do everything that he can to help us to victory."