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March 20, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Kansas State Â– 84
BYU - 72
THE MODERATOR: Joined in the interview room by Kansas State Head Coach Frank Martin and student-athletes Jacob Pullen and Wally Judge.
COACH MARTIN: When we beat Dayton back in Puerto Rico, Jeff Goodman came up to me, not that he's a prophet, but he said, "Frank, you guys are a Sweet 16 team." I said, "You're crazy." He goes, "I'm telling you, you're a Sweet 16 team."
Well, I guess he was right, and I think I need to call him for the lottery numbers later on tonight, but these kids are believable. I mean, the way they compete, the way that they go out and believe in each other and have grown, whether it's a freshman like Wally from day one to where he's at now, or Jacob, who is year three and he's worked so hard to lead our basketball team and our program to new heights, I'm excited for them. I'm excited for K-Staters.
It's all -- all the credit and recognition belongs on these kids's shoulders. They've earned it. I talk to them all the time about earning the right. Well, they've earned the right to be sitting here today as a Sweet 16 team.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach. Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jake, you took another big spill in this game, and yet got up and you were better than ever. You going to start doing that on an every-game basis?
JACOB PULLEN: No, I hope not. I pray not. Just want to win, man. And Frank told me I was all right, I was all right. Your adrenaline is rushing, man. I look over at my teammates and they telling me, "Come on, come on," you know, and I just couldn't sit there and watch us play, you know. So regardless, man, unless something was broken, I couldn't walk, man, I would have gotten back up and tried to play.
Q. Wally, can you talk a little bit Jacob, not only the offensive performance that he had tonight but the defense that he played on Fredette?
WALLY JUDGE: You know, he did a great job tonight. You know, lot of people have been having problems with Jimmer all year, and, you know, he's been scoring 30 the last couple of games, and I sat next to Jacob during film. I seen the way he broke down everything and watched his moves and what he does to get open, you know. He's really became a student of the game.
Q. Jake, just talk about that matchup with Jimmer. It seemed like he had a quiet 21 points tonight.
JACOB PULLEN: Just wanted to make him work for everything. Like Wally said, we watch a lot of film. We have two, three meetings -- after we played our first game, we had two, three meetings, you know, just watching film. And when you watch personnel, you just really get a feel for what people like to do, and I just -- I try to focus in on his crossovers and on what side of the screens he did.
Like I said, our coaching staff does an amazing job of giving us in-depth scouting reports. I just try to remember all those little things so I can make sure I kept him at arm's distance. He's a good player, though. He still found ways to score the ball. I give him a lot of credit because he's an amazing scorer. He found ways to score regardless of the defensive presence.
Q. It seemed like BYU was trying to switch up a lot, man to man zone, trying to offensively get you guys out of rhythm. What were you able to do to get up for the 3-pointers, and was that something you thought was going to be there against their defensive, figuring they were going to pack in and stop the guys up-front?
JACOB PULLEN: We knew they would double the post when they were in man. When they went zone, Frank just kept telling us to get the ball in the high post. Our bigs did the rest. When you get in the high post, it makes everyone suck in. They did a great job ever kicking out. Denis made extra passes. When I made a few, Frank made the call to get me another one. Denis, he just did a great job of feeding me in the first half while I was hot, you know, so it was all my teammates. They did a great job of getting me the ball.
Q. Jacob, did the loss by KU, a team that you guys know real well, respect real well, grab your attention and perhaps even strengthen your resolve?
JACOB PULLEN: Yeah, it did. But we understood how good BYU was. Like I said, the same way we understood how good North Texas would be, we understood how good BYU could be, and we didn't want to overlook them. We knew they could really shoot the ball. We knew our defensive presence could bother them if we got into pressure. We knew if we stood still and they passed the ball around and shot 3s, it would be a long night for us.
We just really had to key in on our defense, and we got comfortable on the offensive side and got the shots we wanted to really control the game.
Q. Jake, just talk about the feeling to play a game like this, a game like you had on such a big stage.
JACOB PULLEN: It's an amazing feeling, you know. Like I said, it's a childhood dream. You watch basketball -- watch basketball my whole life. I watched every -- all the NCAA tournaments, you know, since I was a kid. For me to be able to be in this position, you know, I thank Frank all the time. It's an amazing thing that he was able to give me the opportunity, you know.
Like I said, my recruiting wasn't crazy. I didn't have a million schools knocking on my door. I had some mid major schools, and then Frank walked into my door and told me I can play. I took the opportunity, and he gave me the opportunity. All my teammates. I'm glad that we're here together, and I'm glad that we get a chance to go to the Sweet 16 together.
Q. Wally, this question is for you. We've seen your game progress here in the latter portions of season into the Big 12 Tournament until now. Talk about how your game has advanced and why you're a little more confident in your game.
