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Martin, Players Discuss Upcoming Game with Alabama


GO WILDCATS
Freshmen Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson met with the area media for the first time on Thursday.

GO WILDCATS
Freshmen Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson met with the area media for the first time on Thursday.
GO WILDCATS

Dec. 15, 2011

Head Coach Frank Martin
On freshman needing to ‘go hard’ on all possessions…
“It is the hardest thing for all the freshman.  Not just this year, but every year.  When Jacob (Pullen) was a freshman, he drove me nuts.  I remember him playing against Kansas, his tail off, and then showed up the next day to practice thinking that he did not have to practice; having two consecutive awful practices, and me not being able to play him at Missouri because he was so bad.  That is what all freshmen go through; that is part of the process.  I constantly tell guys in the locker room, ‘if I still have to scream at you when you are a junior, then this is probably the wrong place for you.’  It means you are not improving.  You are making the same mistakes and we are going nowhere.”

On if he his hard on his guards…
“I am hard on anybody, who does not do their job.  They do their job, I leave them alone.  That is the way I want people to treat me.  If I do not do my job, ring me out—do whatever you have to do.  You will never hear me complain.  If I do my job, leave me alone.  That is why trust is such an important word to me.“

On similarities between Denis Clemente and Angel Rodriguez…
“Different.  They are different.  They look alike, but it stops there.  Denis was more of an open court, speed player.  Angel is more of a crafty, understands angles; relies more on his jump shot than Denis.  Even though Denis shot the jump shot, that was not how he learned to play.  Denis’ game was of that dribble and go.  He would shoot that floater and he worked real hard to become a better shooter.  Angel instinctively relies on the jump shot more than Denis, but he will come around.”

On things he likes in Thomas Gipson’s practice…
“Watching guys bounce off of him.  Contact not fazing him.  You see some guys, there is contact—they fold up like an accordion right away.  That is an alarming sight to me.  You cannot determine that until you start coaching them every day.  There are guys that as soon as there is contact, there is an excuse. They fall down; they shoot it over the backboard—whatever.  With him, it does not faze him.  I do not care how hard you hit him, when those mitts touch that ball, it is secure.  When he catches that ball near the rim, he is strong enough to keep the angle that he created to get a shot. Those are things that we saw, and about after a week or so, I kind of started accepting the fact that if he stays humble and hungry, and maintains the focus and discipline that he has, he has a chance to be real good.  Knock on wood, up to this point; he has played up to it.”

On if no Christmas break will affect the players…
“That is why we did that (giving them five days off) at Thanksgiving.  It might have hurt our progress as a team; you guys were asking me earlier about Angel and I think that time off hurt his growth.  However, most of our guys are not from around here and I am about family.  It would not be right for me to keep them here through the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  They deserve the right to go home and see their people.  We will take advantage starting tomorrow—school is out.  The one thing that we have done consistently the last three years is, we have become a better team over Christmas break. We do everything in our power to take advantage of these days.”

Junior Guard Rodney McGruder
On Thomas Gipson’s string of double-doubles…
“It has meant a lot.  He is letting us know that we have a presence down low that is working hard and doing good things.”

On Alabama’s team…
“They are an athletic team and they try to get after you offensively and defensively.  They have Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green, who are good players.  They have a presence down low as well so it will be a tough match-up.”

On how Angel Rodriquez and Denis Clemente compare to one another…
“They are pretty much similar, but Denis was a lot faster.  Angel has a couple years to grow.  Denis was a senior (a fifth-year senior) when I played with him so he had a higher (basketball) IQ.”

Freshman Forward Thomas Gipson
On whether he was surprised about his success this season…
“Not really because I work hard in practice every day and I do what Frank (Martin) and Brad (Underwood) tell me to do and I compete.  That is what I need to do in this program to be successful.”

On whether he was surprised by his 3 double doubles…
“During the game, I just get out there and play.  I do not worry about points or how many rebounds I grab.  Brad (Underwood) stresses rebounding to me a lot  and so I do what I need to do.  At the end of the past games they tell me I had a double-double and I do not even realize it.”

On the impact that weightlifting has had on his size…
“I say it’s half and half (between weightlifting and genetics).  I really did not lift weights a lot back in high school.  I give it to Scott Greenawalt, who has put a lot of work into me.  I work hard every day and he pushes me hard every day too.  Gene-wise my dad is pretty big so I get it from him, too.”

Freshman Guard Angel Rodriguez
On this his preseason expectations…
“I was expecting to come off of the bench, bring a lot of energy and just do whatever I can to help out the team to win the game.”

On adjusting to Division I basketball…
“The toughest adjustment has been to play hard every possession.  In high school, you could take plays off, but in college it is not the same. You have to play hard on both offense and defense.”

On playing with a dominate low-post teammate…
“This is the first time.  When I was in high school, I always wanted to play with a guy like that; a guy that if you give him the ball, he can score.  So having a player like him now it feels great.”

On Coach Martin’s expectations from his guards…
“He expects me to be a leader more than anything else.  That’s the biggest thing he demands from his point guards.”

On his thoughts playing with Gipson for four years…
“It is amazing.  I trust him every time I give him the ball.  I know he can score, so it relieves the pressure for most guards when we feed the post, knowing that he is going to get it done.”

On his high school coach’s advice prior to coming to K-State…
“Shaky (Rodriguez) told me that Frank was going to expect 100 percent from me every day.  He told me that I was going to get yelled at when I did not do the right things.  He told me how much effort it requires to play defense for Frank (Martin).”

On Denis Clemente’s advice prior to coming to K-State….
“He told me that it was going to be hard at first, and that I needed to be mentally strong.”

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