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October 24, 2018

Bruce Weber

Kansas City, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Coach Weber, welcome. Your opening thoughts?

BRUCE WEBER: Morning, everybody. Obviously this is a time where all coaches are excited. We're about halfway through our practices, get third days of practice and I think we're at number 17 and the guys are anxiously awaiting getting into games.

I know we've seen the exhibition games started, scrimmages started, but as a coach this is an important time of the year and you're building your foundation of your team which I think is going to last through the season.

You're always excited at this time, but for us probably a little more fun for us because we have a lot of veterans back. We have some experienced seniors in Barry Brown, Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes who have started since their freshmen year, you have the experience factor and the leadership of shows guys, probably as good of leaders as I've ever coached and they're all good workers, which helps us. Then we have, I don't know, what -- basically the whole team back and many of them started on a team that went to the Elite Eight.

It's exciting, but every team is different. We're going through the learning process, figuring out, you know, each role and who the other guys are going to be. We will see what happens, but it's a fun time of the year and we're excited, looking forward to hopefully an exciting season for K-State basketball.

Q. Bruce, the Big 12 announced the scheduling agreement that's going to start with the Big East next season. What do you think about that? I guess the Big 12 is going to have both the SEC Challenge and this and I know you have had trouble with non-conference scheduling. Can you wrap all that up in some comments?
BRUCE WEBER: I think it's great for the league. When Jeff Jackson came on and John Underwood left the league, retired, we're going to miss John, but that's one of the things that Jeff asked, what do you need help with and scheduling was one of the definite things, especially with the bigger leagues, the mega leagues going to 20 games, which means, you know, RPI is kind of going out. But you're still going to have some type of scheduling mechanism and strength of schedule will be there.

We can't expand. We already play everyone twice which the other leagues don't do which makes it tough for us and we have to find another vehicle to get a tough game. Get the SEC game, you hope you have a home game one year and have the Big East game on the road and it rotates the next year. We will see if that works out. It gets us to 20 games and gives us an opportunity to match what the mega leagues are doing with the 20-game schedule. I know our scheduling is hard. Fans want teams to come to Manhattan. It's not easy for us to do.

This will definitely help us get a positive home game into non-conference for our fans and for our team.

Q. Multiple schools in this league have been connected to the FBI investigation and trial in New York and I'm curious if you have any concerns about a level playing field in this league as a result?
BRUCE WEBER: I'm not sure about just the league. It's nationwide. Obviously there have been some issues and I guess for me it's sad for the business. At the same time, it's like anything else, if there is a problem, hopefully we can get it fixed. Our game is special. I've been involved in it forty years. It's been my life, and I'm proud to be involved with it. I can't worry about what other people do. I just worry about what we do. We try to do it right and I think we got good players. We've got good kids. So we've got an opportunity to be successful and that's what we're really focused on.

At the same time, the game is important to me and I want things corrected if it can be and hopefully it will be in the future.

Q. With the ups and downs of your time in Manhattan, Bruce, right now seems like your popularity is at an all-time high with the fan base. What's it like to see that change so rapidly in the way that it has?
BRUCE WEBER: I don't worry about it as much as you guys do, probably. I just worry about our kids and being prepared and ready to play. There is always people that don't like you. Judd told me many times when you get a job 99% of the people like you and 10% don't and each year it's going to go down and it's going to get tougher and tougher. I always think of Judd when you have negative things happen. As a coach if you worry about every negative fan and every media person you're not going to be able to coach.

I just worry about coaching. Everybody says how do you deal with it. Very rarely does somebody come up to me in the grocery store and say, God, you suck as a coach. No one does! Those people are the faceless opinion guys that, you know, continually say stuff but they don't ever do it to somebody's face.

I've thought it's always been positive for me at Manhattan. We've got great fans. Obviously they're excited about our team. We've got an older group that made a nice run. It's always fun when people like you. It's human nature. But at the same time I just worry about helping the players do their best.

Q. Bruce, when you had your Media Day in Manhattan a few weeks back you made a comment about how you were surprised that Kansas State wasn't getting more preseason respect, but now that you see you're second in the poll here in the conference and 12 overall does your opinion change?
BRUCE WEBER: It doesn't matter. At the same time I kind of laugh. My whole point then was we have everyone back and we went to the Elite Eight and we went to the Elite Eight without supposedly the preseason Player of the Year in the Big 12.

Why shouldn't we be in the top-10 or whatever? It is what it is and we can't worry about it. We've got to worry about our play and getting ready for our opening game.

We've got good players. Just a little disappointed. Dean was, if you think about it, he was the only underclassman on the First Team All-Big 12 last year and Barry was second team. So two underclassman in an unbelievable league, probably the toughest league I've been a part of. To me I don't think they've gotten as much national recognition as they should because they're two of the best underclassmen in the best league in the country. So why aren't you getting that publicity?

I don't think they care. They're just driven to be good players and that's important for me, how hard they work and how they're getting our team ready.

Q. You mentioned Dean Wade obviously preseason Player of the Year. Can you describe for me what Dean has meant to this program and what his legacy could be by the time he leaves Kansas State?
BRUCE WEBER: I think the legacy will be if we have a successful season. That's anything. People remember if you win. Obviously he wasn't part of the Elite Eight run which I feel horrible about, and I think it was a driving force for him coming back and if there was indecision of putting his name in last year with the injury that he wanted to be part of that.

But I appreciate his development and you watched him freshman year, he had some nice moments but he had a lot of tough moments and fans were on him. Each year he's gotten better. His confidence last year in the Big 12 I thought was at an all-time high. I laugh, Bomba, when they interviewed him at the combine, they asked him who was the toughest player you played against and he said Dean Wade, and you ask coaches who was the toughest player to defend is and they say Dean Wade. He's a tough player, but he's also a great human being. Just a good representative of K-State so you're proud of him in a lot of ways. Barry, Dean and Kam have a chance to leave a nice legacy. What they did for our program. We had to throw them into the fire as freshmen and they took their lumps and we have a chance now to be hopefully one of the top teams in the country.

Q. You talked about Dean Wade a little bit and the national recognition, but when you see a player like him be named the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year and not get a single vote for the AP for being an All-American, how does that make you feel as a coach?
BRUCE WEBER: That goes back to the question. Somebody is not watching or paying attention but I think a little bit of it is he didn't get to be part of that run so people nationally didn't get to see him. It bothered me a little bit. I'm sure it doesn't bother Dean at all because I don't think he pays attention to that. But I guess going back to the previous question, that was my question. I'm not sure how can that be?

But all he can do is have great senior year. That's the most important thing, same with Barry and Kam. They just want our team to be successful. They lived through run last year and saw how much fun it was and how much exposure you got and I know they want to have a nice season and leave a nice legacy for K-State basketball.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, good luck for the season.

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