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March 19, 2010

Curtis Kelly

Frank Martin

Jacob Pullen


THE MODERATOR: Next up in the interview room from Kansas State, Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly. We're ready to go.

Q. Jake, describe now 1st Round is done, you guys were freshmen the last time did you this, being a leader on this team, is it a maturity level now coming in as a junior into the situation that you guys were in two years ago?
JACOB PULLEN: Definitely. It's about the understanding of how quick of a turnaround it is and how fast you have to prepare for the next team and how you can't get wrapped up in the next game. We have upperclassmen who understand that. It's easier to make a transition than it was freshman year.

Q. Jake, you guys have played against some good scorers throughout the season. James Anderson comes to mind. How do you guys plan on containing Jimmer tomorrow?
JACOB PULLEN: It's tough, you know? He's a very good scorer. He scores the ball in a variety of ways. He does a great job of reading the defense. So we just got to keep him uncomfortable. Try to do him like we did other good scorers, throw different looks at them, whether it be off ball screens or -- we really got to keep them guessing at what we're going to do and just got to hope he misses some shots, you know.
Good players are going to make tough shots. Hopefully, he misses some shots so we can rebound and make him have to guard on the other end.

Q. Curtis, Fredette goes to the basket quite a bit in addition to shooting 3s. How important is it for the big guys to try to come off and help against him, try to get to the rim, try to block the shot?
CURTIS KELLY: We're a good shot-blocking team. We tend to jump up there when the guys go to the basket. One thing I notice about him from the tape, he kind of ball-fakes a lot and he likes to get into the big guy's body when he gets to the basket. So what I'm going to try to do is let Jake or whoever guard him, lead him my way, and try to smack it as far as I can, smack it out of there.
THE MODERATOR: More questions for the K-State student-athletes?

Q. Jacob, how are you guys going to handle -- you guys are the favorites, you're supposed to win. But a lot of the time during the season, you guys have played with a chip on your shoulder. You guys still have that there, or are you guys going to handle the idea of being the favorite, the one that's supposed to win?
JACOB PULLEN: We still have the chip on our shoulders. We still feel like a lot of people were picking us to lose this game. We still have the chip on our shoulder, but it's really just about our motivation. It's about us having upperclassmen who understand where we are and where we want to be. We have the motivation that we need.
It's not about having a chip or being a favorite for this game. It's just about us understanding that we know what we want to be and we know what we need to do to win.

Q. Freshmen played a big role in yesterday's game. Talk about like Jordan Henriquez-Roberts who came in, especially to the post because foul trouble was definitely a issue. Talk about what these freshmen have been able to do to add depth to your team?
CURTIS KELLY: I think they've been doing a great job. Nick Russell, them guys have been real big when Denis and Jake were in foul trouble. When Jake went down, Trey came in the game and played Big D. And for the bigs, Jordan Henriquez and Wally Judge have been great.
I got in foul trouble, and I was in foul trouble until like the 15-minute mark of the whole game, and them guys came in and rebounded the ball well. I think both them had six rebounds. Wally scored well and Jordan blocked some key shots. We need them. We need everybody to come off the bench and contribute, and we can do that. We can go further in the Tournament for sure.

Q. Getting back to Jimmer again, who does he remind you of that you guys have faced this season and why?
CURTIS KELLY: I don't know. You guard the guards. What are you looking at me for?
JACOB PULLEN: Probably little bit of Clay Thompson from Washington State, how well he uses the screens and shoots the ball well off the screens. Has a real mentality to score the ball. Clay is probably the only person we faced that really used screens likes that. James Anderson is a flat-out scorer. Those two have a good basketball I.Q., and they really adjusted to that team. So that's probably the person that he reminds me of the most.

Q. Guys, at times this year, you battled foul trouble and then you got away from that for awhile. This last game, of course, it came back. Have you addressed that in the last day or so, and how do you balance staying aggressive the way you want to but avoiding the fouls moving forward?
CURTIS KELLY: Frank -- Coach Martin, excuse me, Coach Martin told us that we got to stay out of foul trouble, and that's key throughout the whole Tournament, especially against teams that shot from the free-throw line a little bit better, and BYU was a team that shoots really well. They've got a lot of players that shoot above 80 percent. We can't put them on the line for easy points, and I don't know. It's going to be tough. A lot of our bigs is aggressive. I like to just jump up there and try to squash shots. It's going to be shots. I got to be mentally more prepared and control my body and my mind a little bit more and relax and not be too eager to go up there and try to swat everything.

Q. I was wondering, could you talk about Denis, what he's meant to the team this year, what he brings to it, and how he's developed his game over time with you guys?
CURTIS KELLY: Denis has been a big contributor to this team. He's one of our main guys to me. With him and Jake in our backcourt, they take a lot of pressure off me, because a lot of teams focus on them two, which allows me to get the ball in the post and go one-on-one because they don't want to help off because I kick it to one of them.
Denis is explosive on the court, and he's fast. Sometimes a little too hard to keep up with him, running up and down that court, but I try. I think Denis has been doing a fantastic job. He's been passing me the ball well, so I can't complain.
JACOB PULLEN: Let me elaborate. His work ethic, since the day he's got here -- when he first got here, he couldn't really speak English. All he used to do was smile. He stayed in the gym, and that work ethic rubbed off on everybody.
When we first got here as freshmen and he was a transfer, all night he would spend time in the gym, and you look up and you would be in the gym with him. His work ethic has really rubbed off on this team. His emotion.
I might be the vocal leader, but Denis emotionally had lead this team. Last year when we were in the slump and lost four in a row, he emotionally tried to take over the team. Together we've been making a great combination to lead the team. As a whole, our team has just done a great job of just following us.

Q. Jake, I wanted to check on the tailbone. How is that doing? How are your elbows? How sore are you? How much ice did you do last night?
JACOB PULLEN: They iced it a lot. I'll be all right. I'll be -- I'd be sore.
CURTIS KELLY: You'll be all right.
JACOB PULLEN: I'm straight.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Kansas State student-athletes? Thank you.
Kansas State Head Coach Frank Martin now up in the interview room. We'll get a quick opening statement from Coach Martin and proceed with questions.
COACH MARTIN: After watching tape all night, I've come to the realization that our job is going to be even harder than I thought it was. At about 8:00 p.m. last night, BYU's as gifted an offensive team and Dave does an unbelievable job of getting those guys to do some things differently than most teams do.
They definitely use that 3-point line as a tremendous advantage. So it's going to be a big challenge for our guys. We have to be very disciplined with our defensive assignments to have a chance here tomorrow. So, we'll see. We'll give it our best shot the way we have all year.
THE MODERATOR: Ready for questions.

Q. Coach, a lot has been spoken about Denis' speed. Has he ever been timed in the 40 or 100-yard dash or measured his actual speed?
COACH MARTIN: We don't time our guys in that kind of stuff, but we do -- our strength and conditioning coach, Scott Greenwald, he does the same stuff they do at NBA pre-draft camps and all that, the different tests they put kids through. We've been doing it since our days at Cincinnati.
There's one drill where it's with the basketball, and you have to go from foul line to the other baseline. And I believe -- I haven't seen this number, because we do all this back in September, October, but I believe the number was 2.6, how long it took him to get from the foul line to the other baseline.
If I'm wrong on that, it's by a tenth ever of second or so. It's not by much more than that.

Q. Jacob just said he would compare Jimmer to like Clay Thompson from Washington State. What would you say is the biggest key to keeping him off the scoreboard early, keeping him in check?
COACH MARTIN: That's the difference between Jacob and I. He compares them to guys now. I compare them to guys my age. I think he's Billy Donovan, is who I think he is, when Billy played at Providence. Very similar, unbelievable ability to shoot the basketball, and an unbelievable ability the utilize that shot through his foot fakes and shot fakes to create angles, to get other shots and get to the foul line. Then when you put him on the line, he's just not going to miss. It's not going to happen.
You have to be very disciplined when you guard him. From watching them on tape and a little bit yesterday live, he does as good a job as anybody as attacking you off the dribble to the middle of the floor.
It's going to be a challenge. When the ball gets in the middle of floor, it's hard to help. Regardless of where you help from, you're going to open up shooters. And that's what makes him so difficult, because then you can't help and then he scores and gets fouled. If you do help, he pitches it and they all make 3s. He's a hard matchup, as hard as we've had this year.

Q. When Coach Rose had has cancer scare last summer, he heard from a lot of coaches. He said you were one of them that contacted him and talked with him. Can you speak briefly of your relationship with Coach Rose and what he's been able to do, having come back from that to do what they've done this year?
COACH MARTIN: Four years ago, Huggs and I just got hired at K-State. I'd been on the job for about a month, and I got sick. I've always been one of those guys, I get sick, I just take three Advils, wrap myself up with some blankets, sweat, and get out of bed and do my job. But I couldn't.
Eventually I gave in to Huggs, convinced me to go to the doctor. The doctor took me and put me right into the hospital, and I laid in that hospital bed for two weeks. They eventually figured ot I had pancreatitis. I had all kinds of crap going on in my body. That's what happens when you don't take care of yourself. The most severe thing I had aside from pneumonia that I developed was pancreatitis. Once the pancreatitis -- it's a swelling of your pancreas and shuts down all your organs.
Once the pancreas as went back to normal and my organs started working again, the pancreas when it returned to its normal phase had a different shape to it, and then they feared pancreatic cancer. I had no idea what pancreatic cancer was. I just know I had the cancer word.
So I'm laying in that hospital bed, and I looked at my phone and searched to see what it is, and I found out I believe it's 4 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive it. I lived with that fear for ten days. I had to fly around the country, get specialists to do more detailed looks at me, and knock on wood, good man upstairs didn't give me that disease.
When I heard Coach was battling that, it kind of hits close to home, someone you know actually is going through it, but God bless him. His, I believe, was a tumor that I believe only happens to 2 percent of the people that have pancreatic cancer that can actually get cut out, and, you know, he's been healthy since. God is good to good people. I'm sure he's taking care of him.

Q. Coach, seemed like when were you talking about breaking down film on BYU, you were a little surprised or maybe didn't fully appreciate what they offer offensively. If you've had those feelings, are you worried that maybe the players will take a little bit too long to figure out or appreciate what they've got?
COACH MARTIN: That's what I'm telling you. That's not what I'm telling them (laughter). I've been watching Big 12 teams play for three months. That's all I've watched. I try to watch some basketball at night every once in a while just to break the monotony of watching Texas Tech or whoever play over and over. But I really -- I hadn't watched BYU play until I saw them play Florida in the locker room there I watched maybe ten minutes of the game outside, and I went in and watched the end of it.
Right away -- I mean, Brad Underwood, my assistant has watched 100 games. Right away my opinion was they're pretty darn good on offense. As I sat there last night just watching them over and over and over, that opinion continued to grow.
Now, with all that said, we do play in the Big 12 and we play some pretty darn good basketball teams, and we're one of the top three defensive teams in our league. So, I mean, we're going to guard. That's what we do. We just got to be disciplined in our guarding assignments.
The one thing that worries me is like last night, we hadn't done it in a while, last night we started putting our hands on people again and we got called for fouls. We can't do that. Do you that against them, you're not going to win.

Q. Coach, asked Jake the same question, how big it that the leaders on this team have been in the same situation two years ago and are moving into the Second Round?
COACH MARTIN: It's important. It's important. Two years ago we beat Southern Cal, and all those young puppies we had, they were all so happy, you know, they were excited as heck. We had a good practice. We went out and played our hearts out against Wisconsin. They were better than we were that day.
Get back to the same thing we talked about a couple days ago. They've been through that before. Now they understand how to handle those emotions that come with the situation a little bit better, and does that help us win or lose? I don't know. Probably just gives us a little bit more peace of mind going into the game.

Q. Frank, do you like the way you've been able to gradually bring along this freshman class? And also can you share any stories of maybe one of them's first reaction to your patented glare?
COACH MARTIN: By the way, they also found out I had ulcers, which probably gives Pat some credibility that I'm completely insane, but I don't know.
You know, that's a great thing about having upperclassmen is that -- that's where those guys have been so good, Jake and Denis and Jamar and all those guys. They've helped those young kids just understand that all we're doing is we're demanding that they do their jobs, that they take pride in what they're doing, because that's that life is all about.
Life is not about making mistakes and saying it's okay, because when you're my age, you screw up, and nobody patting you on the back and telling you it's okay. They're going to get pissed because you didn't do your job. That's all I'm trying to do is prepare those kids.
They've been great. I'm telling you those freshmen, the way that they continue to grow and get better and they're so willing to improve. That kid like Wally Judge, let's use him since he was the high profile name coming into our class. That young man has not complained one minute of one day, and he didn't come to K-State because he had his hand out, because he wanted a freebee when it came to playing time.
He came here because he knew what we were about. He trusted us and wants to be the best that he can be. And he knew that we're going the make him work, and that's what we've tried to do. Never once has he -- has he been happy everyday? Probably not. But he's come in and worked every single day, and never once has he complained about playing time or "I could be playing somewhere else" or none of that stuff.
He's remained focused on one thing, and that's listening to the people around him so he can continue to grow and then doing his job the best he can to help our team.
I don't know. As we're talking, I can't think of anything in particular. They've learned pretty quick that just look the other way. Sometimes I feel like, who is that old mythology witch or whatever, used to like stare at people and turn them into stone.

Q. Medusa?
COACH MARTIN: I feel like Medusa sometimes. They all look the other way. They don't want to look me in the eye.

Q. Frank, talking to Dom in the locker room a little bit ago, he mentioned that he feels like most assignments he's gotten on defense this year have been guys with similar height and length to him, and so he expressed that he's interested in this challenge of facing Jimmer tomorrow who is 6-2, maybe a little shorter than he is. He wants the see what kind of quickness he brings. Just talk about the challenge that Jimmer presents and the confidence you have in Dominique a defender.
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. The thing with how we try to defend, everything we do starts with the point guard because it depends -- for you to run offense, it's my opinion you have to get the ball to a certain area so then the screen that you set or the cut that you make becomes effective.
We try to not allow the point guard to get the basketball to that area of the floor. So before Dom can do his job, Denis or Jake or whoever has to do their job up top and then once he does his job up top, then we got to be good in dealing with the screen or the cut action to make people catch the basketball further out from their comfort zone.
Again, it gets down to executing routes. Once they get the ball in the certain area understanding what your matchup does, what he's trying to do with the basketball in his hands. Now you got to be disciplined enough to stay down, to not give into the fakes and make them score the ball. We have a saying, "Score the ball through your chest." We got the make him shoot the basketball through our chest. That means our guy's chest has to be between the ball and the rim.
If it's not, that means he's got an ankle, then he's going to win that battle nine times out of ten. That's where we have to be disciplined and we've got to help Dom by getting basketball to certain areas which then allows him to be more aggressive to make him make his catches further out on the floor.
But it's a team game. We're all going to have to help each other to handle BYU and Jimmer.

Q. Talk about the freshman coming in yesterday, playing yesterday. They spent a lot of minutes there in the second half. You had foul trouble with the guards. Were you a hundred percent confident with where they've been and how they're playing now?
COACH MARTIN: I've played them from day one. That's part of the reason we play as we play. As an old high school coach, I used to have a tough time while coaching came in recruiting our guys. Telling them how great they are and they get there and they never play. Their response was he's not ready. If guys come there and do what I ask them to do in practice and they go to class and do the school work, respect the community, respect the campus, then it's my duty to figure out the play them. That's my job.
A That's why we play the way we do. It means that we need to play multiple guys and because of that, it's gotten those guys tremendous experience throughout the year.
Now, those freshmen were nervous yesterday when they first got in the game which was understandable, but once the first couple of minutes went by, they settled down and played well.

