Martin, Players Talk About NCAA Tournament Bid

Junior Jordan Henriquez is averaging 15.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in the last four games.

March 11, 2012

Gametracker vs. (9) Southern Miss

NCAA Tournament Central
Presented by Buffalo Wild Wings

Head Coach Frank Martin
On preparing for the NCAA Tournament...
"(Matt) Figger and Brad (Underwood) have got me studying other team's resumes for the last day or so and as I started studying ours compared to some of the teams that are projected to be four or five seeds, I thought that our schedule, records and everything else were almost one-in-the same. The only difference was that our RPI was 10 or 12 numbers lower than theirs. I started seeing the brackets and some of the teams that they put in certain seeds and I thought that maybe we could have gotten a higher number there. But you are fortunate to get in. Playing this week is a privilege and we have been afforded one. Every game is going to be hard and we know that and we are excited."

On Southern Miss...
"When Larry Eustachy coached at BCS schools, his teams were known as the hardest playing teams in the country and that has not changed. Southern Miss may not be on TV as much as other schools but we are getting ready to face a tough team. We have got everything on them already but I have not studied it yet. I suspect that they are going to be a hard-played, hard-rebounding, defensive-minded team. I just looked at their roster a second ago and I know some of the players on this year's team because they have some transfers and guys that have played high-major basketball. They have some junior college guys that we have tried to recruit that I recognize are there."

On K-State's seed...
"I feel really good. The only year that we went into and were kind of an unknown was our first year in because we had been so up and down in how we played because of our youth and some other reasons. The last couple years we have gone into the tournament feeling really good about our team and we feel really about our team right now. That has not changed. We have played our best basketball of the season, during the last month of the season. When you play at this time of the year, that is what you want to see."
 
On making the NCAA Tournament...
"It is awesome. You ask kids to sacrifice and believe in what you are trying to do and be mature enough to handle the difficulties of the season and to not let outside voices hold them down. The only way to be good enough to play this time of the year is if your guys do these things and our guys have obviously done that well enough. I just reminded our team of the first conference game of the season when we went into Kansas; we were dysfunction in our preparations and we went in there and got embarrassed. We fought because that is what we had built for three months, to get back into the game but we had no business winning that game. Then I reminded them of going into Oklahoma and at the time, we had some selfishness in the locker room and I reminded them of those two situations because they are the most difficult moments that this team has encountered during the course of the season. I wanted to make sure that we do not fall into that little hole of negativity again; whether it is by bad preparation or bad thoughts. This team has responded well to adversity during the year. I know that they are excited about playing this week and I am excited as heck to continue coaching this week."

On the team's upcoming schedule...
"We will try to figure out what time to practice tomorrow. We will be here tomorrow and we will practice and travel on Tuesday. You have got all the responsibilities with the media and so forth, on-site on Wednesday. Right now, I do not even know the game time but we will line up and play whenever they tell us to on Thursday."

On having the past two days of downtime...
"I have been at my house with my kids and my sister and her husband and their kids. I have just been enjoying my family. Our players deserve a little two-day break because every once in a while it is good to step away for a couple days, it gets them reenergized to come back in and do their job."

On having ample preparation time...
"One of the reasons that we voted to move the (Big 12) tournament's championship game back to Saturday is because of that. Bill Self was the voice that started that and us coaches pushed to get it changed. Let's say that you played today and you have to travel Tuesday, how much preparation time do you actually have to step away from the season and reorganize yourself? Then go play an opponent that you have never played. Right now, it would be easy for us to go play Baylor or Kansas on a one-day notice because we have been playing each other for the last 18 games. We are getting ready to play an unknown and you have to be able to step away from what you were doing to refocus on what is in front of you. If we still finished our tournament on Sunday at two o'clock, it would be a lot more difficult. I would have liked to play yesterday and I still would have felt good about our preparation for Thursday. Two days away from each other, after being on top of each for six months every day, I think that is not a bad thing."

On having a private Selection Show party...
"I understood it two years ago because we were going into it as one of the top six or seven teams in the country and there was such an uproar about our team. But I think that is a moment for us coaches, players and administrator and our families, I think that is what that moment is for. I am more of a private person when it comes to those kinds of things. I am the one that asked for this and John (Currie) supported it and I was extremely happy. That was a moment for us; the coaches, the players and the families that have sacrificed all year, to let each know how thankful we are for one another, for everything that we have done to help each other to put us in this situation. I kind of enjoyed having a private moment instead a big, party celebration."

On waiting to see K-State's draw...
"I do not know about you but when I saw the first two brackets go up and I did not see our name, I started to get really nervous. I am not going to say that I doubted the fact that we were in the tournament but I felt good last year because we had won seven in a row but then we got beat in the conference tournament. But this year's team's resume is better than last year's team's resume, our RPI  is a little less than last year's resume but this year's team had better wins than last year's team. I kind of felt good that we would be in the tournament. It is never a comfortable feeling unless you know you are in."

