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March 13, 2017

Bruce Weber

Dayton, Ohio

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Kansas State coach Bruce Weber.

COACH WEBER: Obviously it's been a hectic 24 hours after seeing our name pop up on the TV. But we're just really excited to be here to be part of it.

Our kids, our players, our staff, we fought through a lot of tough things this year, the ups and downs of the season, the injuries, the tough losses, heartbreaking losses. Just Coach Lowery's son passing. And our guys kept their faith. They persevered and we had a great finish to the season.

And I really do believe we belong in the tournament. I think we've shown that we can compete with anybody in the country. We've beaten some of the top teams. And we're just excited to be part of it. I think our guys will be ready to play.

Q. Coach, the guys seem to vary from a lot of knowledge on Wake Forest to I don't know anything about them. How do you handle a scout with a team like this with so little time?
COACH WEBER: Well, one of the things I told them last night, in this 24-hour period we've gotta become the best-prepared team on the court tomorrow night.

I think that will be a key. They saw the film the first time before practice today. We did some walk-through, we'll get back together tonight, watched the scout tape again, go through the scouting report -- names, numbers, all that stuff.

You can't go through everything. You just don't have enough time. But hopefully we're prepared because of all the teams we played, you know, everyone runs somewhat similar actions. They might have something similar to Kansas or something similar to somebody else and that's where we're going to relate to them.

And then it's just -- then some of it is just playing basketball. I told them I want to be prepared. I want them to come with reckless abandon. I don't want them to have any regrets at 11:15 tomorrow night. Leave it all on the court.

Q. What do you remember about Danny Manning the player? And how unusual is it to see a guy that had his stature as a player move on and now being a head coach on the other end?
COACH WEBER: I've gotten to know him a little bit as he's gotten into the coaching profession and I've enjoyed him. I've enjoyed his wife, his family, just good people. And that -- I think his character is one of the number one things is I've got to know him, quality person. And when you have success as a player, some of those guys, they don't have the patience to be a coach. They don't have the commitment. And obviously he does. And I think he's great for the game. He's great for the profession.

As a player, it goes back to, I was an assistant at Purdue. We were one of the top seeds and we played Kansas State ironically, hoping to play Kansas in the Silverdome, still remember it very well. And we had beaten Kansas State by 25 or something earlier in the year. And they got us and we never got -- never got a chance to play Danny and Kansas. But great player and just -- and obviously a great individual. So it's good to have him in our profession.

Q. You kind of mentioned this a little bit but do you similarities what Wake does with maybe what Kansas does or do they remind you of any team you have played?
COACH WEBER: They do some of the stuff. Obviously Danny was with Bill for a while and I think he's taken a few of the things that fit his players and use them. Obviously getting the ball inside to John Collins, different ways to do that. They run the two game at times. They do some ball screens and get it inside.

And maybe a little more -- Kansas is up tempo this year, but Bill's always had great pride in defense, and I think that's been one of his reasons he's been so successful over the long haul. This group seems very offensive minded, kind of in a way what Kansas is this year. But we've got to stop them. We've got to get back transition. I think it's going to be key.

And then limiting those easy post touches and easy post entries where they can get -- we've got to protect the paint. We did a great job last week in the Big 12 Tournament against two teams that pride themselves, get it inside, Baylor and West Virginia. So it's great prep for this game.

Q. What do you think it says about this team to go on the run they did over the last two weeks when their back was against the wall the weekend before that?
COACH WEBER: I think it says a lot about them, their character, their desire, their determination, their togetherness. I think all those things that -- and our staff too. I think they've all done a great job of staying texting with them, encouraging them, telling them to hang in there, and then we were rewarded for it.

I'm proud of them. I've said it many times. We enjoy coaching them. There are times when I would like them to play a little better and a little more consistent, but it's a good group to be part of it. I'm happy for them to have the opportunity. Now we've gotta do something with it.

Q. Coach, Wes came in with such a big group recruiting class, was the lone guy now to stick it out. What does it mean that he stuck that out? And how have you seen him grow the whole time he's been here?
COACH WEBER: I think he's made a big jump this last stretch of the season, and I think he -- all of a sudden it hit him: This is it. And you see it, we talked about it in our league -- Naz Long, Motley, different players in the league have just, that last ten games -- Carter from West Virginia -- kind of taken their teams on their back. And Wes has done that for us.

But I think Wes' background, his family -- I told you guys, he was in that crossroads in kind of his life. And do you go with this group and it's the wrong turn, or do you stay on the straight and narrow? And he made that decision. I think, I would hope he would say he's happy he did that. He's had a great career. He's done things people haven't done in K-State history, starts 1,000, 500, 300, 100 with the points, rebounds, steals and assists.

And now to get back to the tournament, I couldn't be more happy for him and D.J., that they get this opportunity, and again they deserve it.

Q. Does this team at all use being the last at-large pick as motivation or are there enough motivational factors otherwise?
COACH WEBER: I think they're just happy to get in and be part of it. We kind of prepped them. I started talking about it two weeks ago and just, hey, if we get -- if we're part of that last four, it doesn't matter. You're in the tournament. You have an opportunity. And we dealt with LaSalle a few years who came through here and beat Boise and got us and played very loose and free.

You've watched VCU. Coach Smart did an unbelievable job. That was the year I don't think they even got together as a group. They didn't think they had any chance of being in the tournament and they end up in the Final Four.

So we prepped them about it, and I don't even think they, maybe they know because they get on Twitter and all that stuff, but -- that they were the last one. I think they're just happy to be part of it. And now we have to play with that determination we did the last few weeks and throughout the season. It's not like we've only played good basketball for two weeks.

We've had some pretty good moments during the season. We just haven't had the consistency and haven't won some of those close games that we wouldn't even be worried about playing tonight or tomorrow night. We'd be a much higher seed figuring some things out. We were that close.

Q. Feel like a lot of talk when it comes to Wake Forest has been on their big guy, Collins. What about their roster strikes you --
COACH WEBER: Crawford is very good, their guard. He can go. He transitions. He's good. Then they've got those shooters. Those other big guys are pretty good shooters. They spread you out. They get you in roll and replace, where the one big who can shoot comes out on the court and then they dive Collins in there and they get you spread out.

And they get you in transition. They get you inside. And then they can get you with space and make open shots. So we're going to have to guard.

Kansas could really score. You looked at what they've done this year, scoring-wise, maybe it's as the season went on, our league, seemed a little tougher to score the ball, but first time around against them they were scoring at a high level. Iowa State scores at a high level. They don't have quite the inside presence that they do. But we faced some people that have played at this pace. They play at a good pace.

Q. You had your back against the wall earlier in the year. How successful do you view your stay at the Big 12 Tournament? And how have you and your players built off that success?
COACH WEBER: Well, I thought our guys came with the determination to win the Big 12 Tournament, and obviously had a great win against Baylor. We led West Virginia, I don't know how, 37, 38 minutes, whatever it was, maybe longer, I don't know, and we played good basketball.

We just didn't make a play or two and they did down the stretch. So I think they -- we were disappointed but they felt good that we competed.

We guarded people. We're going to have to have that same determination that we did that last couple of weeks of the season. We played at a high level. The other thing, we've got to share the basketball. And we gotta make the right plays. When we do that and play hard and guard, we're a pretty good team.

Q. Probably asked you this to begin the season, but the conundrum that's Dean Wade, can you put a finger on him and his entire the sophomore year?
COACH WEBER: That's Ernie Barrett's favorite wine, Conundrum. I've bought him several bottles in his life, well, my life around him. I talked to Dean yesterday because the week before he was really good at TCU, Texas Tech. Then last week at the tournament he just didn't play with confidence. And the one thing he has done, guys maybe play tentative but he guarded Motley and he battled them. He guarded their big guys. He's played great post D. He's fought and rebounded and done all those things.

Obviously it would be nice if he -- because he can give us a whole different dynamic to our team when he's spreading the court, making shots. He's one of our better passers. He can go make plays at the hoop. He just gives us so much more versatility than when he's connected. I don't know the word, whatever -- confident, connected, playing with that.

And I thought against West Virginia he made that first shot, no one was scoring and he got a shot down, I thought: Ah, I was so happy. Yes, he's going to get going. And he made a few baskets and we'll see. I didn't think before TCU he would play, jump up and shoot and he played one of his best games of his career.

I hope he surprises me and everybody else and has a great run here because he's a good kid. And I've talked about it. I wish he would be there right now. I know some day he's going to be a really, really good player. It's taken a little longer than maybe we've all had the patience for.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Good luck tomorrow night. FastScripts by ASAP Sports

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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