WALLY JUDGE: Because all throughout the year, my teammates stuck behind me. They've kept me level-headed and they pushed me to be better. You know, whether it's Luis at practice screaming at me or Jacob grabbing me by my head and telling something in my head. Our coaching staff is also, you know, done a great job of keeping me in the swing of things, not letting me get discouraged and stray away from the path that we're trying to continue on.
Q. Jacob, they get out to the ten nothing run to open the game. Talk about the defense and how you guys changed your energy level and refined the game.
JACOB PULLEN: Just woke up, you know. It's like walking -- it's like somebody telling you "I'm going to beat you up," then they walk out there and punch us. We like, oh, man, they hit us. We were down 10-0. It was our lack of energy. We weren't in passing lanes. They were passing the ball around, making a dribble move, kick out wide open three.
No one has done that really except for the games we lost this year. So we figured either we going home and they're going to shoot 3s or we're going to step up our defensive principles and really guard the ball.
Offensively, we just had to get in transition. That's our best offense at the beginning of the game, just get in transition so we can get into a flow ever a game.
Q. For either of you guys, what do you attribute the really good foul shooting to tonight?
JACOB PULLEN: Frank. At the end of every practice, we think we done and he walks in the huddle, bring it in. We all run to the huddle. We start clapping, and he tells us what we got to do. We got film, blah, blah, blah. Once we get ready to break, everybody got to make 20 or 25 free throws or you can't leave the gym. We all just sit there and go ah. We do it every practice, you know. In late game situations like this, he was confident with whoever we sent to the line. He didn't say you got to get the ball, you got to get the ball. Whoever got the ball, he was confident in them. That's just him trusting us because we shoot free throws everyday in practice.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Wally, just talk about your game and being able to contribute on the stage and reaching the Sweet 16. What's this whole ride been like now?
WALLY JUDGE: It's an outstanding feeling. Even though it's a big stage, I try not to let these things overwhelm me, you know. I just look at it as the next game on the schedule and like today, my teammates talked to me and told me about finishing plays at the rim.
Every time I caught the ball today, I thought of getting to the rim and finishing over contact or whatever is in my way.
THE MODERATOR: Do we have a final question? We will excuse the student-athletes. Questions for Coach Martin.
Q. Frank, I had you in the Elite 8 after that Puerto Rico win, by the way. Did you take a moment after this game to really relish it and enjoy it, or is that yet to come?
COACH MARTIN: When I saw my family up in the stands, my wife, my mom, my kids, my uncle, one of my best friends in life that's in town, as soon as that game ended, I realized that those are the people who believed in me from day one that have stuck with me when I was a young coach that wanted to pursue this as a career, and it was a great feeling. A great feeling.
I just got a text message, I know I'm not supposed to be looking at my phone, one of 400 that have been coming through, but it's from another one of my dear friends. His text said, "Never seen so many people at Hooters in Miami chanting your name."
When the season is over, whenever these kids get me off this ride, whenever it ends, I don't know, I'll separate from the whole deal and I'm sure I'll enjoy the moment. I enjoy it. Don't misunderstand me, Bob. I went in the locker room and sat by myself for a couple seconds there to just continue to appreciate the people that have stuck with me, you know. And outside of my family, the administration at K-State, the old one and new one. The old one for hiring me and believing in me and the new one for committing to me in what we're doing.
I'm blessed. I've been around great people my whole career. It's unbelievable just the way the good Lord just continues to put me around big time human beings that help me.
Q. You get down 10-0, seemed like the game was just a grinder, you know. You never really put them away. Is that kind of a proud aspect for you that this team had that toughness to just, you know, finish the job and stay with it the entire game?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. That's what the schedule and the season that we had playing in the Big 12, that's what it prepares you for. It prepares you to learn. It prepares you to grow. I was extremely proud of our guys. They're a good basketball team. Those guys are good. It's like the -- it's the NCAA Tournament. There's not going to be an easy out in this thing. They kept making a push in the second half, and our guys wouldn't give in. They wouldn't -- whether it was executing an offense and making an extra pass to get Wally a dunk or Denis making that 3, I think they cut it to 6 or something like that.
It's a special group of kids, and they've embraced -- I talk to them all the time about embracing being a good team. It's a big responsibility to be a good team. It's easy to lose. It's easy to give in. It's hard to fight. They fight and it's -- it's the great -- they're great kids to be around.
Q. When you broke down film on BYU, what was your strategy on Fredette?
COACH MARTIN: The two things I felt going into the game is, number one, we have to be very disciplined, which we were in the first half, and then second half we started reaching and grabbing and put them on the line too much. You can't foul him.
The second thing that we saw on tape is he likes to drive the ball to the middle of the floor. He likes to attack the middle from either wing. And I thought for the most part we did a decent job of staying between him and the rim and not giving him those middle drivers. We had breakdowns, but, you know, he's a heck of a player.
He's going to get the ball where he wants it and -- but that was our deal and we -- what we didn't want to happen is what happened the first four, five minutes of the game where we got caught staring at the basketball and not get to their shooters.
And as the game evolved, we continued to use our depth in guarding him and making the game hard for him, trying to get the ball out of his hands but then got more disciplined off the ball and took away the passes, and I think our size and athleticism helped us there.
Q. Frank, I know you don't get this far without a lot of really good pieces, but the way Jacob plays, can you just talk a bit about what he was able to do offensively and defensively for your team tonight?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. As a coach, a teacher, a parent, whatever the words you want to use as a person that's in my job, you live for the moment where you get around guys like him that come in as freshmen and they accept coaching, they accept discipline, they accept structure and then they accept the responsibility of becoming a good player. That means you have to work, you have to be committed to your team. It's not about him, it's about winning, and see, he doesn't like -- like the rest our guys, we don't play the game only on one side of the floor. Our guys play on both sides.
We do it everyday. Jacob has learned to take tremendous pride -- two years ago we're in the NCAA Tournament and we play Wisconsin and he had to guard Tre'Von Hughes. Wisconsin couldn't run their offense against us. I put Jacob in the game. Tre'Von Hughes drove him every single time. He had the game of his life that day and they beat us.
Now he comes in two years later in the same game going against a similar kind of matchup and now he understood a scouting report. He embraced the moment and he's grown.
That's -- coaching it's about being around people. Teaching is about being around people just like a father that you see them grow and, when it's their turn to shine, they take advantage of the moment.
Q. Talk about Jake. How has Wally been able to embrace the moment here as well and been able to contribute for this team especially tonight?
COACH MARTIN: I've been saying that all year. I've been just as hard on Wally as I was on Jake when he was a freshman. I haven't been any nicer to him. Wally came in -- Jake spoke about him not having all the credentials coming out of high school. Wally came in with all the credentials. But I get back to the same thing. Wally Judge didn't come to K-State because it's easy. He came to K-State because he wants to be a special player. Came to K-State because he believes in us.
We've coached him. We forced him to grow. And to his credit, he's never fought it. He's embraced it, and he continues to work. He just spoke about Luis. Some of the most physical plays I've been around as a coach take place in practice everyday between him and Luis. That's gotten Wally ready.
So now today we go play a team, and they get a big, old strong guy. Well, wally is ready to defend the post. Then offensively he's worked and worked and he made free throws and was able to finish plays in the rim which are huge.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions for Coach Martin.
Q. You talk a lot about your relationships. Can you speak to the one with Bob Huggins. Here you are, you're in the Sweet 16, he has his chance. One of the 400 text messages you probably anticipate will be from him?
COACH MARTIN: Absolutely. When I was a high school coach, I had a lot of guys come in and recruit my guys, and I never wanted somebody to hire me because they recruited my players. I had a lot of guys offer me jobs for players, but I wouldn't do it. He never got any of my guys.
But the guy that gave me the break in the business to move forward like to go from Northeastern to the high level situation was the guy that never signed my players. That shows a human being that he is. His belief in me as a person, not trying the utilize me as a pawn to benefit his career.
When he left K-State and he took that job at Morgantown only I, outside of his family, understood what a difficult decision that was for him. He could have done what 99 percent of the other coaches do, which is take the players. He told everybody stay put. He convinced administration to hire me and told everybody stay put. I've had my run. It's Frank's turn now. It's time to be loyal to him. I'll be okay. I'll hire guys and get players. We need to take care of Frank because it's his turn.
For a human being to do that for me, there can't be a better man in this business than him.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. You started off with Sutton on Fredette, but did you plan on Jacob being on him as much as he was? And also, is that one of the more complete games you've seen out of a player, considering what Jacob did offensively and defensively?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah. It's not that Dominique didn't do well against Fredette. My concern was when they had the big lineup in the game, Then Denis has got to guard a shooter that's about 5 inches taller than him, and he'd get there, but the guy just jump up and shoot over the top of him.
We had to change the matchup so we could put the size on the shooter and get Denis a guy he's more comfortable defending and -- but then our pressure -- I don't want to speak for coach, I don't like speaking for other people, but he put No. 10 in the game, which now makes the guards a little smaller which allows our matchups to be a little bit more normal with Denis on No. 10 and then Jacob.
Jacob was doing such a good job on Fredette that I didn't understand why I needed to go back the other way. Then when he got in foul trouble, Dom got him for another couple minutes and we were able to slow him down and we figured out a way to win the game.
Q. Did Jake play a complete game?
COACH MARTIN: Off the charts. Off the charts. That's what I preach. I preach team basketball. I preach you play both ends. It's not about catering to a good offensive player and the defense side. Our guys, I think they do that, and Jacob showed that today firsthand.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
COACH MARTIN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts