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March 25, 2015
MODERATOR: We're joined now by the Head Coach of the Wichita State Shockers, Gregg Marshall. We'll ask Coach Marshall to begin with an opening statement, then we'll take questions for Coach Marshall for the next 15 minutes. The Wichita State locker room is open with available student-athletes.
COACH MARSHALL: We're just excited to be here in Cleveland. Got here last night, flight was a little delayed so we had a late practice and got something to eat around 9:30, and our preparation for Notre Dame is ongoing. Great workout this morning and then we came to the open practice, and guys seemed to have a lot of pep to their step. Just looking forward to the next challenge.
MODERATOR: If you have a question for Coach Marshall, raise your hand.
Q. Coach, Darius obviously is from around here. What kind of person is Darius, in your opinion, and what's he been like to coach the last couple years?
COACH MARSHALL: Darius is a great young man, got a wonderful family growing up in the Akron area. His dad still plays, I loved when he came in on their official visit. Dad talked about still playing and working with Darius and helping him. He comes from a basketball background with Mav, his second cousin being with LeBron's camp, and that whole deal. So good seeing them when we played at Detroit this year, they came to the game and I think Mav was at another home game at some point, I just don't recall which one. Darius is a hard worker, he's really developed his body. Went overseas with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Tour this past summer and I think that helped him as well. He can score in a multitude of ways, he can score facing the basket, with his back to the basket, he's actually stepped out and hit some 3s this year, he can put it on the floor a little bit. Much like Auguste for Notre Dame, I think they're very similar. I think Auguste is bigger, I've never seen him in person, but I think they have similar games.
Q. Darius and Shaq have seemingly gotten two fouls in almost every first half of every -- that's the way it seems at least. How difficult is that to strategize, and what have you tried to work with them on about maybe not drawing so many fouls?
COACH MARSHALL: I think for Darius just it's a little shocking because he played so well last year in the post without getting those type fouls. This year I think he's done a little better towards the end of the year until recently. The early part of the year he was getting two fouls every time we turned around. Shaq is just foul-prone, and that comes from not playing as much. This is his first year playing college basketball he's got to learn to move his feet show his hands and get his body in position, and when you're as big as him unfortunately, I think it puts him -- when he bumps hips with someone, the other guy is usually the guy that moves, it's just physics and he's got to move his feet, be there earlier, hold his ground, and not nudge people towards the end, but Bush Wamukota has really saved us in a couple of occasions. I thought he was really good in the first half against Kansas.
Q. Coach, in what ways did Zach Brown maybe make his greatest strides in that year at Sunrise and in what ways was he maybe not a finished product?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, I think he just played for a great program against great players every day. If you look around the country now, Sunrise Christian Academy's got players all over the place, a couple at Michigan State, one at Notre Dame. We've got Zach Brown and we've got Rauno Nurger with us, and we've got Eric Hamilton coming next year every day he's getting stronger with a great weight program that they have and he's also getting coached. They did a wonderful job of helping him develop into the player that he's become now and the good news is that there's still so much positive upside with him. I think he's really starting to hit his stride with his confidence, he can shoot the 3, he can put it on the deck. He beat Dubre to that loose ball, which I thought was one of the key plays in the game against Kansas. And he's just playing with a confidence now and a vigor, if you will, and he's a tremendous defender, too, at 6'6, he can guard a lot of people.
Q. I don't know what this says about the coaching profession or the media profession but your interview with Jim Rome yesterday turned into a Sports Center headline because of what you said about Alabama. What's the philosophy behind about being open about saying -- it's fairly normal for someone to say they will listen to other offers if they come, but in the coaching profession, it's not. Why so open about that, what's the philosophy?
COACH MARSHALL: My philosophy? I just tell people the truth. I don't try to sugarcoat things if they don't need to be sugarcoated. That's not something I'm worried about. I'm coaching my team. None of my players are worried about it, none of my staff's worried about it, and I've said how content and happy I am at Wichita State over and over and over, and we are. It could be the last job I ever have, I could retire from there. But at the same time I don't bury my head in the sand if a tremendous offer comes along, we look at it as a family and that's been something we've dealt with for 17 years. Probably 13 of the last 17 years, we've had decisions to make but I've had two jobs in that amount of time.
