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March 10, 2016

Bruce Weber

Wesley Iwundu

Justin Edwards

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas-85, Kansas State-63

THE MODERATOR: And we are joined now by Coach Weber and his Wildcats, student-athletes today are Justin Edwards and Wesley Iwundu. Coach, we'll go to you first for your thoughts on today's game.

COACH WEBER: You know, it's obvious they played at a very, very high level. You know, they made shots, they defended, they pushed the ball. You know, it's hard to come back after last night so late. And then you watch a little tape with the guys, up 'til about 11:00, they get some rest and then you're trying to walk through in a hotel and prepare. And that's the advantage they have for winning the league, and they deserve it. They're playing at a high level, obviously, and they've continued to play at a high level.

And the thing I appreciate about them is they play together. Not only good players, but they play together and they share the basketball and they seem to get along very well.

I am very proud of our guys. You know, it's disappointing that we couldn't give them a better game today. I didn't think we probably played as tough and strong as we needed to in the first half. We had some opportunities. Even though they were making some shots, we had some shot opportunities at the rim, loose balls, different things like that, that they ended up being the ones that, you know, get the ball. And that makes a difference in the game and they were able to get some transition.

But it's been a fun group, a good group. I appreciate the seniors. Justin had, I believe, a career high tonight, and, you know, kept giving his all, all the way 'til the end. Stephen Hurt and Brian Rohleder have been great K-State staters and good and fun to coach. Wes made some huge steps as a player and as a person, and we appreciate him and all the group we have. The freshmen, you know, they've been pretty good for us, but Dean had the huge game last night and just couldn't get going tonight. And Barry, those two go 2-15 between them and that's a big difference-maker compared to last night.

But it's been a fun group. I believe we deserve to be in the NIT. There's probably a lot of other teams, but we played a very, very difficult schedule. We've competed with everybody outside of the league. We were very good, but we just have to wait and see what happens. I hope, for these guy's sake, we get an opportunity to play again.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes now.

Q. Justin, where do you see this program going moving forward? You're done as a senior, maybe go to the NIT. But after the team came together the way they did this year, where do you see things falling next season?
JUSTIN EDWARDS: I definitely seeing them falling in a good position. They all work hard. The freshmen all came in working hard, listen to the older guys, listen to me. They proved to everyone that they can be really good. So I think they are going to be really good next year. They are going to get in the gym, get better, and just prove a lot more people wrong.

Q. Justin, everyone else seemed to be kind of struggling offensively today. Did you feel like maybe since you had the hot hand that you had to kind of carry the team a little more?
JUSTIN EDWARDS: Yeah, definitely. When you're making shots, you want to continue to keep shooting. Today I just had the hot hand and I was just making shots, so I just continued to try to keep doing it and help my team as much as I could.

Q. For Wes and Justin, Bruce just said he feels like you guys should be in the NIT. From your standpoint, do you feel like you will be playing more games this year?
WESLEY IWUNDU: Yeah, I definitely feel like we should be in it, not only for the team, but for our seniors, just because our strength of schedule, played with some top games, and a couple of good wins and really no bad losses. So I feel for the seniors, and I want to play some more games with them. But at the end of the day, it's left up to the committee or whoever is in charge of that. But as a team, we do want to play in the NIT.

JUSTIN EDWARDS: I agree with him. I think we're very deserving to play in the post-season tournament. Hopefully they will take into consideration how hard we kept up with other good teams. And our record doesn't show as good as we are, but I'm sure that the way we kept up with teams does.

Q. Just following up on that. In what ways do you feel like the team's performance in this tournament might influence the Selection Committee for the NIT?
JUSTIN EDWARDS: Just the fact that we came into the tournament and got a win right off the bat. And then losing to the No. 1 team in the country, I don't think that's a bad loss in anyone's books. So I think they'll take that into consideration.

THE MODERATOR: All right, Guys, thanks for coming. Good luck next week. Questions for Coach Weber.

Q. Coach, you've had a history this year of somebody different stepping up, stepping forward each night, but it seems like the problem is that the guy that stepped forward the night before struggles.
COACH WEBER: Our biggest -- I don't know if it is a weakness or just struggles, as you talked about, has been the consistency. You know, different guys at different times. Obviously Justin was very good tonight, Dean was very good last night. It just seemed like we could never get a consistent -- D.J. had a really did stretch, ten games where shot like 80% from the free-throw line, averaged 15 points, seven rebounds. And then, you know, the last two nights he had some struggles and couldn't make his free throws.

So some of it's, I guess, inexperience, youth. We've had to deal with some injuries that have not allowed us to practice and make some progress like we need to. But, you know, I think there's no doubt that's been a factor and the difference between us, you know, probably winning three more games and having 20 wins and probably being in the NCAA tournament.

Q. Coach, you mentioned the loose balls and things during this game that I guess fall under your try-hard chart. How would you have graded out on that today?
COACH WEBER: They won today, and we had beat them both times, both at their place and our place on the play hard, that's deflections, loose balls, diving on the floor and taking charges. They are very, very athletic. There's no doubt it's a factor. You come back, we played a hard-fought game last night. Now it just seemed like we were a step behind everything. And defensively, you know, that was our biggest challenge. We talked about not giving them lay-ups, and right away they got some transition, some lay-ups and got going and feeling good, and then they started jumping up and making shots. That made it tough on us, there's no doubt.

Q. Bruce, do you think last night's win maybe got you over the hump for the NIT inclusion?
COACH WEBER: I hope so. Again, you have to wait and see how these other leagues unfold. I think there's been at least four or five league champions that didn't win their tournament that get in, so each one of those hurts us. But again, we've -- outside the league we were 11-2. The two losses are North Carolina, who we played here down to the wire, and then Texas A&M down there that -- both winners of the conferences, SEC and the ACC. So we played No. 1 I don't know how many times, now three times.

And I don't know what happened with Texas Tech's R.P.I. after last night, but we thought if they won and stayed in the top 25 R.P.I., we would have 17 of our games were going to be against top 25 R.P.I., so wherever Texas ends up they are 30-something. We have 17 games in that. And there's no other team in the country that has had to do that. And we competed with them, and had overtime losses, close losses. But we just have to wait and see. I hope for their sake, for the senior's sake, it would be a nice reward for them and how they have helped our program make progress this year.

Q. How much did D.J.'s foul trouble today affect what you were trying to do?
COACH WEBER: Well, the one thing we had success last time was to get the ball inside to him, especially in the second half. You know, he got some fouls early. Stephen's also had that some big games against them. He had a couple of double-doubles and between those two, we felt that was where we could take some advantage of him. We didn't get much out of Dean.

You know, Austin Budke has played his heart out for us, but I think he is just flat out worn out. You know, the whole season took a toll on themselves, not getting as much production.

And Justin did step up, especially in the second half. I think I told him I thought he had some opportunities, we all had opportunities to make some plays at the hoop and finish up and maybe keep it closer at halftime to give us a little chance, but we didn't make those plays.

Q. What was your main defensive message to the guys when you go against a team that can it throw that much at you?
COACH WEBER: I think the big thing we talked about, their shooting percentages against us were 50 and 55 and they topped that, 57. And it was trying to limit their easy hoops, make them earn things. Again, they got a lot of transition early, that was a factor. And then they hit that little stretch there where they, you know, they made some threes. They only ended up 7 for 20, but most of that, I think their misses were when we went zone. We knew we had to play some zone, just because body-wise and number-wise there was no way we would be able to play man the whole time. And we actually had some success in it, but, you know, we don't practice it as much as we should. And hopefully -- I think next year we have to use it more of a tool, as a change of pace and give us something else to look at to change team's momentums and rhythms as the year goes on.

Q. Bruce, how much you mentioned for the seniors you would like to have the NIT bid, but how much of the younger guys to get a taste of post-season? And also, I think you are going on a trip this summer.
COACH WEBER: Yep. No doubt, any game is great experience. To play in a tournament where it's one-and-done, I think it is a good experience for our guys. I hope we don't have to end on this note. This was not a showing that we've had all year and we've been able to, for the most part, compete with everybody. But it would be helpful, you know, for the young guys to have that experience, there's no doubt.

We are going to Europe in August, so we get a couple ten days extra practice. And you can see how tough Kansas is. That trip last year, people don't understand how valuable it was. That competition, you know, what, they play 13 games, two exhibitions, 11 over there. I'm amazed, people say they're going to wear down, they are going to wear down. Shoot, they seem bouncier and playing harder than ever now, and they played all of the games and had the extra practices. But they have an older, good group. Like I say, they really play together. And you got two guards like Mason and Graham, that makes a big difference.

Q. Coach, if you do end up getting in the NIT, do you feel like it makes it a little easier yourself for potential recruits as far as building a program, or do you think that a lot of kids are so focused on trying to make the NCAA tournament that it's going to be a tougher sell?
COACH WEBER: I mean, we have some guys that have already signed commitments. But, you know, I think it's more for the program. And for these guys, they deserve it. We played in the toughest league in the country, the best R.P.I. in the history. It's these guys deserve to play,

and they just want to play in a tournament. Obviously you can say you were part of the post-season play, that's a positive for you.

And moving forward, we have a good group. We made some, I think, big strides as a program. Our young guys, people didn't know who they were coming in and two made All Newcomer Team, and the third one, Kamau, if he doesn't get hurt, maybe we get a couple, two, three more wins with him. Because he was probably playing as good as anybody.

So Wes and D.J., two returning seniors next year, played their best basketball of their career down the stretch. You know, obviously we have to get a few more guys to add to that mix. I think that's what makes Kansas so -- not only are the starters good, but it seems like the bench has made big progress. And you have Frank come in and do what he did tonight, it is tough to deal with, especially when you are worried about all of those other guys.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, I appreciate it.

COACH WEBER: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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