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HAWAIIAN AIRLINES DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC MEDIA CONFERENCE


December 16, 2013


Frank Martin


HONOLULU, HAWAII

ELIZABETH MCCOLLUM:テつ Do we have SouthCarolina Head Coach, Frank Martin, on the line?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yes, I'm here.
ELIZABETH MCCOLLUM:テつ Great, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.テつ Welcome.テつ First off, you've had an extremely tough non‑conference road schedule so far.テつ Talk about how you think those games will help your team and the newcomers that you have?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, when we put the schedule together, we've got to be one of the youngest teams in the country.テつ The whole intent and purpose was to prepare our team for reality when SEC play comes around.テつ That is kind of what's been put in front of us.
We like our team.テつ We're excited about who we are.テつ We're excited about the direction we're headed in.テつ We also have exposed ourselves to some hard, hard, difficult games and some really difficult environments.テつ Our team will be better because of those experiences.テつ That's no different with the event coming up out in Hawai'i playing St. Mary's, and whoever else we end up playing as we move forward and continue to harden our team and get us better prepared for conference play.

Q.テつ Have you had much time to scout St. Mary's and see your first‑‑ what do you think of your first round opponent here?
COACH MARTIN:テつ No, I have not been able to see them play.テつ I kind of saw their Boise game a little bit the other night.テつ But we've got two more games we play tomorrow, and we play Thursday before we depart for Hawai'i.テつ So I've been a little more wrapped up with our immediate opponents.テつ But my impression of them is Randy has been the coach there for a long time.テつ He's still the coach there.テつ So that tells me they're going to do what they've always done, which is win.
Offensively, they're a well‑oiled machine.テつ They understand the concepts that they want to play through on both ends of the floor.テつ So it's going to be an unbelievable challenge for us.テつ There is a reason when the year's over that you can put St. Mary's down as one of those teams that's going to have 27, 28 wins every single year.

Q.テつ Can you tell us about your two leading scorers, Ty Johnson and Sindarius Thornwell each in their first years at SouthCarolina?テつ How have they adapted to being leaders of your squad?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, them and Mindaugas Kacinas have been probably our most consistent players.テつ It's Ty is getting his feet back under him after sitting out after transferring from Villanova a year ago.テつ He continues to get more comfortable and more comfortable.テつ Not just with playing, but also learning our system and playing within our system.テつ And Sindarius as a freshman has had some real bright moments.テつ He's learning firsthand what high‑level college basketball is all about, and doing it with the responsibility of being a featured player.
So they've both learned great lessons.テつ They've both taken strides in the right direction, and we ask a lot of them as they continue to grow as young kids trying to understand what we're doing.

Q.テつ Coach Martin, I was wondering your thoughts on when you were here a couple years ago with Kansas State, winning that title and what that did for your team and what it means to you to come back out a couple years later?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, it was an unbelievable experience.テつ That tournament gave our team a chance to grow, to find confidence, to believe in itself.テつ It's one of the elite tournaments in the country year‑in and year‑out.テつ I mean, their field, it's just‑‑ I can't say enough because I've been to a lot of tournaments.テつ The hospitality, the way the tournament people, the host for our team, just the way that they treat you, it's second to none.テつ It's a first class event.テつ It's high‑level basketball, high‑level people that just makes you want to go back.
It's an unbelievable experience.テつ That year winning that tournament, knowing all those things now makes that championship even that much more gratifying.

Q.テつ Can you speak a little about the format of the tournament where you play two days and have a full day off and then play on Christmas Day?テつ Do you like the format and do you have plans for date off?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Absolutely love the format.テつ You go in, play two games and then get a day off, so you can actually kind of catch your breath, coaches, players, everybody.テつ Kind of just enjoy the fact that you're in paradise.テつ Then you regroup and go play that last game.テつ I think it saves the wear and tear on your players.テつ It makes the game on the last day to be better because players are not beat up playing three games in three days.
I think it's an awesome, awesome way to do it.テつ That's why we're back.テつ I'm such a fan of the event, the hospitality, the kind of teams and the way it's handled.
ELIZABETH MCCOLLUM:テつ David is the executive director of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.テつ David, talk a little about the preparation that goes into a tournament like this?テつ As you said, your staff does both the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and this at the same time.
DAVID MATLIN:テつ Yeah, yeah, well, obviously there is a lot of multi‑tasking going on.テつ The real preparations and what makes successful events is starting off early.テつ The big part of what we do in the early season once you lock the teams up is really work with those teams and those markets to make it conducive for their fans to come out and join them.テつ As far as logistics, we have four full‑time people on staff for both events, and we also have interns and volunteers and committees.テつ We have a committee of 37 for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and a comparable sized committee for the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.テつ People that are really into basketball in the business community that provide us a lot of support and resources to really host the teams and help feed the teams and be hosts for the teams.テつ Just really welcoming for them to make it a great experience.
Obviously, what Coach Martin said made me feel really good about our team's efforts.テつ That is one thing Hawai'i is known for is hospitality.
So there are a lot of logistics, everything from making sure you have basketballs, to practice gyms, to the gifts we give the players arrive on time, and officials, and pretty much everything from soup to nuts.テつ But the team here does a really good job.テつ Our point person for the tournament is Brad Motooka who does a phenomenal job.
ELIZABETH MCCOLLUM:テつ Great.テつ Coach Hoiberg, thank you for joining us.テつ Just a couple questions for you.テつ And then we'll open it up to anyone on the line.
First of all, congratulations on a great rivalry win against Iowa Friday night.テつ That brings you to 8‑0 on the season.テつ Can you talk about how the emotion of this win can help your team moving forward?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, it was a huge win for us.テつ It was a very important game for the State of Iowa.テつ A game we've played a long time in this community.テつ Feel very fortunate to have walked out of that one with a win.テつ Iowa missing free throws down the stretch, and we started to make ours, so that's a big win for confidence when you maybe don't play your best basketball.テつ But you find a way to gut out a win.テつ So we're excited about that one.テつ We're excited about coming out to Hawai'i and playing in a great event.

Q.テつ Great, speaking of the event, the format is you play two games then you're off a day and you come back on Christmas Day.テつ How do you like the format?テつ Can you comment a bit on your first round opponent in George Mason?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, I think it's a great format.テつ I like the fact that you get a day in between that last one.テつ I know how difficult it is to play games back to back to back.テつ So it's good.テつ It's a little different for all the teams that are playing in the event.テつ The fact that we've had several days to prepare to put in a game plan in a short amount of time, it's tough, but we're all in the same boat on that one.
As far as George Mason is concerned, it's a team with experience, a team that scores the basketball very well.テつ They play extremely hard.テつ It's a team that's played some very good opponents to this point coming off a year where they won 24 games.テつ It's a game we're going to have to play very well to win.

Q.テつ Can you talk about your leaders, specifically senior Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang who is coming off an amazing freshman season?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Melvin, first of all, I can't believe he's a senior already.テつ Seems like yesterday he got to Iowa State.テつ We got here at the same time.テつ Here we are in year four.テつ Coming off a preseason where he had a hyperextended knee.テつ Got that in practice.テつ Came back after sitting out the first two quite a bit ahead of schedule and played exceptionally well against Michigan, really on a day and a half of practice.テつ It was an unbelievable effort for him to lead us into that game.
He's shooting the ball extremely well right now and doing all the intangible thing that's Melvin always does.
George knee yang has really been good for us.テつ He's great down the stretch against Iowa.テつ Made some huge plays for us to get us back into that game and keep us in that game.テつ Made some big plays down the stretch against Michigan and BYU which were great wins for our team as well.

Q.テつ When you looked at the schedule at the start of the year, what did you think you guys had to do to be in the position you are in now undefeated through eight?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Well, the big thing, I thought we'd have a great early season test against Michigan who at the time was ranked number 7 in the country.テつ It started with coming out with a great effort in that one and really getting ourselves prepared in the preseason.テつ We knew we had some great early season tests.テつ Then you follow that up with that BYU game in Provo.テつ So we knew we had to get a lot of things accomplished.
We were very fortunate I thought this year to have the extra couple weeks of practice time.テつ So many new faces that we had.テつ Then as far as getting the guys to believe and to buy in as quickly as possible, and they've done a great job, handled adversity very well.テつ And that's been the key to our early season success.

Q.テつ With the faces along with that comes questions about answering for themselves thus far?
COACH MARTIN:テつ I think our guys have done a good job of accepting the rolls that have been given to them.テつ You look at all of this especially in the back court, when you have that much production that you have to replace, somebody's got to be able to step up.
I think we're fortunate to get DeAndre Kane in here, a guy that has a ton of experience, to be able to really help the young guys come along.テつ He's been great in a leadership role and been really good, obviously, with his all‑around play.
Then just the guys that we have coming back have been good.テつ I think our freshmen are ahead of where a lot of freshmen are when they come into college.

Q.テつ Have you ever come in contact with Obama during your whatever watching an NBA game or playing for the bulls or anything?
COACH MARTIN:テつ You know what, I did an event with Michelle last year at Wells Fargo, so I was able to meet her and just a wonderful, wonderful person.テつ Spent some time with Craig on a couple of coaches' trips.テつ But I've not met President Obama.

Q.テつ If you get to talk to him, what do you tell him?
COACH MARTIN:テつ I don't know, Randy.テつ I haven't really thought about that.

Q. テつCoach, just wondering your thoughts on the field as a whole, and perhaps being considered one of the favorites going in?
COACH MARTIN:テつ I think it's a great field.テつ When you look at it top to bottom, I think there are teams‑‑ any team can beat any other in the field.テつ You look at St. Mary's and what they're doing right now, and had a great game with Boise here last week, and Boise played Kentucky very well in Lexington, which is an extremely difficult place to play.
All the teams on our side of the bracket have had some very good moments this year.テつ So I think top to bottom, it's a great field.

Q.テつ Coach, I wanted to ask you about your relationship with Coach Rice.テつ It seemed you got to know each other well even fairly recently.テつ I wondered if you could talk about him and how you've gotten to know him?
COACH MARTIN:テつ I've gotten to know Leon with a couple of the Nike trips that we've been on.テつ Had the opportunity to play golf with him.テつ He's just a wonderful person and a heck of a basketball coach as well.テつ He's got those guys doing some special things with all of the players back from that team that had a great season a year ago.テつ And I think he's just‑‑ first and foremost, he's a wonderful person.

Q.テつ You guys been able to keep in touch?テつ He made it seem that you guys were able to talk a little bit here and there?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, we do.テつ We go back and forth with some different ideas with that definitely, and talk about our teams and how we feel after watching each other, and how you can help.テつ So, yeah.テつ We have kept that relationship, and we do talk during the season.

Q.テつ Coach, I was wondering how you might sum up the first three or four years it's been for you coaching your alma mater and the kind of support you get over there?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Oh, the support has been off the charts.テつ It's just been awesome coming back and being home again.テつ This is where I grew up.テつ I grew up four or five blocks from Hilton Coliseum.テつ My parents are here.テつ My in‑laws are here.テつ So it's been a very smooth transition especially for my kids.テつ We just absolutely, you know, are having the time of our lives with being back home and coaching at a place where we get the support that we're getting, and hopefully we can continue to play well and continue to get better.
ELIZABETH MCCOLLUM:テつ Coach, thank you for your time and have a safe trip to Hawai'i.
COACH MARTIN:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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