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March 25, 2010

Denis Clemente

Curtis Kelly

Frank Martin

Jacob Pullen


Kansas State – 101
Xavier – 96
(Double OT)

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Kansas State representatives to the stage. We'll take a brief opening statement from coach followed by questions to the student-athletes, then returning to questions for Coach Martin.
Coach Martin.
COACH MARTIN: Real proud of our guys, to find the courage and the character to figure out a way to overcome some of our mistakes and some of the shots that Xavier made and still find a way to win. Just that's what these guys have done all year.
But that's March basketball at its finest right there. That's two teams refusing to give in, refusing for their seasons to end.
My hat goes off to Xavier. I know how good they are from my days at Cincinnati and from playing them for two of the last three years. So I expected it to be a hard-fought game. I didn't expect it to be like this. But they were phenomenal.
And our guys were pretty good, too.
THE MODERATOR: We'll direct questions to Kansas State student-athletes.

Q. Denis, how does it feel to be playing another game in a K State uniform?
DENIS CLEMENTE: I mean, so help me, man, that I can't even explain. I can understand this is my last tournament. I'm a senior, so I got to lay everything on the court like I've been doing, keep supporting my teammate and coach.

Q. Jake, you're pretty good about putting things in perspective. When you think people look back on this game, what do you think they're going to say?
JACOB PULLEN: It's a classic. It was two teams who didn't want they season to end. We didn't play our best game. It was a credit to them, they played good defense, made tough shots. Every time we thought the game was over with, we were walking to the line, you could see it in their eyes, they didn't want their season to end either.
It was a tale of two teams who wanted to go to the next round. Somebody had to lose at the end of the day.

Q. How fun was this or how exhilarating was the shootout between guards?
JACOB PULLEN: I guess it was just what you said, it was a shootout. Two teams, like I said, they wanted to win. Percentages didn't really matter. Things that people usually do didn't really matter when it comes down, the adrenaline pumping. You're looking, Did he scoreboard. They made tough shots. We made tough shots. It was just two competitive teams going after it.
DENIS CLEMENTE: What I can say? Like I always say, I got to score 30 points to win the game, I score 30 points. I got to score 10 points to win the game, I score 10. But today I feel like, I got to score more, got the lead and keep shooting. Don't be frustrated because I'm missing shots, just try to find the basket.

Q. What was going through your minds after you foul the three-point shooter at the end of regulation with five seconds to go? How tough was it to come back from that?
JACOB PULLEN: It was a smart play. When we walked to the free-throw line before I made the free throw, we said in the huddle, and Holloway and Jackson was right next to the huddle, they heard us say, We foul when they crossed half, because we were up three, we wanted to put them on the free-throw line, so then we would get the ball back.
Holloway came back across the half, and we switched the ball stream. Denis tried to foul beforehand, but the ref didn't see it. And then Chris went to foul again, and Holloway made a smart play and put the ball up in the rim.
After that, we just was thinking, we in for it. It's a battle. That's just when it kept going. Every time we thought the game was over with, like I said, they made another tough shot to send it to another overtime.
CURTIS KELLY: I think the refs was doing a great job. They made the call that they seen. They made a decision and they decided it was a foul. We disagreed or whatever. But in my mind, I just had a big sigh and just said, Let's go out and play some more basketball, and that's what we did.

Q. Curtis, when you left Connecticut two years ago, did you ever think you would walk off the court in a Sweet 16 game with Kansas State fans chanting your name? Did you and Holloway have anything to say to each other about how the two city kids played?
CURTIS KELLY: No, I never thought it would be this way. It's a dream come true. But it's still more I want to do here and still more I think we can accomplish. This is truly a blessing. I owe it to me team and Coach Martin . I'm just happy to be here, happy to be a part of it.
And Holloway played a great game tonight. We both know each other very well. I love him. He had a great game. He didn't want to lose either. I think he showed a lot of heart on the court. He showed he didn't want to go home.

Q. Denis, where does this rank maybe among your most memorable games you've been involved with? Curtis, talk about Denis, what he was able to do tonight, especially during regulation.
CURTIS KELLY: I think Denis did a great job. I always look for Denis and Jake to do a great job. You know, that's they job for us on this team.
I think he controlled the ball well. I owe my scoring to him, him and Jake. Them two got me the ball down low, cleared it out, let me go to work. That just shows how much they believe in me, how much they knew I wanted to win this game, too.
DENIS CLEMENTE: I don't know. I don't know.
DENIS CLEMENTE: Maybe. I don't know.
CURTIS KELLY: Most memorable games?

