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March 21, 2008

Michael Beasley

Frank Martin

Bill Walker


THE MODERATOR: Bill Walker, Michael Beasley are with us. Maximum 20-minute session. We'll start off with questions right here in the second row.

Q. This is for both of you. I know you were very young at the time, but do you remember the Fab 5 and did they have any influence over your style of play or energy for the game?
BILL WALKER: Yeah, I remember the Fab 5. Mostly I remember from them, they just played an up tempo style, run and gun. Just have fun out there.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I remember their bald heads and black socks, I remember that.
BILL WALKER: We don't take anything from them. We just go out and try to play our own style.

Q. As an unathletic 50-year-old guy, could you tell me what it was like when you tore your ACL? What kind of pain is it? The rehab? All that kind of stuff?
BILL WALKER: Well, you hear a pop at first. And then you feel kind of something like a burning sensation inside. And then you try to bend it and it's just tough to bend. And you know you tore your ACL. But rehab is just a lot of quad work, hamstring work, calf work, just strengthening all the other muscles around the knee so you can take some of the pressure off the knee.
It's just a long, long stretch of time that you gotta do that for, just gotta keep going hard, get the muscles as strong as you can and get back out there.

Q. Could you talk about what you've seen in Wisconsin maybe on the tape you just watched?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: They run the offense to a T. They got big guys inside that rebound. They got strong guards. They basically are a great team. They rebound. They shoot. They run. They do pretty much everything good.

Q. Yesterday obviously was a very emotional game with a lot of guys you knew, and you played that way, with a lot of emotion. Any chance in not having the same kind of emotion for this particular matchup?
BILL WALKER: We're playing to go to the Sweet 16. And you have any let-downs, you're going home. So we're going to come out with the same emotion and try and get this win.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I would rather play till the championship, not just the Sweet 16. We have to play every game like that. I think when you're going to play every game like that, we have to bring the intensity, bring the fire. You have to want to want it more than the other team.

Q. Michael, in the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement I think Stern wants players to stay in college at least two years. Do you have any thoughts about that, how long a player should stay in college?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I mean, if you're ready, you're ready. LeBron James, for instance. He was ready. He's in the NBA doing what he do.
I think the four or five best players in the NBA are all out of high school. It's just a matter of when you're ready. I'm in college right now, so that doesn't have any effect on me. Thank God I'm in Kansas State and I'm not thinking about the NBA or anything like that. I really don't think about it.

Q. Talk about waking up this morning and thinking back on what you guys did last night, kind of feel like a dream? And then talk about how practice went today, the day after?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I didn't really think about it this morning. The first thing I thought about this morning was how tired I was. But practice was just like every other practice for the past couple of weeks we've had. Intense. Running, getting a lot of shots up, going through the defenses and going through the sets. It's just a regular day.
BILL WALKER: Well, I just woke up just thinking that we were going to have another intense practice. Just wondered how I was going to get through it. We got the win yesterday and that's history. That's old news. We're just trying to prepare and face a good Wisconsin team.

Q. I covered those Fab 5 teams. What they have in common with y'all, they're very young and the NCAA tournament brought the best out of them in them, they just took it to another level once these lights came on. Can you sense any of that, that this tournament is bringing out the best in you guys?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I think it's the best time to show the country what you can do. If you've been holding anything back, now is the time to let it show. Like he said, you're going to go home and we don't want to go home. So I think it's only right we take it to another level.
BILL WALKER: That's what I think. I mean, this time of year, it's what you're playing for. You're playing for a national championship. And you're going to bring your best game every time you get a chance to play. And I think that's what it does to you.

Q. You guys had I think all but six of your points were scored by freshmen yesterday. Has that youth hurt you at all against experienced teams in games or do you think you're past that as first-year players?
BILL WALKER: I don't think it's just the youth. I think sometimes it's just coming down to our decision-making, just mental lapses on defense and just not doing the right things with the ball on offense.
It has nothing to do with youth. It's just making plays.

Q. Mike, with the way your team played with you in foul trouble in the first half yesterday, how much pressure do you think that takes off of you to kind of score knowing that your teammates are there to pick you up if you are on the bench?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: First of all, I feel no pressure. My team, the way they played last night, is the way they've been playing.
Had a couple of bad games during the course of the season. But last night, they played like they wanted to win. And as long as they play like that, I have no pressure on me whatsoever.

Q. Michael, how do you like the challenge of going up against the Badger bigs, one of the few teams that has probably even more size than you guys?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I like every challenge. This is the biggest game so far. They've got a couple of bigs inside. I'm ready to go for it. I'm ready to try to get this win. I'm ready for my team to go to the Sweet 16.

Q. Bill, how do you respond to people that would say: When you play mature, the maturity level of the entire team elevates? And then, Mike, did you sense any time this season that this was an immature basketball team and that maybe that hurt you all during the season?
BILL WALKER: I don't know. I mean, I never thought I had that much control over other grown men. I don't know. I guess as far as emotion goes, if I play in control like we did yesterday, then we're a tough team to beat. And I know that and I try to keep my composure and try to help my team.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I guess if you want to say we're mature, but, I mean, what would you expect? We're not 30-year-old men with wives and kids to feed. We were all at our high school prom last year. So I think we grew over the course of the season.
Like you say, when Bill shows a certain sort of maturity level, we tend to follow him, being here a little longer than all of us.
But you gotta expect immaturity from kids like us. We're still young.

Q. Mike, you said you had a couple of bad games this year. But yesterday wasn't necessarily a bad game, just that first half you were in foul trouble. Is that the way you guys played yesterday? Is that when you guys are at your best, though, where not only you finishing with 23 and 11 but everyone contributing and Bill stepping up in the first half and other guys contributing, too?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I would say that's the best game we played all year. It wasn't just one or two guys or me or it wasn't just Bill. It was the whole team. We came together as one, not just on the offensive side, but on the defensive side. We got them out of what they wanted to do. We had them running offense from the half-court mark.
So I think that was the best game we played all year just as a team.

Q. Of course, there's all different kinds of motivation. Bill, you mentioned yesterday or the day before about maybe playing with a chip on your shoulder, going out to prove the world wrong. And you all kind of did that. Now people are going to be saying, yeah, but can they do it again. Can you talk about that kind of motivation?
BILL WALKER: Yeah, we know nobody picked us to even be in this tournament at the beginning of the year. But we're here. Once we got to the tournament, we knew nobody picked us to win the game. We did it. But we want to keep this momentum going and push it as far as we can. We feel like in that locker room it's just us versus everybody else. And that's how we play.

Q. Frank said after the game you kind of play with an edge. Do you agree with that, and do great players need kind of an edge or kind of a little something on the court to maybe separate them from other guys?
BILL WALKER: No, I mean, a wise man once told me if you have passion for what you do, you can be successful at it and you can do it for a long time. And, you know, I live by that. If you don't have passion in what you do, how can you be successful? And I play the same way.

Q. Bill, this question isn't very serious, but does Mike always talk like he's Shaquille O'Neal? Does he mimic Shaq a little bit?
BILL WALKER: Mike's a comedian, man. He should be a comic, yeah. He needs some cameras following him every day. He's a goofy guy.

Q. How many different things defensively have teams done this year to try to stop you and what do you expect Wisconsin to do?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I seen a couple of different things this year, seen box and one, triangle and two. We played against -- what was it, Iowa State? I'm playing against five guys sometimes. It was quadruple teams out there.
But I really don't know what Iowa State -- I don't know what Wisconsin can do. If we continue to play like we played last night, how can you double team? You're leaving guys open. If we continue to play like we played last night, we just gotta play straight up.

Q. Bill, are the Big 12 becoming pretty guard oriented? They don't play more than one big man at a time. Are you not necessarily concerned, but what do you think? Do you guys know what to expect with Wisconsin with a big lineup like that? Does that at all faze you?
BILL WALKER: At this time it doesn't matter. We've got to defend. In this tournament, it's a battle of playing style. If we can play to our tempo pace and we can win the game. If they slow it down then they can win. Just a battle of tempo.

Q. Mike, this isn't too serious a question. I know you've been playing the video games a lot. Have you been able to get Kansas State to the championship game all the way?
MICHAEL BEASLEY: No, I pretty much suck at video games. Especially when I'm playing Bill. I just can't win. We play Kansas State versus Kansas State and he will double team Mike Beasley. I can't get no shots out.
BILL WALKER: Smart move (laughter).
MICHAEL BEASLEY: I pretty much suck. So I don't think I got to the tournament yet in my video games.

Q. Bill, I wanted to follow up on that. You talked about the quote about passion. Who told you that and how long has that been something that --
BILL WALKER: A wise man told me that (smiling).

Q. Was that Mike or somebody else?
BILL WALKER: I can't remember where I heard it from.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: It was me. I told him. He don't remember. It was me (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Good luck.
Head coach Frank Martin of Kansas State is now with us. We'll ask him to make a statement about getting into the second round, then we'll go to questions and answers. Frank.
COACH MARTIN: I think this is the first time in my life I've enjoyed not sleeping, you know, being awake all night watching tape. Usually that's a grind. I can tell you that when my kids started running around 6:30 in the morning in my hotel room, it usually drives me insane.
Couldn't be happier or more excited for such a great group of guys we have in our locker room and for the people of K State. But with that said, we also understand we've got another challenge ahead of us and we're excited for the opportunity and we'll be ready to go here tomorrow at 3:20.

Q. Frank, can you talk about the adjustments you've gone through this season as a first-year head coach at this level and in particular even dealing in settings such as this with a lot of media in this tournament?
COACH MARTIN: You know, that's why when you work for the guys that I've worked with in this business, you know, they prepare you for this. Ron Everhart, Rudy Keeling, Bob Huggins, they allowed me to be such an integral part. They didn't tell me, you're a recruiter, go recruit. I don't want you to say anything, I don't want you to be involved in anything.
They made me get involved with the daily operations of running a basketball program. And it gave me the ability to prepare, to prepare for the day I got an opportunity.
And as far as dealing with situations like this and so forth, you know I'm 41 years old. I'm not 23 years old. When you're a schoolteacher for as long as I was and you're so important in the lives of kids, of parents that are concerned for their kids, you know you better understand how to do business.
When you've got department heads worried about your lesson plans for your Algebra 1 class, you've got to be prepared. You'd be doing a disservice if you're an educator and you can't comprehend how to deal with people.
It's something that I've accepted and I've learned and I'm comfortable with.

Q. Frank, how much does Bill Walker's on-court maturity impact the rest of the team, elevate or lower?
COACH MARTIN: Jason, it's no secret. I mean, he understands it. I understand it. The team understands it. And usually freshmen, they're not asked to carry the torch. That's the job of a 22-, 23-year-old person who is a little bit more prepared to accept that responsibility.
And I can tell you when I was 18, 19, I'd have a tough time accepting that responsibility, and that's the age I started coaching. And when I was 19. And it forced me to grow up in a hurry because I was given that responsibility.
But, you know, I'd say this: If Bill's in college for two, three more years, imagine as that normal maturity of a human being continues to take place, what a special and individual player he will continue to become.
I guess it's a process we all go through. Some people go through it a little differently than others. With Bill, he's got to go through the process, in front of cameras and in front of people, while the rest of us kind of do it in the background.

Q. Last night was a very emotionally charged game and guys who knew each other and things like that. You've talked often about some of the reasons for the late season struggles. Do you feel like it was just your team getting healthier and everything or did the tournament provide some kind of a jolt for your team?
COACH MARTIN: You know, I try to -- every time I'm asked a question I answer it honestly. I take a lot of pride in that. Some people give politically correct answers. I say the truth.
I wish Kansas, Nebraska, Baylor and Texas were the four teams that beat us at the end of the season, and Texas A&M, I wish those teams would not have played as hard as they did to get a win.
Last time, if you look at it, all five of those teams, they're playing in the post season: Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas, Texas here, and Nebraska in the NIT.
I'd like to think that those teams would have said, you know, Frank, you're a nice guy, we've known you for a long time, this is your first year, you've got young kids, let's let you win tonight. That's why the Big 12 is so difficult.
We had to play four of those games in eight days. Three of them on the road. And we fought like heck. Fought like heck. Kansas and Texas -- and you guys cover the sport, you watch all these teams play -- Kansas and Texas both have as good a chance as anybody in the country to carry this trophy here at the end of the season.
I can tell you I've watched them all on tape now. I can't find teams, any team that's any better than either one of those two.
And the other guys are all good basketball teams. That's why they're all playing in the post season.
So it's just something that you go through. We won 10 conference games. Some teams lose their first four and win their next six.
We won early and lost a couple of games late. It wasn't because our kids didn't try. It wasn't because there was a lack of interest. You know, were we perfect? No. But that's what playing in a conference like Big 12 does to you. You better be good every night. That's why Kansas is so good. Because they're good every night. That's what makes them such a special basketball team.

Q. I meant it more in the terms of, do you think you played with more emotion and better yesterday?
COACH MARTIN: Everybody does at this time of year, because next time you lose your season's over with. Any team that's still playing understands the fact that if you don't find success, then that basketball team will not play together ever again. And because of those reasons, everybody kind of takes their play to a different level.
That's why it's so difficult to beat people at this time of year. Because nobody lays down when they might have a chance to not succeed, because they understand there's no tomorrow.
So I'm sure that had something to do with our guys playing a little bit better than maybe we had.

Q. Wisconsin really in the Big Ten doesn't see anyone like Mike, I guess not a lot of people do, but is there any game you can see where you can look at what they've done against someone of a similar stature, at the very least, and how they played him to get an idea?
COACH MARTIN: I must have watched ten of their games between I got home last night and before practice today. Wisconsin -- there's some people that do a lot of different things. I mean, they're kind of what you see is what you get.
They're going to play you man to man and they're going to be very physical and they're not going to give you anything easy and rebound the crap out of the basketball.
And they've won the Big Ten for a reason, because they're good. They play their style, and they're very good at it. And they were able to defeat teams that are very good to win that trophy and their conference.
But I didn't see anything in specific, if you're talking about different -- I'm sure they're going to try and double, I would think, whenever he's in the low block, most people do.
I don't know, I've never known Coach Ryan to play a lot of box and one or triangle and twos or any of that stuff. So I don't know. I haven't seen it, to answer your question.
But whether or not he does it, Coach has won a lot of games for a lot of years, so I'm sure he's going to do something.

Q. Frank, similar to follow that up, has Mike faced any bigs, kind of like Wisconsin, and do any of their bigs kind of remind you of any that Mike has faced in conference play?
COACH MARTIN: Texas A&M ring a bell? Kansas ring a bell? You know, it's kind of -- that's the great thing about the Big 12. Great thing. Some conferences everybody plays real similar. The Big 12 there's so many contrasting styles. You've got Sasha Kaun. I keep calling Pryzbilla. I get it confused because he's from Minnesota, their back-up center. Cole Aldridge. They've got guys like that are physical and very long and difficult to score over.
You've got A&M who has big, strong guys that don't like playing on the perimeter.
You've got different styles in the Big 12. So it prepares you as you go through the Big 12 season because of the different contrasting styles of all the coaches. You played Princeton. We've played Princeton when we played Colorado, Princeton style. You want to play a grind-it-out, as-physical-as-it-comes basketball game, you play that when you play Nebraska. If you want to play against a team that's got a combination of shooters and low post guys, you've got that when you play Texas A&M. And you've got it when you play Oklahoma. If you want to go play a team that runs and ball screens you and rebounds it, you've got it in Kansas. And the same with Texas. All the different kinds of styles of play prepares you for the post season.

Q. This is a real curve ball that you've had no opportunity to think about, so you can feel free to pass on this question. I've seen a team similar to yours with a kid like Bill Walker, I covered the Fab 5 and had Jalen Rose. He controlled the maturity level of the team. And it wasn't until the NCAA tournament that Michigan would ever really play. These lights brought out the best in them. Do you see any similarities between this squad and what Steve Fisher and Michigan had to do with that group of young kids?
COACH MARTIN: You know, I'm not extremely -- obviously I don't know what happened internally with them there day-to-day, but as a high school coach and AAU coach I coached all those guys that were on the Fab 5 team. And I always thought as a high school coach, looking at them from the outside, that Jalen Rose was the key to their team. Whenever Jalen came out and really played, it made every boy on the team a better player.
I think from that respect -- I think Bill's a lot -- very similar to that. It's where when he comes out and he competes, and more importantly, plays with that confidence of who he is, it makes us a better basketball team. It just complements what we have as a team.
And you can add Jacob Pullen to that mix. When Jacob comes out and plays with the energy and the aggressiveness with which he played last night, you know, then we become better, because they both do things that other guys on our team can't do.

Q. You're relying a lot on freshmen. How difficult is it for a group of -- a young group to play against kind of a system-oriented group of four-year players like a Wisconsin?
COACH MARTIN: You should look at a picture of me back in September, look at my hair now if you want to figure out about freshmen now.
I can't tell you how proud I am of those guys in that locker room. Because in life we all have people that show us the way. I had coaches that showed me the way on preparing me for when it was my turn. As players, you get to a basketball team and there's people that show you the way so when it's your turn to lead the team -- and unfortunately for us, we missed that this year. The only person we had that could have showed the way was David Hoskins. And unfortunately he's a part of us spiritually. He's with us in that locker room yesterday at halftime unbelievable, but he's not on that court. And there's only so much that someone like that can do to help you lead.
So those freshmen have had to accept that responsibility of being good day in and day out, understanding a scouting report.
Freshmen -- high school players rarely go through a scouting report meeting. So our guys, the first time we did a scouting report meeting, they found it was a joke. They found out it wasn't a joke. When they made a mistake, because they didn't know the scouting report, they didn't get back in the game. Then they start understanding the importance of it.
Usually you've got a senior who grabs that freshman and says, listen, man, this is how we do things if you don't pay attention, I'm not going to let you in practice.
But our guys have been great. They've learned their lessons during the course of the year. They've adapted to the styles of plays. And they've learned. They've learned. And they're receptive to coaching. They're receptive to instruction, and for that reason that's why we were able to succeed the other night. And that's why today in practice we were as good as we were, because our guys, they understand that the next time we don't succeed the season's over. So they're taking all the lessons that we've learned and try to put them in to try to figure out a way to win tomorrow.

Q. Coach, the NCAA tournament's obviously about pressure and excitement and watching 10 games and whatever you did 12 hours or whatever. How much fun are you having with the process also?
COACH MARTIN: I don't care how little I sleep. It's a lot better than sitting in my classroom Algebra 1 watching Selection Sunday or the first round of the games on that corner TV set in my classroom.
When you get in this business, this is what you're in there for, for these opportunities, to be on this stage speaking to you, answering your questions, to coach kids like that, that are willing to go out and lay their hearts on the court and to find a way to play another day.
That's what makes this such a great tournament and just such a great stage for collegiate sports.
I've got plenty of time to sleep when the season is over. I've got plenty of time to sit back and cook something on my grill or something. But right now it's time to work and play and enjoy. And that's why I've done it for as long as I have.

Q. Frank, Mike said he thought last night's game was the best one you played all year as a team because of the contributions you got from everyone. Would you agree with that assessment and just how vital is that to your success that Michael plays well, but so do all the other guys around?
COACH MARTIN: I thought you meant that I played. It's been a long time since I figured that one out.
No, we beat A&M. We beat Kansas. We beat Iowa State early in the year. We played really, really well. I don't know if yesterday we played a lot better than we did than on those nights. Obviously the difference is this might be our most complete game away from Bramlage. I would agree with him on that. Just it's the first time we play away from Bramlage and play as well as we did.
The one thing we have had on the road is we've had a little bit of ups and downs and last night was the first time that we were a little more stable as far as the way we played the game, away from Bramlage. But we did play well.

Q. You talked about the difference in the high school guys coming to freshman year and seeing scouting reports and so forth. How much has Mike specifically benefitted from the structure of the season and the college program?
COACH MARTIN: That's the part that makes it so special to coach him. It's how important all those things are to him. He wants to win.
Our freshmen, to the T, they all want to win. It's not their fault that they really didn't have anybody to show them the way, the things that are supposed to be done. They were willing to learn and accept. But Mike, in specific, when someone's as talented and as talked about as he is, and yet he's so receptive to coaching, not just coaching -- listen, I have confidence in who I am. I'm not Roy Williams. I'm not Rick Barnes. I'm not Bill Self. I don't have that credibility next to my name yet. And for somebody like him to accept instruction from me, you know, and be so receptive to it and so willing to listen, it's a credit to who he is and how much he wants to be a special player and how much he wants to win.

Q. When you watched those tapes last night, Frank, did anything go through your mind about Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft, No. 45?
COACH MARTIN: I'm glad I'm not guarding him, I'll tell you that. He's as physical as they come. Talented, leads them in assists. Rebounds it with the best of them. Plays with unbelievable energy and passion.
When you guys -- when you watch guys on tape and they go after every offensive rebound, not just when they're in the right area, when they go after every offensive rebound, then it makes your night a little longer. Makes it even more difficult to sleep. He's extremely active and extremely physical.

Q. You know I like to keep track of stats with Mike. Last night he passed Shaq and Kevin Durant for most rebounds in the freshman season. I think he's third or fourth all-time freshman scoring. We've heard a lot of speculation. We really haven't had you run the record for this, but would you consider Mike to be maybe one of the top freshmen to ever come through the NCAA?
COACH MARTIN: You know, I remember watching two freshmen that I thought impacted college basketball more than anybody. That's when I was younger. And that was Waymon Tisdale and Mark Aguirre. I remember them coming in as college freshmen from day one. It was 20-10 every game, put it down. Not just that, their teams won.
Then I line up last year and I had the unfortunate responsibility of developing a scouting report to guard Kevin Durant. And that was no fun. And then he goes out and he does what he does where he surpasses all those numbers and yet his team wins.
And then Mike lines up this year and he eclipses all those numbers. And his team has won also. I don't know, that's for someone else to judge and kind of figure out and who is better, who is the best. But I can tell you, it ain't too many guys because I thought Waymon Tisdale was unbelievable. I thought Mark Aguirre was unbelievable. Then I saw Kevin last year and I was like wow. Now for Mike to come in and do what he's done, he's up there. He's up there. It's hard for me to say one, two, three, but he's up there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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