On his team's opportunity...
"I am comfortable with the fact that our kids are great and will prepare the right way. I am ecstatic about the opportunity that has been afforded to us. We can just never take it for granted. I have been able to sleep pretty good the last two nights but I probably will not sleep at all this week."

On his outlook heading into the NCAA Tournament...
"Enjoy the moment, untimely enjoy the moment. You have to understand that we are getting to take a ride here that you can be on as long as you do things the right way. Sometimes the ride comes to an end before you want it to, but if you do it the right way, when it is over, you are going to have stories for years and years for everyone that comes into your life. That is why this tournament is the most incredible thing in sports because only few are selected and the stories of the 68 teams, those players and coaches have stories for a lifetime. You cannot win it unless you are in it. If you are in it, you have just as good a chance as the next guy. That rush of adrenaline, you do not get into the tournament unless you believe. You do not get in by mistake. So every team in this thing believes in who they are. Now you have to go out there and instill your will on a team that is trying to do the same thing against you and both teams understand that they will never practices again as a team if they do not fight to win. So that sense of urgency goes up another level and that rush of adrenaline is awesome."

On what the tournament means to the program...
"We are all happy. I hope our fans do not take for granted how hard it is to be in this tournament. I hope they understand that Washington, Seton Hall and Drexel, who won 23 of their 25 last games, none of those guys got in to this tournament. You have to be a special group and fortunate to get invited into this field and I hope that we are all appreciative. The team two years ago has nothing to do with this one. Last year's team has nothing to do with this one. Michael Beasley has nothing to do with this team, but collectively, all together, we have been to this thing four times out of the last five years. Given where the program was 20 or 25 years ago, we should all be extremely appreciative to what is in front of us and the effort of our kids. It is that belief and that fight that makes K-State one of the premier programs in the country right now."

On Syracuse...
"That is Boeheim. How many wins does he have, 999? I think he is about to win his 1,000th game. He is phenomenal. His teams are incredible. He does an incredible, incredible job. They probably would have won it two years ago if his center did not get hurt, but he probably wins the whole thing that year if that kid would have not been hurt. Coach Boeheim has allowed me to get to know him a little bit. I got to know him when I was recruiting Steve Blake. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him."

On having three Kansas schools in the NCAA Tournament...
"Not bad for the little, old state of Kansas. Some other states have a lot more people, some other states probably have some schools that have bigger facilities or whatever else you want to say, but the state of Kansas produces three winners. That is a credit to the kids and the administrations at the schools, that they have all been able to work in unison to represent their schools in the right way. It is an awesome thing. The last time I checked, basketball has always been important in the state of Kansas. It is good to see the schools maintaining that level of excellence."

On spending time with Bob Huggins in Pittsburgh...
"I might do his scout, and he might do mine Tuesday night and then he will coach his team with my thoughts, and I will coach my team with his thoughts. At least our wives will be able to spend some time together, they like each other a lot more than they like us."

Senior Jamar Samuels
On facing Southern Miss...
"Rodney and I actually know a guy that goes there right now (Darnell Dodson), so it is going to be pretty cool to play him. It will be a very exciting game."

On awaiting the team's fate...  
"It is still a nervous feeling, I always tend to shake my leg a lot when Selection Sunday comes on. This season, it feels good just to not worry about anything. Everything is going to work itself out."

Junior Jordan Henriquez
On having the past two days of downtime...
"It has been good, but I would have rather been playing in Kansas City this weekend, been out there competing for a Big 12 championship. These last couple days have been a ride. We are getting ready to face Southern Miss."

On K-State's seed... 
"The seeding does not mean anything to me. I do not know if it does to anybody else. We will just get out there and play our game. Playing in Pittsburg, with some of us being East coast guys, will give us a chance to have a lot of our families at our games."

Junior Rodney McGruder
On playing in the NCAA Tournament...
"I am just happy with the opportunity we have to make the tournament and things like that. I am happy that we are fortunate enough."

On the pressures of playing in the Big Dance...
"We know what can happen if you slip up and lose; it would be the end of our season. We are just trying to put all our effort into practice that is coming up so that we know that we are giving it our all."

On playing Southern Miss...
"It is fun. That makes it a tough game when somebody plays just as hard as you do. You just have to get the 50-50 balls and just make all the right plays when you can."

Freshman Angel Rodriguez
On receiving advice from the upperclassmen...
"So far we have not talked about that. We were focused on the Big 12 tournament. I am sure they will start talking to me today until the day we play."