K-State Talks To Media Prior to NCAA Tournament

Junior guard Martavious Irving and the Wildcats practiced at CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday.

March 14, 2012

Photo Gallery | Gametracker vs. (9) Southern Miss

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The Kansas State men's basketball team is set to take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the Round of 64 at the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CST. Head Coaches Frank Martin and Larry Eustachy along with selected players spoke at a press conference Wednesday to discuss the game.

Kansas State Head Coach & Player Quotes
Head Coach Frank Martin
On Southern Miss Coach Larry Eustachy say he sees similarities between K-State and Southern Miss ...
"To have him say that, it's an unbelievable compliment to me and our team. For someone that's as successful as him... I told people the other day, you hear a lot of folks say we're the hardest playing team in America, well, Larry's teams were the hardest playing teams when he was at Iowa State. That's because they were on television all the time. You watch his team play right now, they play just as hard. The only difference is they're not on TV as much as the so-called BCS schools. "

On freshman point guard Angel Rodriguez...
"He's a great kid. He does things that no one on our team understands how to do. When you have somebody that brings a unique skill to the game, whether it's through their mind or their vision, their ability to pass, shoot, create, whatever, he brings that to our team."

On playing Southern Miss...
"I think the experts need to study the tape the way I've studied it. There's nothing easy about playing a Larry Eustachy team. They've got good players, fifth-year seniors, unbelievable skill. They're not going to give you an easy basket. Everything is going to be a grind. There's a reason I don't watch TV or read all that stuff to see what the experts think because I don't think they're right very often. I try to focus in on the opponent and listen to the guys that watch tape with me. We try to formulate our idea. I think we're in for an absolute fight. Larry wouldn't allow the game to go any other way."

On the maturation of Jamar Samuels this season...
"I joked after the Senior Day game against Oklahoma State that it took five years to get him to not commit a foul. He leads our school in fouls in history. Most of those fouls were emotional fouls because he gets frustrated in a moment of the game or somebody bumps him, so he thinks he's got to go bump that person back. Can't do that. This year he's been awesome. I could be be wrong on this stat - I don't really pay attention to stats. One of my assistants said that he had the second most double-doubles in conference play this year. When you're in the Big 12 and your name is in that category, that's pretty good. He's been rock solid as a leder, getting our young guys, as young as our kids are, to understand the sense of urgency that you got to have about everything you do every day. He's been a consistent performer, which is what we've strived for him to become over the last four years. I'm extremely proud of him. "

Junior Guard Rodney McGruder
On he and some teammates being close to their hometowns to play ...
"It's nice to get back on the East Coast. We played against Virginia Tech on the East Coast. Other than that, this is the closest we've been to home. So it's good. A lot of family get to come out and see us play."

On initial thoughts of Southern Miss after watching film...
"They're a tough team. They're kind of like Missouri, kind of undersized. But they play hard. We just have to try to match their intensity."

On playing for Coach Martin...
"It's great playing for him. He prepares you for the real world. He's going to give you his all no matter what it is. Off the court he's a totally different person than he is on the court. On the court he pushes you, tries to get the best out of you. Off the court, he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet."

On similarities between K-State and Southern Miss...
"They attack the glass. They try to get out there on the defensive end. That's the same principles that Frank preaches."

On what he thinks is the team's best win this season...
"I would say on the road at Missouri because we were their only home loss this year. I would say that was our best win."

Senior Forward Jamar Samuels
On his maturation this season ...
"I feel as though I've grown into a grown man, you know what I'm saying? Last year I was probably one of the most immature guys you ever met. To change into the guy I am now, it just shows the focus that I have been going through this entire year."

On he and some teammates being close to their hometowns to play...
"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of folks back at home. It should be an interesting tournament knowing that we're four hours away from home."

On initial thoughts of Southern Miss on film ...
"Probably the best rebounding team - the best rebounding team in Conference USA. That shows a lot. We know what we have to do, and that's pretty much play defense and rebound. It should be a great matchup at the end of the day."

On if there is any added pressure being the only scholarship senior...
"No, it's not any pressure at all. It wasn't any pressure during the year. Victor Ojeleye, I know he's there for me, he has my back. He's been playing well this year, too."

On what it's like to play for Coach Martin...
"You do have to have thick skin to be one of his players. He's just telling you what is real. If you can take that, you should be fine at the end of the day.

On playing against former D.C. Assault teammate Darnell Dodson...
"Darnell is my guy. I've known him since high school. It's pretty cool to match up with him. We haven't been talking for a good past two years. Hopefully, I'll be able to see him before we play."

Southern Miss Coach and Player Quotes
Head Coach Larry Eustachy
On his team overcoming low expectations from outside the program...
"You know, back to the start of the season, there was one magazine that picked us last. We have a lot of respect for Frank and his team and his players. I mean, I thin kthe two teams kind of mirror each other in the way they play: hard and physical, take good shot. I'm sureour practices are similar. I don't know where a lack of respect comes from if there is. But I think within the people that know, there's a lot of respect. And I think they're looking for a really good game that hopefully comes down to the wire. I think it's going to come down to the tougher team's gonna win."

On K-State's personnel...
"My biggest concern is just they way Kansas State is coached and he way they play. I think Frank, I just love watching -- I can just keep watching Kansas State all night becuse I think they play the right way. They play hard. They play physical. They do not take a play off. They take good shots. They try to go get it. When they don't, they get back. I think it's two similarities. What worries me most is the hwole program, is the whole style of play. Like I say, I hope we're as tough as them because I thiink that's what it's going to come down to."

On his relationship with Darnell Dodson...
"He's really gornw in a short period of time because he was not allowed to practice until the beginning of December, or second week in December. He's come leaps and bounds. If he had another year, it would be terrific. It's going to end soon for him. I'm as proud of him as anybody on our team. He's really bought ina dn made amends for his mistakes. I think there's a huge future for him in  life, not just basketball."

Senior Guard Angelo Johnson
On being considered an underdog...
"Nobody gave us a chance all season. It's been like that all season. We're goin gto take one game at a time. We know Kansas State is a good ballclub. We'll go out there and play hard."

On realizing the team had potential to make the tournament...
"I think I found out we were a good team at the Great Alaska Shootout. Me, being a leader of this team, I found out we had a talent level to take it to another level. Playing Murray State, that's when I thought we had a chance to make the tournament."

On his own and teammates' personal struggles and loss this year...
"The university has been there for us. Southern Miss, we're all brothers. We all just got different ages. When something like that happens, everybody, they just gel together and everybody has our backs. Coach has always been there. LaShay (Page) just losing his mother, I was there, because I lost my daughter this summer. Shay, everybody's got a number, but you never know when it's going to be called. I'm just there for them mentally and physically. Everybody helps everybody with this tragedy. It's not easy, but  think it's made us stronger."

Senior Guard Maurice Bolden
On playing for Coach Eustachy...
"He's very determined. He wants the best for us. Like Angelo said, he's been here before during his past times and he understands what it takes to win and get to the next level. So he tries to get us to understand, which is hard for kids now these days to understand, these coaches and what they've been through. Coach, he's a great guy on and off the court. But on the court he's very serious about his job."

On being considered an underdog...
"All through the season, everybody has been downing us, giving us a rought time. I think that made us stronger throughout the year."