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March 20, 2008

Michael Beasley

Frank Martin

Bill Walker


THE MODERATOR: Kansas State Wildcats are first. We'll ask Coach Frank Martin to make a statement on the game and we'll have questions for just the student athletes before we dismiss them.
COACH MARTIN: Just unbelievable for our guys to be able to beat a team like Southern Cal, a team that I'm telling you I must have watched 15 of their games over the past three days, a team that's just -- they're good. There's no other way to explain it.
And for our guys to come out and stick to the game plan, stick to the things that we've been talking about for the past three days in preparation for this game today, that's what the Big 12 does for you, playing Kansas, playing Texas, playing schools of that nature, for our young guys going into Kansas and having to play in that environment, that kind of a basketball game against that kind of a basketball team, you know, assisted us in preparing us to come in here and succeed.
And, you know, that's what it's all about this time of year. You've got to figure out a way to survive, score one more point than the other team and that gives you life. That allows you to practice the next day and play one more. And that's all you want to do here.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Bill Walker or Michael Beasley.

Q. Bill, talk about your fast start. You had 12 points in the first 10 minutes. USC had 12 points in the first 10 minutes. How important was that to you?
BILL WALKER: We just had to keep the production up once Mike got in foul trouble. And that's probably been our problem all year. We haven't produced when Mike goes down. Keep it close and manage the game until he could come back and be a factor.

Q. Bill, USC had outrebounded its opponents in each of the last eight games and you outrebounded them today, 44-27, including eight by Anderson. How do you explain that?
BILL WALKER: Just that intensity. We wanted to get every loose ball, dominate the boards. When you do that, you control the game. When we've been good, we've outrebounded guys.

Q. Did you guys see that as an area where you guys could get a leg up on USC, did you see that as a weakness?
BILL WALKER: No, that's what we do. We try to make that our stamp, go get every rebound, go get every loose ball.

Q. Michael, you got the two quick fouls, looked like the first half Coach was doing offense for defense substitution, you kept going in and out. How did you handle that, keeping your head in the game, coming out and then going back in, was that difficult at all?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: No, we've been in that situation before. I just listen to Coach. He's a very smart guy. He's a veteran coach. And he never steers us in the wrong direction.
I was just doing what Coach told me to and staying in the game, keeping my composure.

Q. Can you two guys talk about the different defenses you faced and what you did to counter act it?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: We did what he told us to do. Like I said, he never steered us wrong. It worked out for us tonight.
BILL WALKER: Hit us with a box and one. If Mike was out of the game, they box and one me, if we both were in the game, they just stayed on him. Basically sets them at a disadvantage because we have to make two guys guard Mike we rather teams do that freeze us up to make plays and opens up the lane.

Q. Michael, could you talk about your thoughts at halftime and how you came back almost with a different purpose after the break, talking about what you did afterwards?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: My thoughts at halftime was, I mean, I was a little excited. We had a 10-point lead but I was still humble. I just came out the second half and played the game.
I didn't try to force anything. I didn't get too anxious. I just played within the team.

Q. Michael, can you talk a little bit about Bill in the first half, especially with you in the foul trouble and also with them box and one on you?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I got into -- I got two quick fouls. Bill stepped it up. We needed it.
He was our spark tonight. He was hot. We got him the ball, he finished, he did what he do.

Q. Mike, I remember upon the announcement we mentioned to you the last time Kansas State had won an NCAA tournament game was in '88. You said that was the year before I was born. Can you talk about what, maybe the pride that you both have in bringing the first win in 20 years, NCAA tournament to Kansas State?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: It's nice to have one win, but it's better to have two or three. We're happy about this one. We're excited that we brought the first win in 20 years. But it don't stop there. This game is erased this game is history we're going for the next one.

Q. Bill, it seemed like the whole team played with a different, more positive spirit and energy throughout the whole game. Could you sense that, a difference between the second half of the season?
BILL WALKER: Yeah, I mean, we just stopped them playing, stopped them wishing for things. Just went out there and made things happen.
Guys want to win and we just all bought into Frank's going real hard in practice these last two practices. It's changed the way we play. It's brought an intensity and it's given us new life. That's how we feel.
No one picked us to win a game in this tournament. And we feel like we have our backs against the wall and we can play loose, but we have a chip on our shoulder.

Q. Could either one of you guys talk about how you played off the energy of what seemed to be a very Kansas State crowd?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: We're close to home. A lot of fans made the drive out here. It just made it feel like a home game. They were all chanting our name. It just felt good to know we have people behind our back.

Q. Bill, can you talk about just how good this win feels?
BILL WALKER: Well, I mean, any win feels good. But this one was kind of special. Because I know I was going against a guy who didn't want to lose to me tonight. So that added something to it. But it's a tournament game, man. Survive and advance. That's what we did. So great feeling, great win. We're ready for the next one.

Q. O.J. didn't have a great shooting night. Did you sense any frustration on his part, was he saying anything out there?
BILL WALKER: He didn't get frustrated. He's the type of player if he gets a good look, he's on fire. I knew that. I just kept telling guys just get a hand in his face, force him into some tough shots. But he's the guy who has been through the fire before. He's not going to lose his composure because he's not making shots. You see he made several great plays. He's always setting up other players.
So it's kind of hard to say he had a bad shooting night and he's frustrated.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about the change you've noticed in Coach Martin just in the last two or three days since the end of the Big 12 tournament and how that maybe helps you out tonight?
BILL WALKER: Just wants to win. We want to win too. He's got that fire, too. He's a different guy. He's got it. He wants to win. That's all I can say.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: Yeah, he had the fire in his eyes before practice, while we're eating breakfast, on the way to the gym. And to see him so enthusiastic and with all this intensity, it makes us step up our game a little more.

Q. Mike, talk about Ron Anderson tonight and what he brought to you guys?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: He played like I never seen before. He was there when we needed him. He just played hard. I mean, that's what we've been telling him all season, when you get that break you just gotta play hard.
But he was real great. He had a couple of offensive rebounds, couple of key rebounds and key buckets.

Q. Mike, y'all beat Kansas early in the year, big victory, and then the play kind of slid. Can you guys handle this success, come back on Saturday, duplicate this performance?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: Definitely. Like I said, this one is history. We're back to the basics. We got practice tomorrow. We'll go as hard as we can and try to get another one.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time. We'll dismiss you and stay with Coach Martin for a while longer.

Q. Frank, that positive energy that Bill and I were talking about, it seemed to mirror your coaching style tonight. It just seemed more positive, more relaxed, and your team mirrored you. Did you sense that?
COACH MARTIN: You know, I worked for a guy, Bob Huggins, had one of the greatest quotes I've ever heard: If the players play better, then I can be more positive.
And, you know, I hear all this about our team having a slide the second half of the year. I don't know how many of you guys cover our team that watch us play every game we play. When we played Oklahoma State at home I had two walk-ons playing almost 30 minutes of that game. We had three starters out for 10 practices right in the middle of conference season.
Any team in the country loses three starters in the middle of conference play with seven freshmen and nine first-year guys, they're going to have to slide a little bit for lack of better words because of the lack of consistency in practice. That's just going to happen. I don't care. You name the team. You take three starters away for a 10-day period in the middle of your conference season, you can't be as consistent as you were before.
That's the first part. The second part, I've got 18-year-old guys in my locker room. We're missing three starters. If I run them into the ground in the middle of conference season, we have no way of succeeding at this time of year.
And we practiced hard. We didn't practice as long. The problem was the three guys that played integral minutes for us tonight, Andre Gilbert, Clent Stewart, Dominique Sutton, three guys that played major minutes for us did not practice. It's hard to be consistent in the game of basketball and in any sport that you play at this level, if you don't have the constant repetitions and game repetitions that keep you sharp.
That's kind of what happened to us. But to answer your question, Jason, I'm always positive. I'm an intense guy. I want our guys to be intense.
You know, you guys see the 40 minutes that's in front of you guys. You don't see what happens the other 23 hours and 20 minutes of the day. I'm about people succeeding. You don't work in a school system for 16 years in the inner city and help kids succeed your whole life in the same neighborhood that you grew up in unless you're about helping people succeed.
But it's that time of year where the life lessons, the season lessons that you spend all year teaching, it's not time for that right now. That's what I told the kids the whole week leading into this game.
Win or lose, I was going to be a proud basketball coach today because these kids have given me everything that they can give me and believed in me from day one.
And because of that I didn't care what the score was today. These kids were not going to be judged by me in a negative way if we wouldn't have succeeded tonight.
But because of that, at this time of year, they understood the message that I spent three days telling them. It started Sunday night after the Selection show. And that was that all the lessons to be learned are over. It's about whether you get 20 seconds in the game or you get 20 minutes in the game.
It's about making as much of a contribution in that amount of time as you can to help your team. And that's what we did.
And for the first time all year leading into the Texas A&M game last week -- I shouldn't say first time all year -- first time since the middle of conference season we've had a healthy roster. We had Dominique Sutton back to 100 percent. We had Andre Gilbert back in the flow of things. We had Clent Stewart, who we all know what he went through, finally just relaxing and allowing himself to compete the way he was before the experience that he had.
And that's allowed us to continue our preparation for tonight's game.

Q. Did you get the defenses you expected from USC tonight and how did you respond to them?
COACH MARTIN: We've seen them all. People need to understand, Bill Self, Rick Barnes, Doc Sadler, those guys can coach basketball now. Those guys devised all kinds of stuff to guard Mike, to guard Bill, to guard our basketball team. To our guys' credit, they've learned. They didn't just go out in games and play and go, come back the next day and forgot what they saw. They've learned and we've been able to continue that in practice.
That's what I mean by playing in the Big 12, it prepared us for all these different things and schemes people throw at us that we can go out there and execute.

Q. Frank, obviously first win in 20 years, NCAA tournament history for Kansas State. Talk about that and also how important it was for Bill to do what he did today?
COACH MARTIN: You know, you asked Mike about he wasn't born in '88. In '88 I lost a heart-breaking state quarter-final game when we were No. 1 in the state I still don't forget that day. So 1988 wasn't a fun year for me. But what was your question again (laughter)?

Q. (Off microphone)?
COACH MARTIN: We got here two years ago, and I didn't know much of the history of K State. And the more I researched it, the more impressed I was with the unbelievable history. Street & Smith ranked it as the 22nd most successful basketball program in the history of college basketball. When I start realizing the incredible success this school has had, it gave me like hope that we can do this.
And then we obviously went to the situation last spring with the coaching change, which we all are familiar with. But the one thing we have is incredible tradition.
And when you can have tradition, you can sell. And when you can go out and recruit guys like the two guys that were sitting next to me, people are willing to listen: Wow, why are those guys going to school there, which opens doors for you.
It's something I'm extremely happy for. I'm extremely happy for President Wefald and Bob Cross and for all the people that are alumnis at K State that support basketball the way they have for so many years, and we can go out and provide them with what they're used to seeing for years and years and years.

Q. Frank, how gratifying was it to see the contributions from your players not named Beasley and Walker tonight, especially during a key stretch in the second half?
COACH MARTIN: That's why we've grown as a team. That's where our depth comes in. That's where the experience, that's where if you want to call it the ranting and raving, it's no different than raising a child. We've got seven freshmen out there. Seven. And the difference between seniors and freshmen is consistency.
It's my job to get those freshmen. Because let's be honest here, who showed our freshmen the way? We don't have anybody on our team. The only guy that had the opportunity to show our freshmen the way was David Hoskins. We haven't had him for a single day. Clent Stewart was injured preseason. He wasn't around. Then he goes through his troubling experience. He wasn't around.
So we don't have guys to show our freshmen the way. So our freshmen had to learn by just being in front of people. They didn't have those seniors to kind of help them understand how the thing goes and it's to our guys' credit that they've stayed the course. They keep believing in each other. And they go out and as a result you get Ron Anderson, Blake Young. How about Blake Young with seven rebounds today? Just the effort and the energy that he played with helped our team.

Q. The coaches talk about the 50-50 balls in the game. Seemed like you got 100 percent of the 50-50s tonight. Is that a product of what you guys have been doing recently in practice? Why did that happen?
COACH MARTIN: That's what I'm all about. If you ever saw one of my high school teams play that's the way it was. There's not a loose ball or rebound that we should not go get. And we were doing that right in the middle of our conference season.
There's a reason we were 8-2 in first place in conference play. And then we had to deal with some stuff that made us a little inconsistent. It's hard to do some things in practice when you've only got seven or eight healthy bodies. It's difficult. It's difficult to do some of the same things.
You know we've got back to those things before A&M. Against A&M we didn't play as sharp and we didn't make jump shots. We came out tonight and we played a little sharper and we made more jump shots. And we came up with those balls.
And I worked for a guy named Bob Huggins. You want to talk about drills to come up with 50-50 balls, I've learned plenty over the last few years.

Q. Frank, USC overcame the 10-point lead took the lead at 48-47 on Mayo's steal and layup. Did you see your kids blink or gulp at that point, think it was a tipping point in the game?
COACH MARTIN: You mean did they kind of panic a little bit? No, no, not at all. Our guys, it's like I told you: I told our guys for three days, the outcome of this game wasn't going to change my opinion of our basketball team. We talked about staying the course. The game's played for 40 minutes. And all we wanted to do was continue to play.
They've got good players. They have a good basketball coach. They're not going to lay there and lose by 20. That's not going to happen. They're going to make their run. We talked about it at halftime. They came out and did what we expected them to do.
And we kind of stayed the course, stayed the course, and I think our depth kind of became a problem there for them somewhere in the middle of that second half.

Q. Frank, could you talk about the way you nurtured Mike with the two fouls in the first half going offense, defense a lot of the time down the stretch?
COACH MARTIN: That's a credit to Michael Beasley. That's a credit to him. If you guys that remember seeing us play George Mason, you know, back whenever it was, seemed like it was six years ago, back in November, he picked up two early fouls that game.
One thing I am is I'm very stubborn. I've never played guys with two fouls in the first half. And I took him out. We went from being up 6 to down 10 at the half.
And at that point I told myself: I've got to find a way to be able to reinsert him in games. I can't just sit him. Because, number one, he's too good of a basketball player. That's for starters. Number two, he's too important to our basketball team.
But it's a credit to him that he's made me trust that I can do that. Because there's some players you can't put them back in the basketball game, because they stop defending. They stop rebounding. They stop doing the things that they're supposed to do because they don't want to foul.
Well, Mike has proven to me, and I've developed unbelievable trust, that he can play with those fouls. So I just gotta be careful how I sub him in and out.

Q. Frank, can you talk a little bit about Bill Walker tonight and just how good a player he is when he's locked in?
COACH MARTIN: Bill Walker averaged 16.5 points, almost seven rebounds a game. And everybody criticizes his play. What other freshman in the country did that in a league like the Big 12? We're asking a 19-year-old young man to carry the torch for a basketball program. That's what we've asked him to do.
You know, I don't know too many guys that can accept the pressure, the responsibility, because he's got no help. It's not like we had other guys to help show him the way now. He's had to figure it out on his own.
And he doesn't do his job behind closed doors. He does it in front of all the eyes to see. And he's a lot like me: He's stubborn. He's emotional. But he's a winner. At the end of the day, that's the most important quality that young man has.
And let me come back to finish my point now, we're not talking about a guy that had a whole basketball season last year, now. We're talking about a young man that overcame a major knee injury, and he's gone out and produced the way he has.
And I've been a Bill Walker fan since I first saw him play in high school, because he's got an edge and he plays to win.
Now, does he have moments where his emotions kind of don't allow him to do that? What 18-, 19-year-old kid doesn't? It's part of growing up. I mean, I've got three kids. When my kids get that age -- I guarantee you, they're going to have moments like that. What am I going to do? Quit on my kids the day they have an emotional moment? No, they're my kids. I'm going to keep raising them. That's my job and that's what I'll always do.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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