Q. Gregg, can you just -- does this situation this week compare to last week where your guys had a real motivation to get to the second round, to get that game with Kansas, and is there a similar dynamic at work this week even though you have a very, very good opponent in front of you now?
COACH MARSHALL: Maybe. You would have to ask the guys. From my perspective, no, it don't matter who that team is. We prepare the same, we know that if we lose to that next team, there is no Saturday game. Last week it was Friday, Sunday. This week's it's Thursday, Saturday, so we're just going to prepare for Notre Dame and give everything that we've got to win that game and then whoever it's going to be on the other side. If we're fortunate enough to win, either Kentucky or West Virginia, we'll do the same with them. The players may look at it differently but that's not the way I look at it.
Q. Regarding Notre Dame, what are the strengths you see there and what aspects of their game provide you with the greatest difficulty?
COACH MARSHALL: Yeah, I talked to my staff, I coached against Mr. Brey, Coach Brey, in 2007 and loved his team then but I think this is a better team. That was when they were in the Big East, they had two first team all-conference guys and plus a young post player by the name of Heron Gody that turned out to be pretty good. This group, they've got five guys on the floor that can all score the basketball, they can all shoot it, most of them can drive it, they're tough. Love their tenacity, they love to create live ball turnovers and take the ball from you or steal the ball in the passing lane. He's done a great job, and to go into the ACC in his second year and win that tournament by beating North Carolina and Duke in Greensboro is a very difficult task and not too many teams can do that, they were able to do it.
Q. Having been through it fairly recently, actually a year ago, can you describe sort of the similarities, if at all, with you and Kentucky and sort of the undefeated situation and just sort of the challenges, the pressures and sort of what happened, and what do you remember about it and what they might be going through?
COACH MARSHALL: The similarities between us and Kentucky? They wear shorts and tank tops and sneakers, and we do the same. I don't know what type hair gel Cal uses, but he uses something, a little bit of product, I use a little product. His suits are probably a little more expensive. I don't know if there's many similarities other than that. We have -- we have our own niche in college basketball, and they have their own niche. He does a wonderful job as well as anyone with their niche. We try to do the same with ours. Do you have a follow-up question?
Q. In terms of the pressures of the undefeated season, are there any similarities?
COACH MARSHALL: They've done it very well. Obviously they had a couple of close calls and they were able to pull through. Mississippi, Coach Kennedy had them on the ropes. Florida at one time had them on the ropes and I think there was one other game. And we had the Missouri State game last year at their place, which was a big deficit, and we were able to overcome it. You have to just concentrate on the next game, what we were talking about earlier. We are worried about Notre Dame. We are worried about West Virginia. They're not worried about Wichita State, I can guarantee you that. They'll be worried about Notre Dame or Wichita State. That's the key, and have fun with it. We had fun with it, we really enjoyed it. I don't know what type of fun Cal is having with his group. I'll tell you what, winning is a lot more fun than losing, so I think they're having quite a bit of good fun.
Q. Seems like in the tournament you've been scoring more, pace of play is higher than what you get in the regular season. Do you look forward to that, and it seems like Wichita State can handle that change pretty effectively?
COACH MARSHALL: I think one of the unusual things about our team is we can play just about any pace. We've got good athletes, people, I think, maybe underestimate the athleticism and the speed and the quickness of Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. We choose to grind it out defensively and guard people, so that may be the reason why our pace is a little slower, but I think we can get up and down with Indiana like we did and score close to -- I think we scored close to 80 points in both games against Indiana and Kansas. We can go half court with you and I think that's a strength of our team.
MODERATOR: That's all the time we have for questions for Coach Marshall today. Thank you very much, Coach. Joined now by student-athletes Fred VanVleet and Darius Carter.
Q. Darius, speaking with your father, he said that when you were nine or 10 years old, he made you make a promise to him that no matter how hard he was on you, you weren't going to get angry and you weren't going to bite back because he wanted to you to be really good. What do you recall about that and do you think that really propelled you to this path that you're on right now?
DARIUS CARTER: Yeah, my dad kind of had a tough love thing. When I was little, you know, he was hard on me. I appreciate that because eventually when I went to Vincennes, my junior college coach was the same way. And now I'm here, Coach Marshall is the same way, so he kind of prepared me to take tough coaches when I was young.
Q. Fred and Darius, could both of you kind of describe Notre Dame's offense? Just give us a description of them.
DARIUS CARTER: They're really good offensively. They shoot a great percentage from the 3 and they try to come off of ball screens a lot and drive and contribute to the other players around the perimeter and that's how they get their wide open looks a lot. So we've just got to guard, you know, like we've been guarding, we've got to stay with our principals, try to drive them off the 3-point line a little bit.
FRED VanVLEET: Obviously they space the floor with multiple guys who shoot high percentages from 3, got a couple guards that really get in the paint and create, get their own as well, but talk about one of the better offensive teams in the country, so obviously they present a challenge for us but I think preparing for them, I think we'll be ready.
Q. Darius, you've had issues where you've gotten into early foul trouble, two first half fouls you've gone to the bench. Can you talk just a little bit about that. And then for Fred, Shaq's had the same issues and you're a kind of his personal valet out there. What do you tell him about trying to play defense without fouling?
DARIUS CARTER: For me, it's just being sound and not worrying about fouling. When I worry about getting fouls early, that's when I foul because I'm not as aggressive on defense but I need to just play and get that out of my mind, the fouling part and I think I'll be fine.
FRED VanVLEET: I mean, it's only so much you can tell him before he's got to do it on his own but I think he's got to just do his work early, be a little bit more engaged because when he's engaged, he's really good. And then I think the other part of it is conditioning. When he gets tired, then he does dumb stuff and gets out of position and ends up getting fouled. Just trying to get him to understand that you're not going to shut out guys at this level. Those guys are good enough players to score so you've got to just make it hard on them.
Q. Darius, could you just talk about your decision to come to Wichita State and it seems like it's worked out like beyond your wildest dreams.
DARIUS CARTER: My decision to come to Wichita State was really based on the success they have with the junior college players. I've seen that they had a lot of junior college players come and succeed, so I wanted to come somewhere where I could go and succeed and graduate, get my degree and also develop as a player.
Q. Darius, I know you're from Akron and I was wondering first if this is the closest college game you've ever played to home, and also, what that means to you, and also, what it means to play at Quicken, needless to say Cavaliers have a player from Akron, and I don't know if that means something to you or not but I would be curious?
DARIUS CARTER: Yeah, this is the closest I've played to home since I've been in college. It means a lot because my family gets to come see me play, a lot of my family and friends have never seen my play a college game in person. My parents having to drive 15, 16 hours just to come watch me play. It means a lot just for them to be able to come and I can see them because I haven't been home in a while. This arena is amazing. I know the atmosphere is going to be crazy and it's just a beautiful place to play. I'm just happy to be here with my teammates and contribute and try to win this thing.
Q. Fred, seems like you're able to pick up the pace a little bit in the NCAA Tournament compared to the regular season. How comfortable is Wichita State doing that, getting out and running a little bit more?
FRED VanVLEET: That's the way we like to play, especially as players, get out on the open court, because at this level you get this deep in the tournament, everybody has good half-court defense, set defense when you've got five guys staring at you, so if we're able to get some stops and rebound the basketball, I think we can get a lot of good opportunities in transition with the personnel we have. Obviously Indiana makes you play that pace with the way they play their offense and I think we got up and down through stretches at the Kansas game and we were able to have success there. As players, we like playing fast. Obviously during conference it's going to slow down, people know what you're running before you know what you're running seems like, so it's nice to play somebody else that's not as familiar.
Q. Darius, curious what part of Akron did you grow up in? And what other things were you into besides basketball when you were growing up? And are you going to get your hands on any Swenson's hamburgers while you're here?
DARIUS CARTER: I grew up on the north side of Akron, and then when I went to high school, I moved over in the Fairlawn area, and went to Firestone High School. If somebody bring me some Swenson's, I've sent a request out for someone to bring some, but I haven't gotten any deliveries yet, so hopefully I can get my hands on some.
Q. For Fred, this is a 7-seeded valley team against a 3-seeded ACC tournament champion, but I don't think you guys could get away with pretending to be underdogs even if you wanted to. How do you guys perceive yourselves at this point relative to a major conference team and maybe how is it different than last year going into that Kentucky game?