Q. In these close games, Jake, is there a change of approach or a change of mindset for you? It seemed like you almost had another gear tonight despite the overtimes and despite the foul trouble?
JACOB PULLEN: Our coaches do an amazing job. Scott and Brad, before the season even starts, they put it in our mind we have to be in the best shape possible for games like this. Frank, Brad, all them, when we do our individual workout, they say, End of a game, you have to come off a screen and make a shot. He didn't lose faith in me. I missed a few shots. Denis and Frank kept running plays to get me the open shot. You know, I made few of them. It was just one of those moments where mentally, you know you're tired physically, but mentally you have to square your body and shoot the ball.

Q. Jacob, you touched on it, but how physically and mentally taxing was a game like this? Seems you have the game won and they come back twice.
JACOB PULLEN: It was an emotional rollercoaster. I hit the shot at the end of the game, I'm thinking, That's game, that's the nail in the coffin. We foul. They shoot three free throws. Five more minutes in the huddle we telling each other, Five more minutes, it's ours. We wanted more. We knew Xavier wanted it, too. We do it again. I was hoping this time that Crawford didn't shoot one of those shots that he shot lasts time from almost halfcourt and make it. It was one of those ones where you get a hand up, but you got to pray that he does miss it so we can go home.
It's a tough game. When it gets down to these last few teams, nobody wants their season to end. As a team, we have to be mentally tougher than everybody.

Q. Denis, you took a hard spill at the end of the first half. When did you regain your senses and did that motivate you to come out strong in the second half?
DENIS CLEMENTE: I think so. I think that's what happened. I think in the first half, we start playing really well in the first 10 minutes, but the last 10 minutes, we start, like, (indiscernible) a little bit. But we came strong the second half, then we start, you know, keeping track.
I think that's why we got a W.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. We'll dismiss the student-athletes. We'll continue with questions for Coach Martin.

Q. Talk about the last five seconds of regulation, then the end of the overtime when Crawford hit the big shot, your emotions.
COACH MARTIN: We did exactly what we've done every time we've been in that same situation, in regulation that is. Exactly what we do. Every time we've been in that situation at Kansas State with me as head coach, we've done the same thing. Denis had the kid in a bear hug at the line. They allowed him to play through that. The foul on the three-point shot was the correct call. Our guy fouled him. That's a breakdown on our part.
But, you know, we still got a clean look at the end of regulation. We didn't make it. Then we huddled up. We were great. Our assistants were phenomenal. I'm trying to figure out in our mind what we need to do offensively, which was continue to pound the ball inside. I thought we had to do that there in the overtimes, for two reasons. Number one, our guards are a little tired, so you can't rely on perimeter jump shots. We got to get inside and get to the foul line.
Curt and Jamar both responded. They both gave us good play inside in the overtimes. At the end of the first overtime, we talked all week that if we're in those situations, and we switch a ball screen, which we did, with Crawford, he will shoot it from the halfcourt line. He can't switch the ball screen with your hands down. We let him jump up and shoot it. I don't care where he's at. When he's playing well and he's been playing well for about four weeks here, I've seen him play for a long time, he gets that feel that he's in right now, he's going to score that ball.
He jumped up. Give him credit. 32-foot shot, down three. Now we got to regroup and go at it again.
See, that's where having upperclassmen guards helps you get through these kind of games, 'cause Denis and Jake never got rattled. Even though Jake made a couple of mistakes, I think they took a one-point lead, I'm not sure what it was, and we ran a little set that we run when we need the ball in those two little guys' hands. Jake jumped up and made a three to put us back up.
It took a lot of courage for our guys to stay the course, especially what happened in regulation and overtime.

Q. The mental toughness that your team showed epitomizes what this team has been about this season. Talk about that and put this win in perspective.
COACH MARTIN: It's huge. That's what these kids are all about. You look at the makeup of our team. Somebody asked about Curtis thinking about being in this situation. Same thing with Denis, same thing with Jacob, Jamar Samuels, Dominique Sutton. Chris Merriewether, how about him playing so many minutes in overtime because of foul trouble and eventually Dominique fouling out, playing his heart out?
It's what our team is made up of, a bunch of guys that have an unbelievable will. This is another step in us trying to rebuild this K State program. When we play on Saturday, there's only eight teams left playing in the country. That's a huge step for our program.

Q. I wanted to get your impression on Denis tonight, everything he meant to you guys, knowing you have another practice with them now after tonight.
COACH MARTIN: I told him since before we played our first game in this tournament that nothing will make mow happier than have to continue to run practice. I enjoy being around him in practice so much.
But Denis is phenomenal. Denis has a will like no other. He has tremendous courage. There were moments in that game when things weren't going right for us, he buckled in and made plays offensively for himself and others to allow us to kind of just relax and be able to continue to go forward.
But Xavier's pretty darn good. People don't understand just how good those guys are. No different than BYU was a couple games before. These were two good teams we just beat.

Q. Did you get to see any of Butler? Your initial thoughts on Butler?
COACH MARTIN: I refused to watch someone else play until we're done playing the game that's next on our schedule. Some people are good doing that. Maybe I'm "New Day ADD" coach or something. I have to maintain my focus on the next opponent, which is Xavier. I'll be up all night tonight. But that's what it's all about.
Being awake all night, I believe Brad Underwood has the scout for Butler, so he watched them play a hundred game, watched them play tonight. He and I will meet. He'll prep me. Our assistants are phenomenal doing that, the way they prepare me and the team. Then I'll watch tape all night. We'll visit again in the morning.
Usually I say, How do you get the guys ready to play Saturday? I say, I'll get after them. I can't get after them tomorrow. We have to coach through their mind, their spirit, enthusiasm, so we can find a way to come out here on Saturday and compete with a big-time Butler team.

Q. Those of us who know Curtis know a really nice kid who had tremendous potential. When you got him, was there a point when you saw the light start to go on?
COACH MARTIN: I shouldn't say I know him. I've seen Curt play since he was a ninth grader in high school. I know everybody that knows Curt. His family, his coach, AAU. We're all -- from when I was a high school coach, AAU coach, we're all good friends. I always felt that Curt could be a big-time player, always felt that way.
Last year was hard for him, having to sit out. Especially after the year before he dislocated an elbow, couldn't practice and play. You're talking about somebody who hasn't really practiced. He practiced last year, but hadn't played in two years. Here coming down the stretch, he's really, really come on. He'll tell you, he still drives me nuts, but he's a big-time kid. Like I tell him all the time, I say, Curt, I'm just not going to accept you not being as good as you can be. Other people might quit you. I'm not quitting on you. I'll fight you too the end. He embraces that. He's a kid that really wants to get better.
I'll tell you what he is, he's a heck of a teammate. Players love him. Our team loves him. Coaches love him. As he continues to improve, sky's the limit for him.

Q. Could you put into words, 22 years since Kansas State waited for a game like this, what this means to you, and also could you imagine what Aggieville must be like now?
COACH MARTIN: I wish I was 21 years old and in there right now. I would be, in the day, having fun if I was in Aggieville right now.
It's great. You know, learning the incredible history of Kansas State basketball, you talk about 22 years ago. 22 years ago Kansas State had more NCAA wins than the University of Kansas, and somehow that kind of got away from Kansas State. How? Why? I don't know. It's not my problem.
My challenge and our challenge and these kids' challenge has been to reconnect with that incredible history. It's one of the proudest college basketball traditions in the history of college basketball. When you look in the stands and I see Ernie Barrett, 82 years old, living it through this team, it's big-time. You know, we talked to our team about it all the time, whether it's Ernie Barrett, Mitch Richmond, Jack Parr, whoever, Tex Winter, Jack Gardener. If I start calling out names here, I'll be here till tomorrow morning, not scouting Butler.
But it makes me proud that these kids have embraced that, to get that passion of K State basketball going again.

Q. Could you talk about in the overtime periods it seems you made a big point to get inside and Curt and Jamar got it going.
COACH MARTIN: It was our point throughout the game. Unfortunately, we missed shots. I told Curt at halftime, We've gotten you seven shots, one jump shot, six layups, you shot two air balls in the six layups. I said, You got to make them shots, man.
Jamar didn't play well early in the game. But that's where he's shown some maturity and growth. He didn't play well early, and he almost went into that little shell that he goes into and starts fouling. But he was able to snap out of it. He played those overtimes with four fouls. Not only did he play with four fouls, but he made plays for us to help us win the game. He did the things we need him to do to help us.
That was a big part of our game plan, was rebounding, get the ball inside. We didn't rebound, but we got it inside and somehow we managed to figure out a way to win.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH MARTIN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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