Q. Jacob Pullen talked numerous times about his freshman year and how it was a culture shock and then just trying to get through it all and talk about his development, not only as a player but as a person and your approach with him.
COACH MARTIN: That's what coaching is all about. It's just like parenting. That's what it's all about. It's no different. You don't expect them to go from 3 to 26. There's -- you got to go through the years. They got to go through the growing process, and it's no different with a player. They come in as freshmen in college, and to his credit, he came in as a point guard and had to play for a team that was -- that we were pushing them to compete because it's what we do. We didn't have a three-year plan in mind.
I said it yesterday, I don't know what that means, three-year plan. The plan is to get better everyday. The plan is to go win the next game on the schedule. That's the way we do it. And Jacob had to accept that burden without much help as far as from teammates that can help him through the ride.
That's what it's all about. He never backed away from it. That's why I knew he had a chance to be special because he embraced coaching, he never ran away from the challenge. He wasn't great every day as a freshman, but he was so willing to take on the challenge, to accept the coaching, and you do that.
I'm one of those guys, Bob, I truly feel that this whole thing in society in this day and age, you try to make things easy for kids, all you're doing is screwing the kids. It's about making it reality for them. Making them understand that when they get our age, life is not easy, it's not fair. You've got to work, and if you don't work, you're going to get kicked to the curb, and that's what education is all about.
It's up to us to educate these kids as to what they're going to do when they're 25, 26, and they're a husband, got to run a house, be a parent, that's our job. That's what I try to do. Jacob is a great example of guys that embrace it and take on that responsibility.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions.

Q. When the players were in here earlier, they talked about Denis and his work ethic. Talked about how he came in, didn't really speak a loto f English. I was wondering if you could talk about his work ethic.
COACH MARTIN: He's been tremendous. Obviously, his career in Miami had come to an end, and a lot of people would point the finger and blame as to why it came to an end. He accepted the responsibility, and from day one, he got there to Kansas State, I mean, he's been unbelievable.
When he first stepped foot on campus, he weighed 148 pounds. He weighs 183 pounds right now. That's the commitment that he's made into making himself just a better athlete and in the weight room and eating the right way and taking care of himself.
He never, never was a good student. Well, he's getting ready to get a degree in about six, seven weeks. He's taken pride in being a good student. Then on top of that, he's busted his hump make himself a better player, and he's become a heck of a leader. And that work ethic, that dedication, that spirit that he has, has permeated amongst our team.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.

Q. Coach, you said a few moments ago, maybe alluding to the fact that BYU leads the nation in free-throw shooting. We can't put our hands on them and win the game. Numbers say, though, you guys foul a lot. You get fouled even more. How much do you think fouling free-throws, that physical aspect of the game will be a factor tomorrow? How does it play out in tournament games as opposed to regular season?
COACH MARTIN: We foul some. We had a moment during the season where we fouled too much because of how we play, the new players in place. It takes time for guys to understand the aggressiveness that we ask our guys to play with and where you got to draw that line, even the things you can't do.
Towards the end of the year, we were phenomenal. We grew tremendously. You go up and down. Our schedule there towards the end of the Big 12 season, we held everybody in our league that we played to the lowest field goal percentage and fewest points that they've scored.
The Kansas game, we fouled too much. We kind of put our hands on them and put them on the line a little too much, and then we kind of did that again yesterday. That's why I'm a little concerned about it, because we reverted. I think yesterday was more we had officials that were from a different league on the game and it's up to our guys to adjust to the officiating. That's part of being a mature basketball team.
I wasn't upset at our guys because we were lazy yesterday. I was upset with them, as I kept telling them the officials are calling this. You guys got to take your hands off. It's our job to adjust to them, not their job to adjust to us. Hopefully, we learned that yesterday and we can be better against BYU. If we foul them, we're in trouble. They're not going to miss free-throws.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
COACH MARTIN: Thank you.

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