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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: PITTSBURGH


March 15, 2012


Jordan Henriquez

Frank Martin

Rodney McGruder

Angel Rodriguez


PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

Kansas State テや 70
Southern Mississippi テや 64


THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by Kansas State.テつ Coach Martin, if you could give us a quick overview.
COACH MARTIN:テつ Hats off to Southern Miss.テつ We're one of those teams that the more I watched them on film, the more concerned I got because of their experience, their athleticism and their toughness.
You know, I told our guys today, I could be wrong, I'm not a huge statistician, but I think that's the fewest offensive rebounds we've grabbed in our five years at K State.テつ Yet big stat going into the game was who was going to win that battle, and they kicked our tails in rebounding.
Like I told the guys, there's nothing we can do to change that right now and there's nothing that we can do to worry about that.テつ That caused us a problem, but we were able and fortunate to score a couple more points than them.テつ Now we get another opportunity to correct that next time out.
Southern Miss, the more I watch them, they're good.テつ They're tough.テつ They're a hard matchup.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll now take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Angel, there was a stretch late in the game where I think you took a three early in on the shot clock.テつ Coach sat you down but didn't say anything to you.テつ Is it worse when he chews you out or when he doesn't say anything?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ It's the same thing to me because the fact he took me out means that I did something wrong.テつ When he doesn't say anything to me, the assistant do.テつ They do a great job of telling me what I did wrong, what I got to do to make it better.

Q.テつ Any chance you're an A‑Rod fan?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ No (smiling).

Q.テつ Rodney, can you tell us a little bit about the arc of the season.テつ It looks like in the beginning of the year you had a lot of single‑digit games in scoring.テつ This is your third 30‑point game.
RODNEY McGRUDER:テつ My teammates and coaches, you know, they just have a lot of confidence in me.テつ I have confidence in myself.テつ Just got in a rhythm.テつ I've been fortunate enough to have great games and things like that.

Q.テつ Jordan, big secondary scoring contribution today after Rodney.テつ Really four of the last five games.テつ Has anything changed for you in the last couple weeks or specifically today?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ:テつ Yeah, uhm, my confidence has changed a lot.テつ I remember when coach was talking to me before the KU game.テつ He specifically told me about Jeff Whitney, how he was a player a year ago that didn't get on the floor, how much of a game performer he is now, how much of a difference he is on the floor now offensively and defensively.
Something triggered in my mind.テつ From that point on, I've just tried to be as consistent as I can.

Q.テつ What is it like to have a guy like Jordan behind you on defense that can erase mistakes and block shots?
RODNEY McGRUDER:テつ I would say it's great to have a guy like that back there because you know if you slip on defense or you get back‑cut, he has your back.テつ There's nothing better than that.
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ Especially with the way we play, we pressure the ball from the halfcourt.テつ So there's sometimes we play good guys.テつ Sometimes guys are going to go by us.テつ You know, we're fortunate enough to have him there to save us when that happens.

Q.テつ Rodney, I'm assuming you guys are going to watch this next game here.テつ What are you going to be looking for?テつ In general, how exciting is it for you to make it to this next round?
RODNEY McGRUDER:テつ It's very exciting.テつ We're very fortunate to make it to this next round.テつ We are going to look at whoever wins this game.
Our coaches do a tremendous job scouting.テつ So we just have to leave that into our coaches' hands.テつ We go over scout tonight.

Q.テつ They got up five, then y'all went on the run.テつ What were you able to do the last 10 minutes of the game to slow them down?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ I think all that happened because coach is always talking to us and telling us, especially in this tournament, things are going to make run.テつ His words are, We got to stop the bleeding.テつ They made a great run.
But we were fortunate enough to, you know, take the punch and stop the bleeding by making another run, getting stops, executing on offense.

Q.テつ Jordan, if Syracuse wins, how does Fab Melo not playing change things for you?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ:テつ I mean, they're a great team.テつ There's a reason they're a top‑five team in the country.テつ I don't know how much of a difference it's going to be.テつ Whatever we have to do to prepare for Syracuse, with or without him, we're going to do it the right way.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, guys, very much.テつ We'll continue with questions for Coach Martin.

Q.テつ Frank, Rodney doesn't seem to like talking about himself that much.テつ Can you give us an idea of what unlocked this guy this season?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Go back and read some of my quotes when that was taking place back in November and maybe even early December.テつ I said I worry about our economy, I worry about inflation, I don't worry about Rodney McGruder.
He's an awesome kid.テつ He's worked his tail off to grow every year.テつ He embraces coaching.テつ He wants you to push him.テつ Then he's like a sponge 'cause he wants to learn in what way he can get better.
When you see guys like him have the success he's having individually, it makes you feel real proud, because that's what it's about.テつ You put in the time, you commit yourself to the people that believe in you, and you go get better.
As a coach and a teammate, there's a reason we're playing on Saturday, 'cause of his personality, his work ethic, his toughness.テつ He continues to do that for us.テつ He's phenomenal.

Q.テつ Jordan gave the anecdote about Jeff Whitney.テつ Can you speak to his development over the last five seasons and where he's come since he's been at Kansas State?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Everyone made such a big deal when he went through that moment in the middle of the year, that he's in the doghouse, I don't like him.テつ Has nothing to do with all that stuff.
It's about a young man that believed in who we are at K State.テつ It's about a young man that came to K State, you know.テつ I don't like using the word 'project' because it makes it sound like he wasn't any good.テつ He was just a guy who we believed had a chance.テつ He's worked his tail off.テつ He's gained over 30 pounds.テつ He was a non‑qualifier coming out of high school, so had to go to prep school.
The guy made the Big 12 honor roll three consecutive semesters.テつ He did everything we asked.テつ Then he started the year pretty good.テつ He had a couple triple‑doubles early in the year.テつ Then he's a kid.テつ He got a little full of himself.テつ He took a step back.テつ You know, he refocused.
That trust that I have in him, that he's got in us, is what allowed him to refocus.テつ Ever since that, I don't even remember when it was, because I didn't pay attention, it's just something that we had to do to get him back in the right place.テつ Ever since then he's been awesome.テつ I couldn't be prouder.
See, in today's day and age, a lot of kids will act selfishly.テつ They don't like it when you try to get them to do the right thing.テつ He's embraced that.テつ That's what our kids do.テつ That's why it's so much fun to coach this team.テつ They appreciate that.テつ They want you to help them.テつ They don't got the answers.テつ They want you to help them figure that out.

Q.テつ They hit six of their first nine shots to open the second half, then ice cold for a stretch.テつ Did anything change defensively?
COACH MARTIN:テつ No, that's a huge concern of mine coming into this game.テつ Like I said, the more I watched them, they've got guys that make what we coaches call 'hard shots' because, you know, they don't need space, they don't need someone else.テつ They can go back shots on their own.テつ They've got a whole lot of 'em.
I thought defensively, I couldn't be prouder of the way we played.テつ Our offense got stagnant in certain stretches of the game.テつ But defensively I thought we played well.テつ I thought we kept 'em in front of us for most times.テつ When they did beat us off the dribble, it wasn't a blow‑by, which allowed Jordan to protect the rim.
The only thing I was a little disappointed in was our rotations for charges.テつ I thought we had some charges to be taken that we didn't take.
They're going to make some shots.テつ That's what Angel said what he said, Stay the course, stay the course.テつ That's part of our preparation.テつ They got guys that make hard shots.テつ When you play guys like that, you have to tip your hat off to 'em when they make some of those.テつ You have to remain consistent with what you're doing.

Q.テつ When Rodney has a game like that, is there any indication you see as it's going along, or do you have a sense he's going to have a sense he's going to have a night like that?
COACH MARTIN:テつ He's pretty consistent, that's every game.テつ The thing that happens in league play, which makes what he's done a lot more impressive, is that we all know each other so well.テつ Teams have watched him play a hundred times.テつ We played the other team before.テつ It's a little easier to neutralize a good player.
Never take him out.テつ Never going to take him out, but neutralize.テつ When I say 'take out,' I don't mean hurt.テつ I mean eliminate him from having a positive impact in the game.テつ That's what makes what he's done so much more impressive.
He's an awesome kid, just an awesome kid.テつ I can sit here and rave about him till Saturday before we go out and play.

