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March 21, 2015

Tekele Cotton

Gregg Marshall

Evan Wessel


THE MODERATOR: The student-athletes of Wichita State are here, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel. We will open for questions.

Q. Evan, what's it going to be like going against your former high school teammate in Perry Ellis and possibly with a match-up against him on the floor?
EVAN WESSEL: It's going to be a great opportunity; great teammates back in high school, and it will be fun to play against him here tomorrow.

Q. Evan, your father said he thought you and Perry started competing against each other and playing On All-star teams when you were 5 years old. Do you have any memory of that?
EVAN WESSEL: Sure, we grew up playing against each other and like all the bay back in "bitty" basketball in basically the Wichita area. Times of memories when you were kids, played middle school together and high school. It's a lot of fun, to be able to play against him tomorrow.

Q. Either of you guys, have you talked about defensive assignments and if so what's the plan with Perry? Who is going to be on Perry to start?
TEKELE COTTON: Well, we watch film every day, and we're trying to get prepared for what they do offensively as well as defensively, and although we haven't really talked about who is guarding who exactly, we're just trying to get down pat what they do and we're just trying to get prepared for the game.

EVAN WESSEL: Like what Tekele said, we're just watching film, watch more film today and finalize our game plan tonight and tomorrow, and we're just going to get ready to see what they do as a whole and get a solid game plan for tomorrow.

Q. They've got some size, which isn't new to you guys, but what do you plan to do to contend with their bigs tomorrow?
TEKELE COTTON: I mean, we're just going to grind it out. We know that they have size, and we're not as big as them, but we're just as -- we're going to rely on our toughness, and we're going to get rebounds, and we're going to defend them and we're going to out there and just do what we gotta do and just stay on our game plan and not worry about how big they are or whatever, because we're just as tough, and we're going to go out there and compete. We're not afraid of them being bigger than us.

Q. Tekele, what do you think about Frank Mason, what he does for their team and would you expect to be guarding him at some points during the game?
TEKELE COTTON: Well, I don't know who I'll guard for right now. Like I said, we're just watching film and just getting ready for whatever that they do. But as far as him personally, he's a great player. I've seen him play a few times this year, and I mean we've been watching a lot of film, and he's a pit bull and he's really good. He's their point guard; he drives a lot, he can shoot it, and he's very good.

Q. Evan, they say you were recruited a little bit for football at Kansas. How seriously was that and how serious were you about that, if at all?
EVAN WESSEL: Yeah, they offered me a football scholarship there, took a visit, but I always just wanted to play basketball in college, and my heart was always with basketball. And I'm glad they offered me the opportunity, but I'm glad with my decision where I'm at and happy going forward.

Q. You both mentioned you have watched a lot of film, doing whatever you can to prepare. Can you describe the challenge of doing that in such a short period of time? How much film have you watched? I don't know if you can quantify it into a number, but how much time have you spent getting ready for a game like this with such a short window?
TEKELE COTTON: We got really great coaches that have been scouting their team and everything that they do, and they really prepare us for games; it doesn't how much of a window we have to prepare for them, they get us prepared for them, and they show us the things that we need to focus on, and they get us very well prepared for the games.

EVAN WESSEL: Like Tekele said, coaches do a great job of breaking it down as far as getting a game plan ready. Obviously we had coaches scouting them before yesterday, getting ready for a potential match-up, so we're just staying focused as players and listening to them and getting it down for tomorrow.

Q. For both of you, for fans, this is more than just a game, it's very emotional. Would you say that would be the case for your players? Is it a good thing to treat it even bigger than an NCAA game than it is?
EVAN WESSEL: It's obviously very emotional for our fans both ways, and it's a great atmosphere for college basketball in general; and it's great for our state in my opinion. But as far as players go, it's a chance to go to the Sweet 16, and that's how we're going to treat it. It's another game to advance in the tourney, and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I like the match-up; it's going to be great for basketball, like I said, and looking forward to the challenge.

TEKELE COTTON: Just to chime in on what he said, I'm not from Kansas, but I know that the state of Kansas has a lot of history with basketball. I mean, it's going to be a great -- like a big-time game, an epic game for the whole state, and we just want to go out there and compete and go out there and try to win the game, because we want to advance. That's what I feel like our mind-set is on.

Q. Evan, yesterday you were matched up one-on-one against Troy Williams for Indiana. He tried to iso a lot against you. Could you describe that match-up? I think he might have had more height on you, but what you tried to do against a guy like that, who, he was basically trying to go at you and I think he finished 2 of 10 from the field. What were you trying to do defensively against a guy like that?
EVAN WESSEL: He's a great player, he's a great athlete, he really puts pressure on you as a defender. He keeps coming at you and coming at you, and you just try to contain a guy like that. He's really athletic, and he likes to get out on the open court, and he loves space. You just got to keep him under control and stick to your defensive principles.

Q. Evan, COACH MARSHALL was very complimentary about your play, the intangibles you bring to the court. Talk about how you evolved from high school to the Division I level as a player.
EVAN WESSEL: I just try to do whatever it takes to help my team win, whether that's defending, rebounding, you know, helping on the offensive end where I can. We got a lot of great players around us, and we just try to use everyone and put the pieces together to get the win.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the Shockers of Wichita State? Gentlemen, thank you very much. Best of luck tomorrow. Head coach of the Shockers is here, Gregg Marshall. We're going to have a statement.

COACH MARSHALL: Okay. We are very pleased with how we played yesterday. I thought Indiana played very well. We gave up way too many points for my taste, but I thought a lot of the credit went to them and how well they played in transition in particular. I thought they were really good. Then our guys just found a way. I thought Zach Brown coming off the bench, the way he played to give some of the rest to our veteran guards and then the big three that Tekele Cotton hit in the corner, the way our guys shot free-throws down the stretch and a couple of big stops towards the end. The turning point of the game was I thought we turned defense into offense and scored in transition about three times in the middle of the second half and took us a slight deficit into a 6-point advantage. So we're excited to be here, have a chance to play a great program again, in Kansas, for the right to go to the Sweet 16.

Q. Has there been a kind of light-bulb moment for Zach Brown or how would you trace his evolution to where he could give you what he gave you yesterday?
COACH MARSHALL: I don't know. I know that he's -- he had the concussion several weeks ago. He missed X amount of games. Paul, you would know better than I. I think he's just, like most young people, very glad to be here. We had a nice moment in our practice the day before the game. I guess that would have been on Thursday. We're finishing up shootaround and he walks up to me in the middle of the floor, and he says "thanks, Coach, this is really cool!" Thanks for picking him, I should have been thanking him for picking us, because he had other choices as well.

Q. Coach, Bill Self said he made a mistake, along with many others when it came to recruiting or not recruiting Ron Baker. What do you remember about that process?
COACH MARSHALL: I'm just glad he did. I'm particularly glad he didn't recruit Ron Baker. He's got plenty of good players. I'm not sure if I made a mistake in not recruiting his guys, because I don't think I could have gotten them anyway. You can't have 'em all. Bill's got a really good group of guards; they play really well with Oubre and Selden and Mason. I mean he's got potential NBA guys that barely get off the bench. And we're glad that Ron is wearing the black and yellow, and I'm sure as a Kansas kid, he's excited about the opportunity to play KU tomorrow.

Q. Gregg, you personally, is there a heightened level of anticipation beyond the magnitude of what the game means and advancing to a Sweet 16 for you personally?
COACH MARSHALL: I don't think so, Bob, really. It's exciting. I'm not going to tell you that I'm not excited about being in the third round against a wonderful program, a great team, a great coach, but when that ball is tossed, I'm just going to coach my team, and it's going to be just like any other game, with tremendous energy and intensity. And last year, Kentucky, that was a wonderful basketball game! It was electricity all through the building; it was one play after another, and tomorrow's game could very well be like that. I just hope we come out on the different end.

Q. Coach, did you know when Baker was at Scott City why teams were not giving him that attention or were you saying this is a guy who could play anywhere in the country?
COACH MARSHALL: No, honestly, Jeff, we had him in an elite camp the summer before his senior year, and we saw him, and there was something that intrigued us about him. And I give credit to my assistant coach at the time, Chris Jans, who is now the head coach at Bowling Green State University, who also had a wonderful season this year as well, and is still alive in one of those tournaments, I think the CBI. Chris saw him in a state tournament at Hutch and said "Coach, you've got to go see him tomorrow in the championship game. He's gotten a lot better." So I went and saw him, and five minutes into the game, told my father-in-law, who was with me at the time that we were going to have to try to find a way to get him in our program. And we were going to place him in prep school or junior college because we didn't have a scholarship for a 2 guard at the time, and they came up with the idea of paying their way and walking on and doing a 5 for 4, which will yet to be determined whether we will have him for five years.

Q. Gregg, when you play Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, do you have to spend time talking about this isn't about the name on the front of the uniform; it's about the preparation we have done over the years and months to get to this point? Is that something that will be involved in your thinking and approach?
COACH MARSHALL: You know, I think for the guys that have been in our program, really, when you think about it, going back to the last two games of '13 was Ohio State and Louisville, so that's two name teams in college basketball, all the way back from Coach Fred Taylor and obviously what Louisville has done with Coach Crum and Coach Pitino. And then last year you have Cal Poly and Kentucky and Coach Cal and the wonderful job that he does with his program, and now it's Indiana and Coach Crean and Coach Self in Kansas. So five of the last six teams that we've played, if you're worried about what's on the front of your jersey and you're Wichita State, you don't show up. You just have to worry about how you're going to play, and you have to worry about -- the basketball that's played within the lines will take care of the outcome. We don't go in with any preconceived notion just because they've got the blue or they've got the red and they've got, you know, "Big Blue Nation" or whatever you call it, that's going to affect the outcome. We go in thinking if we play well we have a chance and that's been it by and large.

Q. Coach, Ron told me his phone has been blowing up with everyone at home saying it's the biggest game of their lives, not even worrying about Ron. Have you gotten that sentiment?
COACH MARSHALL: I haven't had anyone saying it's the biggest game of their lives. I've gotten a lot of e-mails, texts, and I don't even know how many voice mails; I don't check those at this time of the year. There are too many ways to try to keep up. It's just a big game, and the loser goes home and someone gets to advance to Cleveland and play in the Sweet 16.

Q. Coach, what have you seen from Perry Ellis in the last couple of weeks with that knee, and can you give us any kind of insight on how you guys plan to attack him defensively?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, first of all, Perry is a wonderful player and a wonderful young human being. We recruited Perry, that's the one young man on Kansas' roster that we recruited, and I don't know, somehow he told us that we were the "runner-up" which you don't want to be the runner-up in recruiting, among other things. But he is just a tremendous young person, and I think he's had a great career there, after having a great career at Wichita Heights, for Coach Auer and our community. And he looks like he's slowed somewhat by the knee, but I don't know. I haven't talked to him; we don't have conversations now after the recruiting was done. But I admire him, and I respect him and what he's done there, and if he's healthy, he's tremendous and if he's not healthy, he's still really good. That's the thing with Perry, he does so many things. He's expanded his game; he can shoot it now, he can play on the perimeter. He's always been really good around the basket; he's a tremendous athlete, he's a "team first" guy and that's why we recruited him so hard.

Q. Gregg, what do you think of the match-up between the former high school teammates in Perry Ellis and Evan Wessel?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, I hope it goes Wessel's way, since he's on my team. It's going to be -- Wessel was the less heralded recruit on those Heights teams in Wichita. But we saw something in Evan. Evan had a chance to go to KU, but it was to go play football and be a safety, so he elected not to do that and try basketball, and he's done very well. He's had a wonderful career. You just look at his win/loss record in games that he's participated in, and he's been a great asset for us. But he's going to give up some size and some athletic ability, but he'll have to find a way to do his things. He's got to set some great screens; he's gotta come up with some loose balls, perhaps knock down a couple of perimeter shots and be that "stretch 4" that we need him to be.

Q. Gregg, back on Evan again, the intangibles that you saw from him in high school as Perry's teammate and less heralded recruit, as you say, what did you like about him?
COACH MARSHALL: The things that we just mentioned. The fact that he's -- once the ball is head-level or lower, I think he's one of the best ball-getters in the country. When it guess on the ground, I will give you generally the other nine guys, and I'm going to take Evan and we will probably split on who gets the most loose balls. He's just a tremendous winner. He won state championships in football, he won multiple state championships in basketball, and now he's gone to a Final Four. He's been 35-0, and here we are with a chance to play for another Sweet 16 opportunity. He does nothing but win. That's hard to quantify, but you love having those guys in your program.

Q. Obviously your assistants thoroughly scout every opponent and give you everything they possibly can. Does having Connor Frankamp, who was so recently in the Kansas program, can he give you any behind-the-curtain intelligence that even your assistants can't find?
COACH MARSHALL: He may have talked to our assistants, I don't know that. I haven't seen Connor since we've been in Omaha, nor have I spoken to him. So I don't think it's that big of a deal. I don't know that he's talked to my assistant coaches; maybe he has, maybe he hasn't. Steve Forbes is the primary scout guy for this game, so maybe I'll ask him to see if he's reached out to Connor, maybe he can remember that stuff, maybe he can't, I don't know. It's been a while since he's worn their uniform. It's a good question, I just don't know the answer to it.

Q. Gregg, you mentioned the process of recruiting Baker. I'm wondering if you've had to find yourselves maybe getting a little creative in recruiting and how much have the doors opened up for you with the recent NCAA success?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, we've always been creative, Tom, in recruiting. I said from day one when I was hired as a head coach at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, that we're going to look at high school kids, junior college kids, we're going to look at transfers, we're going to look overseas, we're going to look in the United States. We're going to look at military guys, coming out of the military, doesn't matter. If you've got eligibility and your grades are good and you fit what we're looking for in terms of character and talent, then we'll give you a shot. We have always tried to be creative. I think that finally with Zach Brown and now the guys that we've got coming in in our recruiting class for next year, including Connor Frankamp as a transfer, but we've got some freshmen that we've signed for next year that we think are going to be really, really good. Landry Shamet, Kansas City; we've got Marcus McDuffy from Jersey City, New Jersey. We had to get creative to go up into the Northeast and get him. We have Tyrone Taylor from Hargrave Military Academy, and we've got Eric Hamilton from Sunrise Christian Academy there in Wichita. So you look at that and we've gone all over the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard to get good players.

Q. Gregg, the NCAA Tournament is famous for bringing these kinds of teams together, like Kentucky/Louisville, Dayton/Ohio State, and do you pay particular attention to that and do you find yourself rooting for the underdog in the past?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, yeah, I've rooted for the underdog in the past because generally I've been the underdog. Those seven years at Winthrop, I was never a favorite going into any game. Seven times that we've been to the tournament, and we have been the favorite son at Wichita State, that's a big reason why I came to Wichita State, the opportunity to have multiple bids from the Missouri Valley as well as the opportunity to get better seeding. That's our reason for trying to play the best schedule that we can play every year because we're trying to beat the best seeding in the NCAA Tournament. That's how you do it. It's who you play and then who you beat. We're the underdog tomorrow, so I will certainly be pulling for the underdog as big as I ever have tomorrow.

Q. Gregg, when you go to schedule nonconference games, are you still finding that there are a lot of teams that don't want to play you?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, I mean, when you say "don't want" there's probably 350 Division I schools, and we can only play 12 in the nonconference, so there are a lot of teams that aren't going to play us, whether it's they don't want to or they can't fit it into their schedule or simply they're full. I don't know their reasons; they don't have to give me their reasons, but we don't call everybody either. We try to hold out for the best teams that we can possibly get in a neutral floor, on a neutral floor or in a home-and-home situation going forward. In the past years we've had Tennessee; we've had Alabama; we've had Seton Hall; we've had Utah. And those series are ongoing. And we've also tried to play the best non-BCS teams that we can in a continuing series, like Tulsa and St. Louis, that are regional rivals as well. So we do the best we can with our scheduling, and we would love to continue to upgrade it, and we're in talks with some very good programs. Because of the relevancy of our program, we've got promoters and whatnot trying to put games together for us, like this past year, a one-shot deal against Memphis and South Dakota. Both of us got paid to go up there and play in the ESPN Kick-Off Marathon, so that was great. So we'll try to continue to look at those opportunities as well.

Q. Gregg, you watch film of KU. Can you talk about Frank Mason's role for them and some of the challenges he presents are?
COACH MARSHALL: Yeah, he's a tremendous guard. He really attacks downhill, like we've talked about Fred VanVleet attacking downhill. He can get you going right; he can get you going left, he can change directions. He can shoot the three, he's a very good defender. He's got good hands. He's a bulldog out there and very, very talented player and kind of the straw that stirs the drink for them. Should be a great match-up.

Q. Gregg, I guess how would you describe your relationship, if any, with Bill Self?
COACH MARSHALL: My relationship with Bill is good. I mean, very cordial. I knew Bill when he was the head coach at Tulsa, I think, and I was the head coach at Winthrop. I think those years coincided. His Tulsa team knocked out the College of Charleston, I believe, and we talked about that because I had been a long-time assistant at the College of Charleston, in the NCAA Tournament back in the late 90s, something like that. But then we stayed in touch. He's always been very nice to Lynn and I when we see him at the Final Four. And now that he's at Kansas, been there for a while, doing great things, and I'm at Wichita State, we're not as -- we don't see each other that much. I don't visit Lawrence very often, and when he's in Wichita, usually I will see him then because it's a basketball-related function. But he's a great guy, he's a tremendous coach, one of the best in the country, has a wonderful program. So have a lot of respect for him.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Gregg. Good luck.
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