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March 26, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
THE MODERATOR: We welcome Kansas State student-athletes, the five starters. Coach Martin will join us momentarily. Let's start directing questions to Kansas State student-athletes.
Q. How much sleep did you get last night, after all the text messages and congratulations?
DOMINIQUE SUTTON: I really didn't get too much sleep last night. I couldn't sleep, you know. Like you say, all the text messaging, the phone calls, people congratulating us. I didn't go to sleep till 3, 3:30.
But, you know, it was tough, but I'm well-rested, getting ready for the day, preparing for Butler as the day go on. I didn't get too much sleep.
JAMAR SAMUELS: I turned my phone on airplane mode last night so I could try to get some sleep. I mean, we're in the Elite 8 now. It's pretty exciting. I got a good night's rest. Talked to my mom early this morning. I'm feeling pretty well right now.
JACOB PULLEN: I didn't sleep at all. I stayed up till like 4. I was just excited. I laid there staring at the wall. TV was on and everything.
CURTIS KELLY: I didn't get too much sleep. I stayed up all night thinking about what's ahead. I was excited. I was real excited. I was thinking about the game, thinking about the game we got ahead. That's about it.
DENIS CLEMENTE: Well, last night, I couldn't go to sleep. I went to sleep, like, 3 in the morning. But I stayed waking up. Just can't believe where we're at right now. I open my eyes, say, That's for real, what I'm doing right now. And I kept waking every 15 minutes, just relive the moment.
Q. Jamar, talk about your emergence yesterday, getting back in the flow of things with the NCAA tournament, stepping up. Talk about the toughness that you have in the paint to help to drive this K State machine.
JAMAR SAMUELS: I'm not sure. We played extremely well, me and Curt. It was an extremely exciting game. For me to come out of a terrible slump, play extremely well, go to the Elite 8, it feels good.
But all I said to the man that's two seats next to me, he played extremely well down low. He picked up the slack for the bigs.
CURTIS KELLY: I think all the bigs did well. I think we started to foul a little bit early. That's just because we try to be physical and aggressive. But, you know, I just try to do my best. I think Luis Colon and Wally Judge, they did a great job. I remember Lou finishing to put us up 2. Everybody played well. Jamar played excellent in overtime. So I was (indiscernible) those guys.
Q. Staying up watching TV, did you get a sense of how historic this game has already become in the aftermath of playing in it?
JACOB PULLEN: Yeah, you know, just even -- I wasn't even watching SportsCenter, just seeing it flash across the news, flicking through channels, it was a two-overtime game. People see both teams gave it their all. 30 years they'll still look back on this game, talk about one of the greatest games that's been played in the Sweet 16.
Q. Curt, how much different do you feel right now than your last year at UConn? What's the biggest situation in situations from your old school?
CURTIS KELLY: I'm doing better on the court. But I think that things changed for me off the court, too. I think that's overlapped for me doing so well on the court. You know, I got in better condition. I have a better family here, K State. I'm doing better in school. All them things is contributing to me doing so well here.
Q. Do you feel better in school?
CURTIS KELLY: I think I'm just tired of sitting on the bench and failing. You get tired of doing things the wrong way, it push you to want to do it the right way. Me being here, Coach Martin getting me here helped me a lot. I got great teammates that push me, too. I ain't never had that at UConn really.
Q. Jake, the other day when you got here you talked about how you thought some people didn't think Kansas State was that good, that you were lucky. After what the country saw last night, do you still think that's the case?
JACOB PULLEN: I don't know, you know. Maybe, you know. Maybe some people still feel that way. Maybe some people think we just get the luck of the draw. I seen things that say we haven't played a team from a power six conference. That's not our fault. We're just trying to win a game at a time. We can't worry about who we have to play until we have to play them.
Maybe people will believe we can win on Saturday. Maybe people will say we're legit. Until then, we have to try to win every game we play.
Q. Curtis, what do you think when you transfer from UConn to here, what do you think the perception was of what kind of player you were nationally?
CURTIS KELLY: I don't know. I don't think a lot of people thought I was going to come here and doing the things I'm doing here now. It's a big change. I progressed a lot. But I'm still down on myself a lot because I still feel like there's more I can do. By the grace of God I'm doing better and I'm succeeding a little bit more.
But I don't know what people thought about me. I try not to worry about what people think. I just try to play my game and do the things I need to do to success. I worry more about what my coaches and teammates think than what anybody else think.
Q. What is it like to play for Coach Martin? We hear a lot of times modern athletes don't like to have coaches shout at them to try to get them to play better. You seem to be thriving under this kind of coaching style.
DENIS CLEMENTE: The benefit of play for Frank I think is because he speak Spanish and I can understand him better, you know. I think that the benefit for me. I be for real (smiling).
But he give me some more confidence, man. Just give me the confidence he give me, the way I want to play. I got to give credit for that.
And I like when he get mad at me because you take it as a challenge. He get mad at me. I say next play, coach, watch, I gonna show you something, I gonna do this. You know what I'm saying? And then I think, just can't say, staying here, give me the opportunity to come to K State and play for him.
JACOB PULLEN: Like Denis said, a lot of players have talent, they don't like to be coached, they don't like to be pushed, they don't like for people to tell them what to do. When you want to get better, you want to accept that challenge. That's what Frank does. Every day in practice, he challenges us. When we play games like last night, two overtimes, mentally and physically, we're prepared.
If we had 45-minute practices where Frank just walked around told everybody, Good job, you know, we have no chance yesterday. But instead, we go out there, we compete against each other three hours, two and a half hours, however long it takes. He don't set a time. However long it takes for him to feel like we competed and we did what we needed to accomplish in practice, that's how long practice is.
That's the best thing about playing for a coach like that, he challenges us every day.
Q. Jacob, how much of Butler have you seen? What are your initial impressions of what kinds of challenges they will present?
JACOB PULLEN: I haven't seen a lot. But we saw some last night after the game. They're a good team. Any team that can get on a winning streak with 20-something games going into the tournament, to continue that streak, that's impressive.
They're really smart. Their basketball IQ is great as a team. They expose weaknesses of other teams. They're patient offensively. For us we got to try to do what we do to every other team, we got to try to really attack, get them in foul trouble, try to make them really go into the depth on their bench. That's somewhere where we succeed at. So, you know, it should be a good matchup.
Q. Jake, you and Denis obviously combine for 44% of the scoring. When the two guys are on top of their game, tell me how unbeatable you think this team is.
JACOB PULLEN: Well, we're a national championship caliber team when all five of us up here are playing to our best ability, when Dominique is rebounding, getting to the free-throw line. The great thing about this team this year, so much pressure taken off of me and Denis's back. Last year we felt we had to score every game. This year, we beat Texas. Me and Denis didn't have 20 points together. Jamar came to play. Dominique came too play. A lot of pressure taken off our shoulders. Any night anybody up here on this stage can show out and control the game.
Q. Going back to Coach Martin, was there a learning curve with getting used to the way he coaches or was he pretty up front with you in saying, I'm going to coach you a certain way? Did you have to learn that or was it that way from the start?
DOMINIQUE SUTTON: I mean, it was a learning experience coming from -- going back from my freshman year, coming in the middle of December, it happened right away to his defensive style, the way he wanted, you know, his style. I mean, it was an adjustment for me. Me coming right in the mix, really trying to help the team win in the different aspect. I mean, you pretty much catch on to it.
It show, we won games. The way he wanted it, I mean, aggressive on the ball, pressure the ball. Like I say, it was just a learning experience for me. Right now I'm still learning the game of basketball and really, you know, trying to win the team in any different aspect.
Q. Jamar, you are all 19, 20 years old. Is fatigue any kind of an issue? Is that something that you are concerned about at all after that long game?
JAMAR SAMUELS: Not at all 'cause all of us play AAU basketball, you know what I'm saying? AAU basketball, we play at least five or six games in one weekend. So fatigue isn't really an issue for us. Just trying to hydrate, stay focused for the game on Saturday.
Q. Curtis was saying his teammates had to push him to get him to where he is now. How did y'all have to push him this last year? What's the biggest difference you see in him now?
JACOB PULLEN: When Curt first got on campus, he was like 270. So the biggest way we pushed him was just making him work. Curt followed us. He wanted to get better. He saw how hard everybody was working in pre-season and summer conditioning. He didn't mope. He didn't say, We didn't do this at UConn, try to rebel against it. He got along with the team. He pushed his-self to get in shape. He made sure he made all the sprints. Scott did a great job of getting us in the best shape.
Wherever we run, the last person got to do double. Curt never wanted to be last. That's the type of thing that get you in shape, the type of motivation he had. He's just improved so much since then, day one, whether it being a great teammate, scoring the ball. He's just improved overall.
DOMINIQUE SUTTON: Like Jacob say, when he first got here, he was 270. He worked hard to get his-self in shape and to help this team. You know, he the type of guy we needed to score the ball around the rim, different things like that. He pushed his-self to be the player that he is today.
Q. Jamar, talk about your legs, your tiredness, things like that coming off yesterday's game.
JAMAR SAMUELS: We just got to focus in. You know what I'm saying? We watched the personnel last night when we got back to the hotel. They're a good team. They beat Syracuse. Syracuse is the No. 1 seed. I just still feel as though we really have to focus in on this team.
If we do, hopefully it will be a good outcome on Saturday, cutting down the nets.
Q. Jacob, a lot of times we see in the regional finals teams are pretty tight. Do you feel the anticipation of the Final Four at this time, that it's going to be different with the Final Four on the line?
JACOB PULLEN: No. You know, we're a loose team. We have fun together. We enjoy every moment that we spend with each other. We're excited. We're antsy to play. Any team would be antsy to play. It's a big game. At the same time, we're still focused. We're still calm. We feel like we're taking another step towards where we want to be at the end of our season.
We'll be relaxed. We understand the pressure that's there, but we also have fun while we're doing it.
COACH MARTIN: Are you sure you're going to be relaxed? I might be screaming at you (smiling).
JACOB PULLEN: That will relax me (smiling).
Q. You mentioned cutting down the nets. I don't know the last time you were able to do that, a conference championship or anything like that. When you were coming up watching college basketball, is there any moment you remember watching cut down the nets on the TV, thinking that's cool?
JAMAR SAMUELS: Yeah, before we came, we was in Texas, actually had to cut down the nets, change the nets, before we played Texas.
Growing up, you know what I'm saying, I lived in the DMV area. I was watching a game when Maryland won the national championship. Seeing them cut down the nets seemed pretty cool.
I'm almost there, you know what I'm saying? This is a dream that I dreamed when I was a kid. But I wasn't even liking college basketball like that. But I'm almost here. So it feels really good right now.
Q. Jake, how do you respond to people that are calling you the best player in this tournament so far and comparing you to Seth Curry, the tournament he had last year?
JACOB PULLEN: I didn't even know that. But, you know, if they gonna say that, they have to say this is one of the best teams in the tournament. Everything that I've done is because of my teammates. I don't score the ball if Denis don't past it to me; if Curt don't get doubled, he don't kick out to me; if Jamar don't get an offensive rebound, don't kick out to me; if Dom don't penetrate and kick out to me. My teammates do a great job of getting me in positions where I can score.
My teammates also do a great job of taking pressure off me when I miss shots. No big thing. I miss a shot, Curt get the rebound and score. Those type of comparisons is great. But at the end of the day, I want to cut down nets. You can have the best tournament and lose, then you get nothing. You get nothing to remember, but you scored some points.
Only thing that you really want to remember is cutting down nets.
JAMAR SAMUELS: That's tough for me to follow up right there. He answered that question right there. I don't know, he get an A plus from me for that one. Yeah, I mean, he's one of the good players I ever play with. By far this is the best team I played with. I'm happy to be a part of this rollercoaster that we're going through right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll continue with questions for Coach Martin.
Q. Talk about your two starting guards this season, what they've meant for you, how well they've played despite having an undersized back court. Everybody talks about how guard play is so important in the NCAA tournament. Is that proving to be true?
COACH MARTIN: Well, that's why they've been growing together for the past three years. Started two years ago when Denis was redshirting and Jacob was a freshman, Jacob had to guard Denis every single possession of every practice. Denis started making Jacob understand how hard college basketball is at that moment. That continued last year when we started playing together.
They are the spirit of our team. Why do you need to have those senior guards? Because when you get in this tournament and you end up in games like the one we were in yesterday, this is not football and baseball, where after every play you get a signal from the sideline and you spend 40 seconds trying to figure out what's next play is. Catcher don't look in the dug out and figure out what next pitch needs to be thrown. The game continues to be played. Never stops.
The people that make the decisions on the floor offensively and defensively, when the game does not stop, are your guards. And if they are too young, they get wrapped up in the emotion of the last possession, it affects your team in the next possession. That's where upperclassmen guards help you succeed because they understand the only thing that matters is the next play, not the last one.
Q. Talk about the importance of your post players, Jamar and Curtis in particular. When they're on their game, how beatable are you guys?
COACH MARTIN: I mean, we can play great and get beat. That's basketball. The other team might play a little better than us.
The only way you can succeed is with balance. We got to have balance. We got to have -- we've led the country in free-throw shooting because we pressure the rim. Through post-ups, through driving the ball, offensive rebounding, all kinds of different ways, we pressure the rim. The reason that Jacob can jump up and make those two threes in overtime is because we had attacked the paint six consecutive possessions before those plays. Jamar and Curtis had delivered.
Now it makes the defense have to play more conservative, which gives them that little space he needs to be able to jump up and get a clean shot.
You got to have balance. You can't be one-dimensional and have a chance to succeed in the long-term.
Q. As someone who has coached in high school, worked your way up, what are your thoughts on the term 'mid-major' and if there is a difference between that level of school and the major conferences, what do you think it is?
COACH MARTIN: I think that whole 'mid-major' thing is maybe reference to schools that don't spend as much money in basketball as compared to other schools, from recruiting. I can tell you at Northeastern, when I was there, we didn't consider ourself as mid-major. We didn't speak about that. We went in and beat West Virginia, beat Boston College. We never once addressed our team as being inferior to anybody else in the country.
The thing that's changed the landscape of college basketball is the schools that maybe don't have the resources to go recruit or the notoriety or don't play in a conference that has affiliations with a national TV station to get on TV every week.
What happens is you get these schools that go out and recruit these kids that are borderline, being -- going either way. These kids go there, they stay for three, four, or five years and they grow together, and then you end up seeing these teams make tremendous runs while the big-name schools that are going around chasing all the so-called pros that people don't like to scream at, you know, those kids leave. So you never get old.
That's why we've had a chance to succeed is because we have a bunch of kids that have grown up together, that have stayed together, that have been through it together. That's what's given us a chance up to this point.
Q. The players were all asked, so I'll ask you. Did you get any sleep? While you were not sleeping, what were your initial impressions of Butler?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah, I laid there -- I shouldn't say I laid there. We were in the meeting room, watched tape all night. Eventually about 3 am, I chose to go back to my room, laid there in bed, just kind of stared at the ceiling. Kind of replayed the game we just played through my mind. It's what I do every game. Think about every decision I had to make so I can reflect, so I can help myself make better decisions for the next game when the same situations occur.
Then just the thought process of Butler. From what I had started to watch on tape, the three hours before, try my best to start preparing my mind for what we need to do when we address the team today, when we start our preparation for how we want to play against them.
But in answer to your question, I didn't sleep much. That's where Sunday is right around the corner. I'll sleep a lot on Sunday.
Q. What is your impression?
COACH MARTIN: They're good. I mean, you don't win 23 games in a row by beating an average team. They're good. They're very, very good. Offensively they're tremendous. They move the basketball. They play offense at a tremendous pace. Defensively they're very underrated. They're very good defensively. They really, really congest the paint defensively. They make it difficult for you.
Then what they do that they get absolutely no credit for is how well they rebound the basketball. I don't think they get nearly the credit they deserve for the rebounders they are. They pursue the ball when they're on defense and rebounding.
Q. How much has Curt's development been a change of scenery and how much has it been a conscious decision Curt made?
COACH MARTIN: It's hard to put a percentage or a number or something next to either one of those. It's a little bit of both. He needed a fresh start. He needed to change some of the actions, some of the commitments that he wasn't making.
You know, I don't know what happened at UConn. I can tell you the reason I took Curtis Kelly, the reason I offered him a scholarship was because during the recruiting process, not once did he blame UConn for everything. He took all the responsibility. He fully understood the reason he did not succeed at UConn was because of his actions, not because of anything else. That told me something about him and the kind of kid that he is.
I knew all his people so I know he comes from a good situation. That's why we took him. And he's been great. I mean, it's been a growing process. It's taken time, but it's good to see him playing well right now.
Q. What happened to his reputation in basketball circles at the time you recruited him?
COACH MARTIN: When he was in high school, he was phenomenal. Everyone said he could be a pro. Then he went to UConn and never played. You know, someone goes somewhere, never plays, I'm sure -- I don't know. I don't ask other coaches what they think. I could care less. I don't need the coach at School A, what they think, why they would or wouldn't recruit him.
I know the UConn coaches, we spoke to them. They weren't negative about Curt. They thought he was a heck of a kid, which is what I knew he was. I just think Curt accepted the responsibility.
You can't change in life unless you accept responsibility. And Curt definitely accepted it. I think his teammates. I think he said that. They've been tremendous helping him get through the transition of getting back on the floor and playing.
Q. The mid-major theme, I'm sure when you were at Northeastern, you had trouble scheduling BCS opponents. Butler has the same struggles, too. Would Kansas State and Butler ever consider playing each other in a home-and-home series?
COACH MARTIN: That's something that Brad and I need to speak about. We've never spoken about playing. In scheduling, you pick up the phone and you try to schedule people for two reasons, at least that's the way we do it. It's my belief in scheduling. Schedule somebody non-conference that obviously is a good enough team to challenge your team, to make your team better, to get kids home when you do home-and-homes with people you recruit certain areas of the country, then you try and get these kids home.
And then last, but not least, is an opportunity to get on national TV. You want to get on TV as much as you can. That's the criteria we follow.
Brad and I never talked about playing, no.
Q. What kinds of matchup issues does Gordon Hayward present? Secondly, your practice today, will it be kind of a mental walk through as opposed to different kind of practice giving what you went through last night?
COACH MARTIN: No, I'm a raging lunatic. I'm an absolute maniac that destroys kids. That's what I've done for 26 years. I ruin their mental capacity. I make them feel inferior. I make them want to quit playing basketball. That's what I do for a living (smiling).
Of course we're going to prepare them through their minds right now. If you think I'm dumb enough to go out there and scream at those kids, as hard as they've played for us all year, you're out of the your mind, not me.
We're going to go out there, we're going to coach our kids like we have all year, through their minds. Make them understand, make them believe, make them embrace the moment so we can be as prepared as we can. That's how we coach. That's how we prepare our kids. That's how I've done it for 26 years.
It's going to be no different today. Those kids love it. They want to succeed. That's the reason why our kids play so hard, is because they live in the moment. They appreciate it. They don't feel entitled. They embrace the responsibility that comes with being a college student-athlete. That's why it's so fun to coach them.
Hayward is big-time. He's a matchup problem for everybody. 6'8", 6'9" guys that can drive the basketball the way he drives it, can shoot it, it's a problem. If you guard him small, he just takes you inside and scores over the top. If you guard him big, he drives the basketball. He's a very underrated driver of the basketball. Everyone talks about his shooting ability, which he is a very good shooter. But I think his ability to drive.
Butler does a tremendous job of driving the ball. They all attack the paint off the dribble. I think he does it as well as anyone on their team because he drives bigs. It's a big-time advantage for him.
Q. The Butler team obviously played great basketball. They might be somebody that if off the but or in the layup line, they don't look like the prototype basketball team. Is that any danger for your players to look at a team that looks a little slow or not athletic or whatever?
COACH MARTIN: If we make those decisions, then we deserve to lose. If we make those assumptions, then we deserve to lose.
Whether your name is Butler, UCLA, Kentucky, whoever, if you're playing in the Elite 8 game, you're a very good basketball team. You shouldn't be concerned about appearance. You should be concerned about the team.
As a team, they play the game the way it's supposed to be played. That's why they win games. That's why they're playing on Saturday. We're going to focus in on what makes them a very good game, not what they look like on a picture.
Q. You said earlier you were laying in bed trying to wrap your mind around the game that just took place. Are you able to grasp the epic nature of that game?
COACH MARTIN: Yeah, I know that I love watching games like that on my couch on TV. Being on the sideline, it's a -- you know...
When the season is over, I'm sure I'll able to separate and really realize. As proud as I am of our guys right now for the way they fought, to figure out a way to come on top on that game, I'm sure once I separate from the season, I'll be able to really appreciate the game itself, what could be a good game as has been played in the NCAA basketball tournament in a while.
Q. Your story has been pretty well-documented, unconventional rise. I'm sure you've said this before, do you feel like everything that's happened to you in your life as a young person, like I read you had been employed since the age of 12, has led you to this moment? Perhaps you have a greater appreciation for this than someone whose rise might have been more conventional. Seems you scrapped and fought, took advantage of any breaks you've been able to have.
COACH MARTIN: Yeah, I wouldn't know what the other side of it is like. I definitely haven't been grandfathered through this business, nor would I want to be grandfathered through this business.
I embrace the lessons that I've learned in my life. That's what makes me. That's what I try to instill so much passion into our players, to embrace the moment. Because in life, it's not about what doors open up, it's about what side of the door you choose to stay on. And opportunities come around, and if you're not prepared to take on an opportunity, willing to overcome and fight, to take advantage of that opportunity, take advantage of the moment, it's going to be a short-lived career.
I don't know what the other side of that feels like. But work doesn't bother me. That's what this country was made out of. That's what makes this such a great country. If you're willing to roll up your sleeves and work, take advantage of opportunities, you can move forward in life.
No one controls how much you can achieve or gain in this country. One of the greatest quotes I've only seen is the only thing that's fair in life is that we all get 24 hours a day. That's as fair as it gets. If you choose to lay around on the couch and not work, that's what you become. I tell our players, you play PlayStation all day, go become the best PlayStation player in the country. If you want to become a good ball player, get on the court and work.
I feel privileged that I've had the experiences I've had in my life. God has been good to me, he puts me around good people, makes me go through some hard times to best prepare me for the future.
Q. I believe someone suggested to the players your fiery coaching style. How do you assure they take it constructively? In a time like this with what happened, South Florida, how do you balance being as passionate as you have to be, plus being sensitive to the times that we live in?
COACH MARTIN: I got to be careful with that one. I might be the talk of the country if I say the wrong thing.
I don't know what happened to South Florida. I don't know what happens anywhere else. I don't know what "sensitive to the times we live in" means. I know that my responsibility is to best prepare young men to become men in the future. If anyone's ever been to my practices and they think that I am destroying kids and ruining their confidence and making them worse human beings, then maybe you got a point there.
But after 26 seasons of coaching, you might see me screaming on the sideline, I'm never trying to tear our kids down. I'm challenging them to become better, to achieve more, to be more responsible. Isn't that my job as an educator, as a coach, or is it to make their life easier and give them a false understanding of what society's all about? I'm all for making kids better. That's what I do for a living.
It's worked for me for 26 years. But I know, getting my text messages blown up by all my former players telling me, Frank, this reminds me of our high school team's play. I'm talking about guys in the NBA, guys that work real jobs for a living, guys that have gone on to whatever walks of life they've chosen to follow.
I don't know. I think my job as a teacher is to get kids prepared for the future, not to utilize or trick them to win a basketball game. If anyone tries to be sensitive to the times we live in by not being honest, truthful with young people, then you're just trying to cheat them of finding success in life and not properly preparing them for what life brings.
'Cause life ain't easy. I don't care what anyone tells me, life ain't easy. Might be some that are born into no responsibility and millions. But for 90% of the people, life ain't easy. And life is what you make out of it. The only way you do that is by working and embracing and accepting the responsibilities that come your way.
I think this country has taken a back step, a step in the wrong direction over the last 10, 15 years when it comes to that.
Q. What did you think when President Obama volunteered to add you to his cabinet? Talk about your upbringing, you probably could have succeeded in a lot of different things. Football and baseball are so big in South Florida, what led you to embrace basketball and become such an enthusiast and student of that sport?
COACH MARTIN: I thought as big a compliment as can be paid, to have the president of the United States say my name in connection, even in a joking manner, with something that he's trying to move forward. I can't speak for him, but I'd like to think that he sees the passion with which I have for my job, and he might want some of that passion to help him with his job. That's the way I took it. That's as big a compliment as I ever heard somebody use publicly.
As a kid growing up, I wanted to be the next Larry Csonka. That's all we had in South Florida. There was no basketball, no pro basketball, all we had was the Miami Dolphins. No pro baseball. My dream was to be Larry Csonka.
I went to a high school basketball game at our neighborhood high school, which is Miami Senior High, when I was in the ninth grade. I played junior high basketball. You practice two weeks, play two games, that's the season. I remember going to a game as a ninth grader and I saw the passion in that gym for that team and that sport. In my mind, I said, That's what I want to do. From that day on, I got hooked on basketball. I've tried to move forward because of that "orange pill," the way I like to call it. I've been fortunate to move forward in life.
Q. When you talked about the 26 years, the honesty, I often see you on the court, when a player turns to you after a call, you'll say, Because you did it, that was a foul. Do you notice that players' responses have changed over the years where you have to say, I'm not taking alibis for you.
COACH MARTIN: That's life. I don't want to hear any excuses. Jacob picked up, what, his third foul on a hand check. They called five straight hand checks. Where are your hands on the dribblers. Don't tell me you didn't touch him. You did. That's why they called the foul.
That's life, is accepting responsibility. Is understanding when you do something wrong, why.
We don't need him or anyone on our team having conversations with officials. Officials are going to call what they think is a foul or not a foul. That's their job. They get judged by people to do their job to the best of their abilities. If they're calling hand checks, then as a player, you got to understand, you can't do that.
But I'm all about being honest and holding people accountable. That's what this country's about. It's not about letting people do what they want to do. It's about holding people accountable. If you hold people accountable, then they'll become responsible for those things. And when they become responsible for those things, then you got a chance to move on, then you got a chance to succeed. That's the way I look at it.
Q. Last night, Coach Mack said that depth became an issue for him considering the length of the game. How big has your bench been for you in this tournament so far?
COACH MARTIN: When I get all those emails early in the year questioning rotations, I have to answer the questions at press conferences, why are you playing so many guys? I have a duty to those young men. Those young men believe in us that come to school there and they do the things we ask them to do. They're deserving of an opportunity to play. That's number one.
Number two is you got to have depth to prepare for this time of the year. You got to make sure that those kids have been exposed to game situations at this time of the year, because now you have an injury, now you have foul trouble, whatever the situation may be, then I can't act surprised if I throw someone in there that hasn't played for us all year and not find success. That's my fault. That's not their fault.
So depth is a big part of what we do. Game experience, best preparing our kids to succeed, those are all the reasons why we try to coach that way and we try to play so many people, to best prepare us for this time of year.
Q. How impressive is what Coach Stevens has done, also considering his age?
COACH MARTIN: It's big-time. I was just talking earlier about how these so-called -- I don't use the term because I don't believe in it, this mid-major stuff, they make runs when they have upperclassmen. They're as young a team as there is in college basketball. And yet he's got them playing as well as teams that got five seniors playing.
Butler has a winning culture. I spoke about this when I spoke about Xavier. The most difficult thing to build as a coach is a winning culture, to have kids, people in your program, that expect to win, that understand how hard winning is.
Winning's not easy. To win is hard. Everybody wants to win. So some people got to sacrifice more than others to try to figure out a way to win. They've got that at Butler. They've got a winning culture there.
People expect to win. People prepare to win. People work to win. I don't know their program. Brad and I, I've never even met Brad. I can't wait to shake his hand later on today. But from afar, for a guy his age, to do what he's doing, as hard as it is to win, with such a young team, that's big-time stuff.
As a coach, you've got to respect what they do there at Butler. That's big-time.
Q. How sinister is Scott Greenwalt, some of the stuff he devises, yet how good is he as a conditioning coach?
COACH MARTIN: You think I scream at them, you should see him. Screams at me when I go in the weight room, and I don't go home and cry.
It's part of what we do. It's all based on building that confidence that you have to have in life. See, I'm a big believer. It gets back to a question I was asked earlier. If you work for something, then it's that much harder for you to give up that something.
We make our guys work. We hold them accountable for everything that they do. Then we really, really try to make them work as hard as we can, whether it's in the weight room, in individual instruction in practice, to make them sacrifice. That way, when it's time to play the games, you've put in so much time to prepare that it's hard for you to give in.
See, that's what happened last night. That's why our kids were so resilient, is because they've worked so hard, that they wouldn't give in.
I use this example all the time. It's because of the culture that we're in in basketball right now. Kids get upset. At high school level, they give them more free shoes to keep them happy. Well, they lose those shoes, they don't care; they go get another pair of free shoes. If you make that kid come mow my yard two straight weeks, I'll say, You've earned a pair of tennis shoes. You think he's going to give up those tennis shoes real easy if he leaves them at the park? He's going to fight 10 guys to get his tennis shoes back.
We talk about that all the time, about earning the right. That's part of what we do. And Scott is off the charts as far as the relationship that he builds with those kids, just like us as a staff, to get those kids to work, to push through the times where they don't want to work, where they don't think they can do it. We help them get through those times. That best prepares us to the time of year, which is now, where the games get real hard. And you don't give in because you've worked so hard to earn the right.
Q. Can you look back at Denis and tell me what kind of influence maybe those games he played in Puerto Rico and Miami have on his style of play now.
COACH MARTIN: I think it's a twofold deal. Being a young kid, he developed tremendous toughness to have to compete at an early age, at a high level. And then at Miami, obviously he was a pretty good player there. But he didn't embrace the opportunity he had there. I think when he realized that he had to change places, which says a lot about who he is, he realized, just like Curtis did, I've got to change, I've got to do certain things better, which gets back to what we're talking about: kids accepting responsibility.
He did that. The toughness that he developed along with that new-found responsibility to embrace the moment, I think's allowed him to find success. And going through those difficult times has better prepared him to be able to move forward. And that's why he has an unbelievable spirit. He's got an unbelievable will. You only get those things by perservering. You don't develop will and spirit by having free things thrown at you, by life being easy. You develop those things by perservering, by overcoming, by staying the course, and by never losing your will to fight and move forward. That's what he's done, and that's what he's made our team into.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
End of FastScripts