FRED VanVLEET: I don't know, that's for you guys to decide. We don't pay much attention to it, we just think of ourselves and winners and we're tough and we're going to fight and we're going to go out there and play the game like it's our last game, and whatever happens we'll live with it. So we'll just go out there and play with extreme confidence and play as hard as we possibly can and when you do that good things tend to happen. So you're writing something that's for you to decide if you want to write underdog or whatever, we don't really pay much attention to that.
Q. Just wondering how well you know LeBron, and maybe what kind of influence he's had on your career?
DARIUS CARTER: I know LeBron pretty well, and he's influenced me just from seeing how hard he works, you know, showing that good things can come out of Akron, Ohio. He's just a role model. He's a very hard working, good guy.
Q. Darius, I'm just wondering what you order at Swenson's; and number two, the play angry thing seems to fit your mentality. Why do you think, is that the kind of player you are?
DARIUS CARTER: Let me answer the second question first. The play angry thing, it's just we all are hard working guys and we all want to win, so that just comes with we all just have strong will to win and coach pushes us a lot, so that's just how we are.
MODERATOR: Your order from Swenson's?
DARIUS CARTER: I'll take a Gally Boy, probably some Potato Teasers. That's probably it. I don't want to get too full off of it.
MODERATOR: No condiments, ketchup, nothing like that.
DARIUS CARTER: No, no. Wait a minute, is this an actual order?
MODERATOR: Never know.
DARIUS CARTER: Yeah, that's it, that's it.
Q. Fred, are these longer timeouts too long, are they helpful? Do you find your guys drifting off in it? Does the coach have your attention while three and four minutes pass?
FRED VanVLEET: Well, if you know Coach Marshall even a little bit, I'm sure he's going to have our attention one way or the other. But I don't pay much attention to it. It help for a guy who's playing 37, 38 minutes sometimes, obviously the Indiana game was up and down, I'm chasing Yogi around a lot so I'm pretty gassed during that game. They can help, they can hurt, just we stay focused no matter what throughout the game, it's just a time to regroup and like I said, I'm playing that many minutes, I might need a couple extra ones, get some more commercials in.
Q. Fred again, what do you see in Notre Dame compared with what you saw preparing for Kansas, maybe out on the perimeter especially?
FRED VanVLEET: Yeah, I think the point guard, Jackson, is kind of similar to Mason in the sense that he wants to get in the paint and he can knock down a 3, get in the paint and create for others. He's pretty tough and good on defense, so they got really good guard play. They've got some skilled post players, and they shoot the ball really well, kind of similar to Indiana but probably more efficient and they're a good team. When you keep advancing, it doesn't get easier, the teams are getting better and better each round, so we've got our work cut out for us but we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Darius, back to the two-foul issue, what does it say about Evan and his abilities? You've talked about Bush and how he stepped up. And secondly, when you get two fouls and you go to the bench, what's that feeling like because Coach Marshall's not a guy that's going to put you back in in the first half, for sure?
DARIUS CARTER: That says a lot about Evan. He's a good player and he steps up in every position when he has to. He almost plays all the positions on the floor, and he's just a great guy to have on your team. And going to the bench, it's just tough sometimes but just got to look past it and know that when you get back in you've just got to correct it and move on.
Q. Darius, have you ever played LeBron one-on-one?
DARIUS CARTER: No.
Q. Was that in a team setting? When you work out with him, is it just lifting weights or could you describe it?
DARIUS CARTER: I've played with him in like pickup games and stuff, and we do, like, basketball drills. It's just like all types of workouts I've done with him.
Q. Fred, you talked about extreme confidence. Do you always have that? Is that something you guys have gained as this season has gone along? Do you feel like you're playing your best ball right now?
FRED VanVLEET: Yeah, we tend to always play that way. Whether it works out for you or not depends on your level of execution and being prepared and game to game, the game flow is just different. But we always have that confidence, I think in the tournament for young guys, when you keep advancing or like a guy like Zach Brown, when he plays well and he gets to see the benefits of that, confidence builds that way. As a freshman, I had a similar experience with the Final Four team just game to game just getting more and more confident. So for guys who haven't been here, confidence definitely builds throughout the game, throughout each week, but we try to have that level of confidence every game that we play just because you don't want to have any regrets at the end of the day.
MODERATOR: We would like to thank Darius and Fred for joining us in the main interview room
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports