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March 17, 2018
Charlotte, North Carolina
THE MODERATOR: We welcome the student-athletes from Kansas State. We have from left to right, Xavier Sneed, Barry Brown Jr, and Kam Stokes.
Q. Barry, you guys had a good four days of preparation, watching film for Creighton, and now you got to turn around on 24 hours and take on a team that just dismantled one of the best college defenses out there. What are your early thoughts on this, and how do you approach this? And Xavier, if you could pipe in on this, too, with getting ready for this game.
BARRY BROWN, JR.: Well, I mean they're a great team. They share the ball really well, especially in transition, get it out, lot of different guys that can bring the ball up. So -- but the quick turnaround is something we're kind of used to. We had a Big 12 tournament. We've had games during regular season where we had the one day turnaround or play back-to-back days. It's nothing that we haven't seen before.
Q. Is there any similarity between this team and some you've seen in the Big 12?
XAVIER SNEED: Definitely Oklahoma. Get up a lot of 3s quick, especially in transition and they're a fast-paced team. So similar to Oklahoma.
Q. Kam, I'm curious if you guys, you specifically, could walk through the emotions of last night. You get the win. You know you're moving on to the second round. I'm sure it's a great celebration. At what point do you realize what's going on in that Virginia- UMBC game and what the evening was like for you guys.
KAMAU STOKES: We got back to the hotel, talking with our family and everything, and then we turned and looked at the TV and Virginia losing. Pretty sure nobody expected that, but you can't look past UMBC. They're a real good team, like Barry said, and share the ball very well.
Q. Would you be expected to march up on Lyles? He's obviously played really well. He played well against Virginia and he had the big shot in the conference tournament to win that. You expected to be matched up against him and have you watched tape on him i?
BARRY BROWN, JR.: Yeah, I mean, I watched tape on him already since last night when I found out we were going to play him because that's going to be my matchup. That's the guy I'm going to be guarding for most of the game, see where he picks his spots and what he likes to do and how he likes to score and help his team win. I've been watching film on him since last night. The scouting report tonight we're going to have and hopefully I can shut him down.
Q. Any of the three of you, the country is going to be rooting against you. They're going to be rooting for Cinderella. What's your mindset going in, saying hey, story time is over, this is basketball?
THE MODERATOR: Xavier.
XAVIER SNEED: Just come out here and play our game, be focused and be prepared. I feel like we can come out of here and get the W.
BARRY BROWN, JR.: I mean, we know that everyone is kind of looking for that Cinderella story. We just going to keep playing K-State basketball like all year and not worry about who they beat or yesterday or two days ago or whatever. We're going to play K-State basketball and respect our opponent and play and hope to win.
KAMAU STOKES: You can't look past UMBC, especially in the tournament anything can happen. You just have to prepare for them and get ready for the game.
Q. Kam, this is for you. You're a Baltimore guy. What do you know about this school, this program, growing up and coming out of high school?
KAMAU STOKES: Growing up they recruited me. I know some of the players that's there. Everybody see they play fast. I knew that. They're a real good team. Got some guys in this year that can do a lot of good things. We got to be ready for that game tomorrow.
Q. Kam, are you surprised by the contribution the last couple of games by Mike McGuirl, where his confidence come from, what do you expect from him moving forward?
KAMAU STOKES: I'm not surprised at all. He showed that in the Big 12 tournament when he came in the game and made some good plays. He's prepared for it the whole year. So, I'm not surprised at all.
Q. Barry, they like to spread the floor, dribble, penetrate. Do you see any similarities in how they attack with their guards, attack the rim kind of like what you guys do?
BARRY BROWN, JR.: Yeah, they like to get in the lane and kick a lot of roll backs and try to make the next defender help and trying to get wide open 3s. Shoot a lot of 3s. It's a big chunk of their offense and a big chunk of their points, game in and game out. We just have to contain, play some good individual defense, but still have our brother's back when they get beat, have high close-outs being put on the floor and not get the wide open 3s.
Q. Kam, just curious, their point guard, K.J., is 5'8", 140. You don't really see that too much at the division one level, quite frankly. What do you think about him as a player? Why is he able to play with the big boys of Virginia, and would it be possible for you to post him up low, given the size advantage?
KAMAU STOKES: I mean, that's all within our system. I'm going to make plays still running the system. He's a good player, you know. That's obviously why he's at the Division 1 level. Can't look past him or underestimate him. He works well with their team.
Q. I'm curious, how different is your role from the 3 to the 4 spot? Is it significantly different and which one do you enjoy playing more?
XAVIER SNEED: Interchangeable, really. I made the 4 a lot last year as well, and it's nothing really different for me and like playing different teams like this. They space out the floor. It's a little bit easier for me. I feel like it's better for the matchups for us.
Q. Barry, forgive me if this was like one of the first questions because I arrived a little bit late, but I think that 9 seeds make it to the Sweet 16 maybe 4 percent of the time. Of course, usually there's a number 1 in the way. How do you guys look at this opportunity to maybe get into a Sweet 16?
BARRY BROWN, JR.: It's a big-time opportunity for us. We still have a team in our way right now. We're not looking towards the Sweet 16 because we have to worry about the 32 that we're in right now. UMBC is in our way. All our focus, all our efforts and energy is on beating them.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions. Okay. Guys, thank you. Good job. See you tomorrow.
We'll take questions for Coach Weber.
Q. Coach, just first your reaction. I mean, I don't think anybody really expected to see what happened there with UMBC last night and, you know, I'm not sure if you guys were already scouting Virginia film or what was going on. What was reaction to what happened and your thoughts heading into Sunday?
BRUCE WEBER: Obviously it's history. It's never been done before. And not only when you think about the magnitude of it, how Virginia's year and how they dominated what I guess -- we feel like we had a good conference, but obviously they had more teams in the NCAA Tournament and they won the league and won the tournament and played at such a high level. Obviously, they lost an important player, but you think they'd be able to -- be able to survive that, but, you know, they didn't.
I told our guys, the best team on the court won. They controlled the whole second half. And I kind of beforehand, you know, motivation stuff, you know, when we talked about our bracket, Virginia is really not that good. The coaches looked at me like I was crazy. So last night after -- it was kind of a neat situation, Embassy Suites and all our fans, family, our players, all kind of watching the game when we got back and lots of cheering and stuff, and I just made sure we got them together and make sure that we understand how good they are and we got a big challenge in front of us tomorrow night.
Q. Bruce, I don't know if the parallel is exact, but back in 2002 nobody really knew who you were, you beat Texas Tech, Georgia in the tournament. How did that change your career, how did that change your life, and can you sort of sympathize with what Ryan has gone through the last 24 hours?
BRUCE WEBER: Well, one they got back really late and so many things going through, I'm sure -- I know one day I did 25 different interviews, radio stuff and different stuff. And at that time you just say yes to everything. You want some exposure for your program. And you got to give him credit. But he's been around it. Obviously I've known his dad forever. He's been around high level basketball program, high level players. He's been through the tournament. And I'm sure he'll handle it well. But it is daunting. When you do something like that, everybody wants to talk to you and have a piece of you. And I told our guys, most important thing for us, we got to be prepared. We can't worry who we play. We got to be worried about our preparation.
Q. Coach, you said a couple times this year about Mike being kind of the surprise of the summer. With that quote in mind, I'm curious about his recruiting process and then what that surprise was, what you didn't know about him when you got him on campus.
BRUCE WEBER: It was more I asked the players who was the surprise. I always say who worked the hardest. We always have our summer ending meetings and go through some stuff and who worked the hardest, who made the most improvement, who has been the biggest surprise. To the man, every player said Mike McGuirl is a surprise. I guess they -- part of it again is recruiting. They didn't much about him, wasn't as much hype. Coach Frazier kind of discovered him. We watched him that summer before his senior year. He had some recruitment but not at a high level. Picked up, he had a really good summer, got better and better. Loves his explosion, his athleticism. He's got a little bit of the cockiness to him, as you saw last night. And I just -- as I've said before, I have felt bad for him on his year. From injuries to red shirt to go not red shirting to not getting a lot of minutes that he wanted, and it's great for him to have the opportunity in Kansas game here to show what he could do and he rose up. He took advantage of the opportunity. We talk about that all the time. You never know when you're going to be called upon. You got to be ready to do it, and obviously he was last night.
Q. First of all, which of your assistants has the scout for this game? And with that, watching what they did offensively to a very good defensive team last night, what are the challenges in trying to slow down this team?
BRUCE WEBER: You know, the good thing is we face some of the best offensive teams in the country from last night Creighton to the Kansas game to TCU to Oklahoma. And so we face some of those teams so we're familiar. It starts with transition defense. They're so good in transition. Last night they had four guys that could bring it up. Now it's probably more two guys or three that can bring the ball up, but those two are really good and cause havoc for you because they can get to the paint. They're good at flipping, flipping it back for 3s. Put a lot of pressure on the defense. I thought last night was one of their better things, we grind it out on offense and played great transition defense.
Now, the little difference maybe between these guys and Creighton, they attack the paint on the close-outs. We're going to have to really do a good job of containing when -- we call it rope action or dribble action -- when they get in the paint kick and they got good 3-point shooters and again we just faced TCU, Kansas, Creighton, three in a row that are -- and these guys are three of the -- four of the top 3-point shooting teams in the country. Did a good job last night. Got to do it again tonight. For the scout we divided it up on Sunday. Coach Korn and a coach took the first game Creighton. Coach Frazier was going to help us with somebody. I said Coach Lowery, you can kind of cover everybody including UMBC. We had a little bit of stuff, but we had to work hard last night. You know, I went -- probably 3:30, 4:00 I went to bed. I know when I left, they were still up working. I think a lot of them stayed 5:00, 6:00 in the morning. But we were ready for the players when we got to breakfast. We had clip tape, we were ready for them. We started going on personnel and making sure -- the one thing I did last night and after we all -- all watching the game. I called them back to a meeting room. I had told them they could go to bed after meeting with their families and eating. I wanted them to make sure they understood the task they had and how good they were.
Q. I have a couple questions for you, Bruce. First of all, status of Dean Wade? And I have a follow-up.
BRUCE WEBER: What else? Dean did some stuff today again. You know, just little bit on the court. Just kind of see what happens. Again, I think -- if he plays, it would be a limited basis probably. But, you know, never know, miracles happen and it would be nice to have him. Obviously, we would have a nice matchup advantage if we had him inside, but we don't and it's next man up. Michael was it last night. Mak was it against Kansas. We got to have somebody else step up tomorrow night.
Q. Follow-up question. Everybody in the country is going to be rooting against you, rooting for Cinderella. How do you handle that, being the villain?
BRUCE WEBER: The coaches talked to the players about that last night, about how they wrote history. And we actually had a little saying this week is the person who wins the war, gets to write their own history. Now we kind of -- they wrote their own history last night.
Now we've talked about us. We're going to have to -- that task, we have a battle and I was a little surprised at game time, and I don't know all the logistics how they decide that, but obviously, you know, Prime Time on Sunday night, they put our game there. So like you said, I think a lot of people will be cheering for them.
Q. Opposite 60 Minutes, I think. Bruce, Greg McDermott suggested yesterday not having Dean in the lineup kind of affected them, changed you defensively and affected them. And of course you'd rather have been Dean, but are there some attributes to your defense when Dean is not on the floor in terms of perimeter defense?
BRUCE WEBER: You saw it with Virginia last night. If you play two bigs against a team that's small, you know, it's tough to matchup and they got it moving all around and they do a great job moving the basketball, getting into the paint, like we talked about.
Dean still has been -- I've said many times, he's one of our best defenders, one of our smartest defenders. The one thing we had when we played Kansas, playing small ball, we could matchup. Last night we could matchup and again I think tomorrow night we can matchup. It gives us a little bit of quickness. We actually put Kam on their 4 man yesterday but their 4 man was really -- he's a perimeter guy and he picked and popped a lot. And so in some ways we have better quickness, we have opportunity to switch things that we normally wouldn't if Dean was in there. But I promise you, the players would love to have Dean back and I know the coaches would.
Q. Coach, I wonder if you could address UMBC's backcourt with Lyles and Maura. What do you think of those two? And second part of that, with Maura being 5'8", 140 and I may be oversimplifying the game, but why don't teams just throw a point guard down there and back him down on the low post and would that be part of your strategy?