Q.テつ You've become a pretty popular pick the last couple days to upset Syracuse.テつ How do you feel about the matchup there?
COACH MARTIN:テつ Listen, everyone had us walking by Southern Miss playing on Saturday.テつ I said the other day, I don't really pay attention to all that stuff.テつ We study the opponent and then we got to prepare to do the things we got to do to try and find success.
Syracuse is awesome.テつ I heard the question about Fab Melo to Jordan.テつ It's not like this is the first time it happens.テつ They've won Big East games without Fab Melo.テつ That team understands how to play with him and without him.
Fab becomes an unbelievable presence in a game.テつ But they know what they have to do without him.テつ It's not like this is their first rodeo without Fab.テつ They've had to go out and win hard games on the road against Big East teams.
Coach Boeheim has won a million‑27 games, or whatever, he's won.テつ I think he knows what he's doing.
His team, if they're the one that wins today, his team will be as prepared as any team in the country.

Q.テつ Could you speak to the question I asked the players about Jordan, how it changes how you can defend teams.テつ Talk about his shot‑blocking ability.
COACH MARTIN:テつ Yeah, it's one of the reasons why Angel earlier in the year, his minutes were so inconsistent.テつ He didn't want to guard the way we guard.テつ He wanted to be safe.テつ He didn't want to get beat.テつ I kept telling him, You better not get beat.テつ But if your man plays out of control and we take teams out of structure, make them play one‑on‑one, you got this guy behind you over here, that's going to erase a lot of those one‑on‑one games.テつ He's gotten better at that as time has gone by.
Jordan is very in tune right now.テつ Where he's gotten a lot better, because what people do with him, you saw it today, they'll bring him out, his man out, to set ball screens up on the floor to try and drag him away from the rim.テつ He doesn't stand around.
That's where his improvement has been tremendous.テつ He handles the ball screens defensively.テつ When guys go, they look up, he's standing there.
There's a reason we set a school record for fewest points allowed since the shot clock era at K State.テつ 'Cause guys are really, really trusting in each other and our concepts, and Jordan has done a great job protecting the rim.

Q.テつ You joked yesterday about how Angel is accelerating the amount of gray hair on your head.テつ At the end he's the one making the layup, at the free‑throw line.テつ Speak to his mental toughness.
COACH MARTIN:テつ You're talking about still believing in him after he shot those air balls and all that stuff?

Q.テつ Yes.
COACH MARTIN:テつ Maybe I should have done what the gentleman said.テつ I should have screamed at him. テつHe would have made them instead of missed.
You either have trust in someone or you don't.テつ It's not like I trust him today, don't trust him tomorrow.テつ It's not like I trust him with 10 minutes to go and not trust him with two minutes to go.
When you coach, you know, you create faith in players.テつ And that's what the season brings, it brings that trust and that confidence in each other.
You know, he made some mistakes.テつ He's a freshman.テつ You should have asked the gentleman from the NCAA sitting next to my bench, what I kept telling him, These freshmen are going to drive me nuts, make me cry on national TV.
But my trust in kids doesn't come from a mistake in a game.テつ My trust in kids comes from that daily commitment to get better, to try and do the right things.テつ And when they do that, it's my job to trust 'em, not to run away from them.
And I've got tremendous faith in him.テつ That's why you saw him out there making the plays he made towards the end of the game.

Q.テつ You talk about not taking the tournament for granted.テつ Now this is four straight years.テつ Every time you've been here, you got out of the first round and advanced to play again.テつ Talk about the significance of doing that.
COACH MARTIN:テつ It's awesome.テつ You know, we've elevated our program to one of the better programs in the country.テつ We have been in this thing consistently.テつ I don't know how many people can claim they've been in it four out of five years.テつ We've been fortunate enough to play good teams and win our first‑round games.
But you can't worry about all that stuff, 'cause we won three games two years ago, that's not going to help us against whoever on Saturday.テつ We have to do what I've told the team:テつ we got to be on a bunch of one‑game winning streaks.テつ That's all we got to do.テつ You know I'm always talking about the next game, that's the only things that matters.
We can't worry about Sweet 16, we can't worry about yesterday.テつ We got to worry about the next game.テつ Just put our efforts and our energy to focus in for that moment, then go out and do the best we can.テつ If it's good enough, awesome.テつ Let's go jump up and down and love everything that comes with that.テつ If it's not, I'm still going to be proud as heck of these guys that line up and go for it and have made us one of the better programs in the country.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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