Martin, Wildcats Discuss Upcoming Season

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State men's basketball coach Frank Martin and the Wildcats discussed the upcoming season, as the program hosted their annual Media Day on Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum. 

Below are comments from head coach Frank Martin and selected Wildcat players.


Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening statement...

“We’ve been through 10 practices now. One thing that’s obvious is that we’re extremely young. When you have so many first-year players that have never stepped on a court and had to compete against a Big 12 team it’s not their fault. That’s why relying on freshmen is always such a tough task to compete at a high level like the Big 12. Now with that said I’m also very excited about the progress we’ve made. I’m excited about the players we’ve got, their enthusiasm, their fearlessness, and their desire to continue to grow. Those are things that as a basketball coach you get excited about. It gives you the ability to wake up everyday knowing that your guys are doing everything in their power to continue to improve and that’s all you can ever ask from a team.

 

I’m pleased where we’re at given the fact that we’re 10 practices into the season with five true freshmen and one red-shirt freshman who is Bill Walker. Bill only had 10 practices under his belt last year, so in my opinion he is a freshman also. Even though he’s been labeled a freshman, he should be a freshman. Then you take a young man in Andre Gilbert who is also a first-year guy. He’s coming off a shoulder injury, which last year prevented his playing time. I could be wrong, but I think he played 10 games last year for his junior college team and then he spent the whole spring in a should harness so he had no mobility what-so-ever in his right arm up until July just before he arrived here. Therefore, he’s got some growing that he’s doing also. I’m pleased with our guys. I couldn’t be happier. They’re trying, they’re practicing hard, they’re committed, they’re enthusiastic, and as a basketball coach that’s what you look for.”

 

On any surprise players in practice so far...

“I think as a whole, they’ve been phenomenal. When you go into practice and you’ve got so many first-year players, you don’t know what to expect. You go in and you watch them practice at the high school level and play at the high school level and you understand when you’re watching them that they’re talented and have the desire. But you also understand that in order to succeed in the Big 12, they have to compete at a different level. You don’t know what you’re going to get until they actually get on the court and start competing, and as a whole, they’ve been great.”

 

On Bill Walker’s potential and improvement...

“He’s got tremendous room to grow. The biggest adjustment from high school to college is the ability to defend. Their offensive skills continue to improve but the biggest adjustment is you have to defend. Bill’s continuing to improve in that department. Bill, in high school, always defended big guys. Last year, he started defending perimeter guys and hurt his knee so he didn’t have all spring like everyone else did to work on his individual instruction to improve on that, that’s ok. He’s made tremendous strides. Ten practices to me, is not experience, and that’s what he had last year. He’s night and day in practice right now to what you guys saw on the court last year, night and day. Bill, as everyone will see, is an elite player. Bill has an incredible drive to succeed, he is a very proud young man and he’s got a drive that makes him continue to get better. From what you guys and the people of K-State saw last year to what I see in practice today, it’s the Bill we knew we recruited when he signed up to go to school here.”

 

On the readiness of the freshmen...

“They’re great. I’m telling you, I have not left a practice yet thinking that one of our freshmen is not going to help us. My concern, which I echo to the players and if I had not echoed it to them I would not be telling everyone else in the public, is that defensively we’ve got to get better. If you look across the country, the teams at the BCS-level schools that struggle early when they play a lot of freshman, it’s because they have a tough time defending. It’s common sense. Eighteen-year-old kids that are that talented don’t have to defend very hard to prevent a high school player from scoring on them. When you get to college you have to go guard Brandon Rush, you have to go guard Martin Zeno, now there’s not a play off. You’ve got to be ready to guard every single possession. That’s the biggest adjustment for a freshman to make.”

 

On the style of defense he wants to play...

“We’re going to be aggressive. I tell players all the time, 20 years from now when they decide to carry me out of here, they’re going to say in Frank Martin’s time, this is how they played. It’s all about pressure. It’s about being the aggressor defensively and offensively.”

 

On Clent Stewart’s leadership with the team...

“(He’s been) huge. You’re talking about a man that understands. He has had the toughest job on the team as a point guard, and he started for three years in the Big 12. He had success under Coach Wooldridge, he had success with us last year. Clent is a stand-up young man and if not for him, then our freshmen guards would really, really struggle to grow up. He makes that transition a little easier for them.”

 

On any definite starters being identified yet...

“None. There’s no such thing. Definite starters are guys that work every day, guys that understand that. Our guys are working every day. Now, we’re still three weeks away from playing a game that counts, that goes down on our schedule for win-loss, that the NCAA is going to look at to make the decision whether we belong or don’t belong in the NCAA tournament, which is where we want to be in March. We’re still trying to get guys to learn how to play how way we want them to play, learn how to play with one another. I’m not so concerned with rotations. I don’t think we’ve had a practice yet where we’ve put five guys together and I’ve said in my mind, these are the starting five. I don’t think we’ve done that for a single possession in a practice.”

 

On how many players he would like in the rotation...

“I guess I’d have to quote Coach Huggins on that one and that all depends on how they choose to play. The way I want to play I can tell you that it would be hard to play that way with six or seven guys. My last year as a high school basketball coach we had 11 guys that averaged double-digit minutes per game in a 32 minute game. I think as a basketball coach you establish depth. We go out and recruit these young men and it’s up to us to use their strengths to help the basketball team. I like playing more guys, it creates depth, it creates competition, it creates enthusiasm. I think it’s a better way of playing.”

 

On David Hoskins and his expectations for him...

“I’ll be very disappointed if Dave is not a major minutes guy for this basketball team this year, just like Clent Stewart. If for some reason those two guys aren’t right in the middle of that rotation and are not mainstays in that rotation, I’ll be very disappointed. With that said, they’ve got to go out and earn their jobs. They go out and have a bad day, we’re deep this year, we’ve got more talent this year, there’s a young hungry kid who’s ready to take those minutes. That’s just like life. The day you decide not to do your job, that next guy is going to come in and do the job and that might be the last day you get to do that job.

 

(When I look at Dave) I think of K-State basketball. I see a young man that, from our first day on campus, committed himself to that weight room, committed himself to what we were selling. He bought, never asked why. Basically, last year, he pretty much was the face of what we were doing. Cartier (Martin) obviously had a heck of a year and came on strong the last month of the season and was a great player here for four years, but Dave was the first guy that got in line and bought what we were selling.”  

 

On Blake Young’s role this season...

“We’ve moved Blake off the ball, which is what he naturally is. He’s always been a scorer. Last year because of need, we force fed him into a point guard position. Blake had a significant injury to a knee last year, got scoped and was back on the court four days after surgery. It took him a while before he got his explosiveness, before he got that leg back under him. Even at the end of the year, he still wasn’t 100 percent because he never gave that a chance to heal properly. Now he’s healed, now he’s strong. Blake’s had a heck of a pre-season so far and I only expect it to continue.”

 

On whether the talent level can overcome the lack of experience...

“That’s what the season will show us. We feel we’re more athletic, we feel we’re deeper, we feel we’re better from a talent standpoint on paper. When I watch us practice our ability to score the basketball is obviously easier for us to do than it was last year. Last year’s team had some upperclassmen that really, really committed to one another, committed to playing together, and that’s why they had the ability to lead us to success the way they did. These guys here are showing that ability but we’ve never thrown up a jump ball yet. That’s why you line-up and play 31 games to show us how fast that youth is willing to mature into Big 12 players.”


Senior Guard Blake Young

 

On the differences from last season to this season...

“Coach Martin is a great coach. He knows what he’s doing. We experienced that last year. All the players that were here last year know that he already knows what he is doing. He was running a lot of practices last year. The only thing different we are going to do this year is we are going to run a lot more. We’re going to be up and down the floor a lot more. There is going to be a lot of pressure from us.”

 

On having Frank Martin as a head coach...

“I always listened to Frank (Martin) even when he was an assistant, so now that he is the head coach it is even better because he already knows what he is talking about. I felt like he was more like a head coach last year with the things that he was doing because Coach Huggins gave him the opportunity to actually coach us.”

 

On recovering from his injury problems last season...

“I’m healthy this year more than I was last year. Last year I was dealing with knee problems. This year my knee is feeling good. My jump-shot is starting to look good I’m starting to get lift on my jump-shot. I’m getting more explosive. I’m just in better shape than I was last year.”

 

Junior Forward Darren Kent

 

On the team’s chance to improve this year...

“We’re kind of on the map now a little bit. We definitely still have room for improving. We didn’t get into the tournament last year. The players that we have this year definitely give us the potential to get where we need to go.”

 

On the leadership of David Hoskins...

“He’s such a good leader, vocally and the way he plays. He’s just so strong on the court. When you see the way he hustles and you see the way he plays, it makes you want to be the type of player that he is. If we have more players start to play the way he does, it is going to be better for everyone.”

 

On which aspect of David Hoskins’ game has improved since last season...

“His shooting. In the off-season he really worked hard on his 3-pointers. I think he is really going to be able to show is range this year. Everyone knows he can do it and he’s really worked hard on it. So, it should be fun to see.”

 

Senior Forward David Hoskins

 

On his senior year at Kansas State...

“Where I’m at right now as a senior with Frank Martin as my head coach, I couldn’t be more happy. It’s been a change, but I feel like it’s been a change for the better. We have a lot of good athletes. Coach Martin put in a new plan for us on the offensive end. I think it is going in the right direction.”

  

On his personal mentors...

“I have a good family background so most of my mentoring comes from my parents. I feel like Coach Martin is a loyal guy who is always there if you need to talk. I think that is the biggest part of this team’s success because you can depend on him.”

 

On being a role-model for the younger players...

“Whenever I’m out there, I try to be a coach on the floor. If they have any questions or any problems I feel like I can relate to them. I’ve been through a lot of stuff here at Kansas State. I’ve had good seasons, bad seasons, different coaches and different coaching styles, so I feel like I can relate to them in any questions that they have and help them out.”

 

On going through some diverse seasons as a Wildcat...

“It makes you a better person and it makes you a better player. Every team that is successful faces diversity. I feel like as a leader on the team who has been through a little bit of diversity, I can pass that on to the younger guys and we can be successful.”

 

On living his dream...

“This is what you dream about when you’re a little kid. You want to be a leader on a team that has a chance of being successful. I have that opportunity and I’m just thankful.”

 

On how the team will start the season...

“I expect us to get better with each practice and each game. I don’t expect a slow start because we have the talent to pull us through tough situations. As the season progresses we’re definitely going to get better.”

 

Senior Guard James Franklin

 

On practice thus far...

“Everyday is competitive. Everyday we are looking to really improve on what we did the day before. We are just really looking toward being prepared for the first game.”

 

On Frank Martin’s coaching style...

“He’s really aggressive, really in your face. But, I kind of like that because once you’re out there playing you kind of want someone to be tough on you. He still motivates you and he’s still positive, but at the same time you have to work with the negative to get to the positive. Everyday he is on you, but it’s for good reason.”

 

On Frank Martin’s pathway to becoming a head coach...

“Knowing his struggle and what he overcame to be here makes us want to appreciate where we’re at even more and really stand behind him because he worked so hard to get where he’s at. Now that he is successful it is going to run off and trickle down to us.”