BRUCE WEBER: If you got a big enough point guard, you can get mismatches. I suppose you can do that. And I'm not sure in their league if you have big body guys that can do that -- you know, last night Tony, they run their offense and they just kept running it and they didn't have that opportunity to do that. So if we get some mismatches, we might look at that. You know, but those two guards are very good. They always say guards win in the tournament and Lyles is very similar to Marcus Foster. A guy that can create. He scores on all three levels, jump up and make the 3, get to the point, shoot a pull up. He can get to the hoop and make plays. He had some nice passes. That's the thing we showed our guys. If we overdo our help on him, he'll make the right pass.
And Morris is -- he's one of those guys you hate to play against. He pestered the heck out of Virginia, their point guards and made it tough. They had them -- they couldn't run their offense in comfort zones because that first pass was way out on the court. And so the good thing with us, hopefully, we have three different ball handlers with our lineup now, so I said this is not an ego thing, this is a smart thing. Whoever he's guarding, get down the court and let somebody else bring the ball up. We'll have to deal with them, but he's so clever, he can score, he's a great distributor, he creates and gets in the paint and causes problems. He's definitely a little pest that you got to deal with.
Q. If I understood you correctly, you said earlier in the week as kind of a motivational point with the team, you told them Virginia is not that good. And then for them last night you're calling the team back in after Virginia loses. How is that tinkered with or does it tinker in any way with just motivation, psychology?
BRUCE WEBER: I actually told them, I said it last night, I'm pretty smart. I told you Virginia is not very good (laughter). I just played off of it. I'm not sure all of them got it, but -- you know, you're looking for things. I was staying up Sunday night after the pairings, and they had George Mason and CVU and talked about a lot of psychological things they did beforehand and just kind of prepping them. And I said we got to focus on Creighton. If we don't beat Creighton, it doesn't do any good. If we get there, I just said I don't think they're that good. The coaches are like throwing things at me and stuff.
You just kind of play with their minds a little bit and last night I did again. Hey, they're not that good, but this other team is really good. We got to be ready for them.
Q. Coach, I imagine Barry is going to have the assignment of stopping Lyles. What do you see in that? Is he close enough to Foster that Barry can do the job? What's your expectation of that matchup?
BRUCE WEBER: Like I said, they are very similar. The older guards that know how to create and they got that step back 3, they can get from the paint. They use isos him. He's good in transition. So, it's similar. Barry stayed up last night, he wanted to watch tape. We sent him some synergy stuff. We wanted him to go to bed. This morning he put a little time in watching again. And that's why we've been successful is that our guys prepare and they care and want to do a good job. Hopefully they're all cut in. That will be the big thing. We had great team defense last night. Barry was big time and Xavier was big time on Thomas, but they had a lot of help from a lot of guys.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, what does it say overall that it actually happened that a 16th seed has beaten a number 1? Has the parity gotten that much better and why?
BRUCE WEBER: I think there's no doubt the parity and somebody brought up my Southern Illinois team and that -- I think since that time, you know, the early 2000s, you know, everybody has jumped up and some of it you could say the one-and-dones, losing some of the top kids, you know, early that aren't getting the opportunity to play. Older players win, they got older guys, you, know, and they got athleticism and quickness and great guards. I said it before, you know, always been said, guards win in the tournament and make the plays. When you have experience, older guards, guys that can make plays, gives you a chance.
But it had to be the right story. I think obviously it doesn't happen, first time in whatever it is, 300-some games. It had to be the right story. Virginia loses somebody. The matchups, again, you talk about when you get in a tournament how are your matchups. And there's no doubt there's more and more parity in college basketball. You see Buffalo, Arizona, whatever, there's always Loyola winning the other day, so it's fun. It's what makes March Madness special.
Q. Bruce, their point guard, I would assume would, be the smallest player in the Big 12 at least in terms of height. Did you scout that in any way? Did you prepare the guys for that size?
BRUCE WEBER: I said before kind of -- it's that little pest, the guy you go on the playground you hate to play against because he's everywhere and makes plays and he'll steal the ball off you, he'll drive you, flip it back over his shoulder for a 3. He just does a lot of different things. We said you look at him, you got to respect him because he can play. It's going to be a key matchup for us tomorrow, how we deal with him, and obviously Lyles is really good but Maura definitely creates for everybody else and makes them go.
THE MODERATOR: Other questions? Okay. Thank you.
BRUCE WEBER: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports