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


March 16, 2012


Jordan Henriquez

Frank Martin

Rodney McGruder

Angel Rodriguez


PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

THE MODERATOR:¬† We're joined by Kansas State University student‑athletes.¬† Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Jordan, you have been a very good rebounding team all season.  What did Southern Miss do yesterday to keep you off the offensive glass in particular?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  They were real physical.  They sent all five guys to the glass, kind of kept us from rebounding a little bit.
But I know that overall they did out‑rebound us on the offensive end.¬† At the end of the game we came out with a win.

Q.  Angel, what have you seen of the SU defense on tape so far?  What have you seen of their press on tape?  Have you focused on how to break that at all?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:  Yeah, their guys are long, so obviously we got to be careful.  We got to make a lot of fake before we pass the ball.
When they do decide to press, they're very aggressive, so we got to stay together and help each other out.  The coaches prepared us well today in terms of, you know, our players not leaving me alone with the ball.  You know, somebody's got to stay in the middle and stuff like that.

Q.¬† Jordan, your last five games you've averaged almost 15‑10.¬† That's way up from your season averages. ¬†What has allowed you to do that?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  I could just say, uhm, my confidence level has gone up.  You know, finding the right spots on the floor, whether it's against the man or the zone, just being in my comfort zone.

Q.  Jordan, obviously the absence of Fab Melo is big for Syracuse.  What have you seen on tape?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  I got to see they didn't rebound the ball too well, playing in their zone.  But I know that they're still an aggressive team.  They still can rebound the ball well.
We're going to have to do our job of offensive rebounding against the zone, because that's what we're good at.

Q.  Rodney, you had 30 yesterday.  Really able to attack the rim against Southern Miss.  How are you planning on getting into the lane?  Are you going to be more perimeter oriented tomorrow?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  We have a lot of different styles and we prepare well for the zone.  We're going to attack the zone in a variety of ways, so...

Q.¬† Southern Miss, their president apologized today for a chant some of their band members made, racist chant, while you were at the free‑throw line yesterday.¬† Did you notice it at the time?¬† Have you heard about it or talked about it with your coach since then?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:  Yeah, I heard it.  I heard it when I was shooting the free throw.  You know, I don't pay attention to that nonsense, especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don't need no type of papers.
You know, their athletic director and the personnel from their school came to apologize.  I accepted it because there's ignorant people and I know that's not how they want to represent their university.
I moved on already.  I got a game to focus on.

Q.  Jordan, Coach Martin used to be a nightclub bouncer, he's known for being a tough guy.  How does his personality rub off on you guys on and off the court?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  Yeah, I kind of knew about that already (laughter).
You know, his personality, it helps us on the floor and off the floor.  But I'm kind of used to him now, so I've adjusted to it.
He's a motivational guy.  However way he does it, whether it's in an aggressive way or in a passionate way, we know he doesn't mean any harm, he's just trying to motivate us.

Q.  What would a win over the No.1 seed in this region and moving on to the Sweet 16 mean to you guys?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:  It would obviously mean a lot.  Regardless of their seed, a win is a win.  We're just trying to make a run in this tournament, whether we play the No.1 seed or the No.12 seed.

Q.  Do you think people focus a little too much on the intensity and the stare from Coach Martin and not enough on his coaching abilities?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  I do believe that.  They just see the guy, you might get a small clip from ESPN or something like that, you just see him getting after us.  You don't see all the hard work that he put in with us in practice and all the other things he does for us, so...

Q.¬† How has your offense changed this year without having that one go‑to guy, without Jacob?¬† How has that developed throughout the year?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  I mean, we still run the same offense.  Nothing has changed really.  Different guys step up on different occasions, you know.  That's been our success all season.

Q.  Angel, can you talk about what it's like going up against Scoop Jardine and how important point guard play can be in rounds like this?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:¬† Uhm, he's a grown man.¬† He's a veteran.¬† He obviously has experience ‑ a lot more than what I do.
But doesn't mean I'm not gonna battle, I'm not gonna play hard.  You know, I got to respect him, but I still got to do my job.

Q.  Jordan, I know you guys scored more than 30 points in the paint yesterday.  What did you see in the game film?  What ways do you plan on going down low and being more aggressive without Fab?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  We know they're aggressive with or without him.  They're long, they're a long zone.  We're going to have to do different things to disrupt them, like ball faking, shifting a lot.  That should help us.
In my case, it's just about me finding an open area and kind of staying with one of the outside guys, doing what I can to help my team.

Q.  Syracuse all season has said they're going to go as far as their two seniors take them.  When you guys have been game planing defensively, have you been trying to shut the two seniors down?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  We just really been focusing in on our principles, the way we play defense.  We don't want to change anything up, play any different against Syracuse.  We're going to play Kansas State basketball, and that's play hard defense and rebound the basketball.

Q.  Coach Martin as a recruiter, could you tell me what he's like.  What do you recall about him recruiting you?  Angel, specifically, seems like there are more than a couple players from Florida.  Is he known in Florida?  Is that a pipeline?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:