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October 23, 2019

Bruce Weber

Kansas City, Missouri

BRUCE WEBER: Obviously we're all excited to be here, start of the season, earlier than ever for us. We open up our first exhibition game Friday night, another one, then open up November 5th.

For us as a team, it's an interesting season. Obviously we lost a lot of points, rebounds, assists, steals, everything that you could have to deal with as a coach. But we do have some experience back. Three guys that started on an Elite 8 team, started on a Big 12 championship team. I wouldn't say we're as much a young team as we are a new team.

We have to go through some growing situations as a new team trying to figure out roles, who is going to get the extra minutes, who is going to be the guy putting up the shots.

I think my biggest fear is the gut-check part of games, the close games, who is going to make those plays. The last two, three years it went to Barry Brown, Dean Wade, Kam Stokes stepped up, made shots. Now we have to have some other people do that.

It will be interesting. It's fun. We have a great group. They play their butts off. We're looking forward to Friday night, see what our guys are like in the live competition.

Q. In a game like Friday, this team is not young, but different and new, what are you looking to accomplish?
BRUCE WEBER: Big thing is just getting in front of people, play against somebody else. We'll probably script the minutes more than anything, I would hope, to get some guys experience, maybe the second one try to get into rotations so you're ready for the game on November 5th.

I know they're looking forward to it. We had the live scrimmage the other day before the football game, which was good to play in front of people. When you have new guys, the freshmen, you have guys that are more in the focal point of our team, it's a little different.

I think playing in front of a crowd will be a positive thing for us to learn and grow.

Q. We didn't get a chance to talk to you when the polls were out. You were ninth in the pre-season poll. You're the defending Big 12 champions.
BRUCE WEBER: The predictions, obviously it's not great for your fans and selling tickets. At the same time, for us, it doesn't matter. Every year there's somebody that's picked eighth or ninth, seventh that ends up being in the top of the league, that ends up, like Texas Tech, playing for a national championship. Whatever it might be, its always happens.

The other year we were picked eighth, ended up in the Elite 8. It doesn't matter. It's what happens every day in practice, our guys' mindset, their belief, their confidence, their growth is so important.

Q. You had some guys recently, Xavier, the latest go through the NBA Draft process. For a coach, what kind of things do you hope they're going to hear that's going to make them better when they decide not to stay in the draft?
BRUCE WEBER: I think it is a stressful situation. I kept talking to Xavier about just smiling, enjoying the process, enjoying college. He has a chance to get a business degree, and leave a legacy at K-State.

At the same time, I know what his dreams and goals are, like a lot of the guys. You hope you get good feedback. I think that's the one thing I'll get the feedback from, from the different scouts or coaches, player personnel people that I know at different teams.

Coming from me to them, I'm not sure they always trust it. That's a tough thing. I guess my hope would be the NBA, when they go through this process, that they would give them better feedback, whether it's an email or whatever.

I've been through it a long time, kids putting their names in. I've learned to be positive about it, let them enjoy it, because I got into as a young coach, Why are you doing this? It's dumb. They're telling us this. Then you lose your relationship with the young man, with the family.

You try to be as positive as possible, talk to them, help them grow, learn and get something out of it. It's hard. It's hard for him to come back. He was stressed. It was a long stretch. He did a bunch of workouts that wore him out.

Even coming back now, there's a lot of pressure on him. He has dreams and goals, but I keep talking about enjoy it, make the most of every day. Worry about the process, don't worry about the destination. If you do that, it's meant to be, it's going to happen.

Everybody's path -- had Rodney McGruder go through the G League, end up on a roster, now a three-year $50 million contract. I've seen a lot of things happen. If you believe you're good enough, put the time in, the work in, good things will happen.

Q. Did you learn anything from coaching USA Basketball? Did you bring anything different from that to this upcoming season?
BRUCE WEBER: I was pretty happy and pleased, obviously not only won a gold, we won by a big margin, if you look at the plus-minus. Somebody asked me this a while ago. What we do is good, and it works.

I think the thing I learned, you're always learning as a coach, trying to figure out roles. We had to do this in two weeks, get them to not only figure out a role, take pride in the role and make the most of that. It wasn't easy.

The guys we had from the Big 12 on our team were unbelievable, Tyrese, Isaac were unbelievable role models, they were great leaders, they really helped us. Kept trying to help me as a coach. Stay patient, we'll be okay (smiling).

It was obviously a great experience. To be part of that, you know, a little bit of the fast pace of FIBA basketball is different.

I think as a coach you're always learning things. We've added some new sets that we saw that the international teams have used. I think all of that is a positive thing.

Just a great experience. I'm sure those guys, if you talked to them, lifetime memories. Got to be very proud they have a gold medal.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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