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K-State Talks to Media Prior to NCAA Tournament

Michael Orris

Michael Orris

March 21, 2013

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The K-State men's basketball team is set to take on the La Salle Explorers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday from the Sprint Center at 2:10 p.m. Before tip on Friday, the Wildcats and other teams competing in Kansas City held open practices and spoke with members of the media.

Kansas State Head Coach & Player Quotes

Head Coach Bruce Weber
Opening statement…
“Obviously you're excited to be in the tournament and then to have a great opportunity to play in the Sprint Center again.  Playing in Kansas City, over the last couple weeks, it was one of the carrots we hung out there for the guys, one of our goals.  We were able to accomplish that. But it doesn't guarantee you a victory.  You'll have a few extra fans.  We have some familiarity with the arena and played in here obviously last weekend three times, then against Florida. But once the game goes, the jump ball starts, you got to play basketball and you're going to have to earn a victory against a very, very good LaSalle team.  We had a chance to watch last night as a team.  Great guard play.  Very, very aggressive.  Seemed to play with a lot of confidence.  Obviously, the A 10 got a lot of respect from the Selection Committee with their seeding and number of teams in. We know we have a tough foe and we're going to have to play exceptionally well to get a victory tomorrow.

On defending La Salle’s offense…
“It's a lot like when we play Iowa State.  You got to worry about the three, but you really have to worry about layups.  First time we faced Iowa State, we gave up too many layups.  They're going to make a couple threes.  We have to limit the number of layups they get, then stay in front.  That's the biggest. The dribble containment, making sure we're ready to help, but get back to shooters.  Then one and done.  If you give them extra opportunities, you're going to be in trouble because they have too many weapons.  You have four guys in double figures and they all can go off on any given night.”

On D.J. Johnson’s play recently…
“He had a big game in the tournament.  He started out real well.  In non-conference we were able to overwhelm some people.  He's an unbelievable athlete.  He's got a great upside, mainly because in high school he played football. Every year, four, five months, he didn't do anything with basketball.  Now it's 12 months basketball.  He wants to do well.  He stays in the gym.  There isn't a better kid.  And he loves K-State.  He has embraced it.  He's a big deal in the dorms in a good way. People like him. I've been to Great Bend, other places, where their kids are in the same dorm with him. People come up to me and say they just love D.J. Their kids do, they've been around him. He's got a lot of upside.  He went from 240 to 255, 258.  He's a stud physically.  Now we just have to get him to where his skills are better.”

On using Jordan Henriquez against La Salle…
“They do have the one big guy.  He'll stay inside.  That's a positive.  It's not like when we played Iowa State where their 5 guy was shooting threes.  It made it a little tougher for him.  He'll set screens, dive, post up, tries to score.  He's a strong guy, power kind of guy.  We should be able to use him. Then the other part, I talked just before about how we guarded.  We hope he can be a backstop to our defense.  They're going to get by us.  They're so good with the dribble, so good one on one.  Now if Jordan can be a backstop to the defense and block a few shots, now they got second thoughts about coming in there. We talked about from Oklahoma State, the first one at our place, where he blocked some shots.  Second time we played them, he wasn't there.  Third time he was there.  He makes a difference.  Thomas Gipson can take a charge, be physical, do some of those things.  But Jordan, when you have a nice backstop, it's just like us going against Withey, it makes a big, big difference.”

On his team’s passing, specifically the pass before the pass or “hockey assist”…
“It's an important part of our offense.  I haven't charted it.  I don't think the NCAA would go with that as a stat they can get concerned about.  But it's important.  There's no doubt to have that unselfishness to make that next pass that leads to the bucket. You could have shot the shot.  You have an open shot, but he has the more open shot.  That's the difference when you have that kind of unselfishness. We have a term that goes back to Coach Keady.  He talks about sharing the juices.  It's having a good locker room, making sure everybody gets the sandwich, gets the Gatorade, whatever.  But it's also on the court, you share the basketball, make sure everyone does their part. They laugh about it, tease me about it, but they've bought into that concept, so I think it's important.”

Senior Guard Rodney McGruder
On how the team passes so well…
“Guys just do a tremendous job of moving without the ball. That allows them to get open looks from one another. Guys do a great job of screening, which allows, Will (Spradling) might come to the screen for me, guys might help on my curl, Will can step back and shoot. That's great a assist right there. As well as, when some guys curl into the lane, some big guys help up and we can dish it down.”

On his initial thoughts on La Salle…
“They have four guards that do a tremendous job of spreading you out and dribble drive.  If you go big, it's hard to guard because their 4 man is really a 2 guard.  If you go with two big guys, it's hard for that 4 man to actually get out and guard on the wing. They just dribble drive, try to get whatever they want.  They try to catch you slipping almost.  They penetrate the guy, flip back for threes and things like that.”

On playing in the Sprint Center…
“It gives us an advantage being that we just played here last weekend.  It's kind of home-court advantage for us.  A lot of our fans are from this area, so they get to come out and support us.  We have a little bit of a fan base. I'm not sure if LaSalle will have a fan base, but I know we will have a larger fan base than them.”

On being just the second senior class in school history to go to four NCAA Tournaments…
“It's very special. It speaks a lot about Jordan, Martavious, myself, how we try to be consistent, being that we've been here for four years. We just try to give it our all every night that we go out and play and practice, in drills, whatever we try to do, so we can prepare ourselves for times like this. It's not all about just getting here; it's about just going out and playing as hard as you could, because La Salle's going to bring it. Whoever we play is going to bring it.  We just have to be prepared and stay focused.”

Senior Forward Jordan Henriquez
On his confidence after last year’s NCAA Tournament…
“Just based off the NCAA tournament before my confidence coming in is just high, just knowing what kind of seed we have, the kind of advantage we have. As a whole, we have to take advantage of it.”

On if the team watched the Boise State-La Salle game Wednesday night…
“We did gather around and watch the game.  Coach made sure that we did that.  We were going to watch the game whether we got together or not.  That's just the type of players we are. But, we did a really good job, our coaches did a really good job, of preparing us for both teams, what kind of sets they run and everything like that.  Just be prepared for everything.  That's what we really did a good job at.”

On being just the second senior class in school history to go to four NCAA Tournaments…
“Just being here is a blessing.  No matter how many times me, Rodney, Martavious have been here, we really worked hard to get here.  It starts in the spring and summer workouts where guys get together or freshmen come in, they don't really know until it gets real. Angel did a really good job at that last year coming in as a freshman, not really knowing the system or anything like that.  That goes on for anyone. I still remember when I was a freshman just coming in, really not knowing what's going on.  Being on the big stage, being in front of our crowd, I think we were a 2 seed my freshman year.  I still remember it. But I have memories from every NCAA tournament.  I truly want to make this one memorable.”

Sophomore Guard Angel Rodriguez
On the key to the team passing well….
“We got great pieces. Everybody has tremendous trust in each other and we feel comfortable about playing with each other and giving the ball to each other, let each other make a play. As long as we share the ball, every time we share the ball, we have some success, everybody's happy.  That's the most important thing. So why not keep doing it?”

On the team’s success and avoiding let-downs…
“I feel like this year the team overall has done a tremendous job of just trying to focus on the next game and being 1 0, like Coach (Bill) Snyder told us. As long as we do that, we focus on the next game, the chance of us winning is going to be higher.  As you could see, we were pretty consistent and didn't have any bad losses at all. But, you know, there's another level.  Be playing against the best of the best in this tournament. Definitely got to be more focused but continue to do what you have done the whole season to have some success.”

Junior Guard/Forward Shane Southwell
On improving his shot this season ….
“This summer I just took a lot of shots.  I was on the gun a lot.  All the coaches helped me a lot with just trying to get the ball up in the air.  I did a lot of form shooting with the weighted ball.  It helped my shot a lot. I still to this day try to get a lot of shots with the weighted ball.  I've been off a little bit, but I'm just trying to get it back.”

On how the team has avoided any “bad losses”…
“I feel that because we got so many guys, any one of us here can step up.  We also got two other guys that's not here that come off the bench in Martavious and Thomas.  When you have seven guys that can, any given day, lead us in scoring, usually Rodney and Angel does it, but when you have guys that can give you 12, 14 points, it's big. We're not dependent on one player on this team.”

Junior Guard Will Spradling
On K-State’s offense this season…
“The offense has done a great job of putting each player where he's comfortable and then getting them in places where they can make plays. So, we're real comfortable with the offense now. It's late in the year.  We've been doing it for a year now and obviously it's been working for us. With the way (La Salle) guards, with them gambling, I mean, we just have to make them pay when they gamble like that, be solid with the ball, which we've done a great job of all year.”

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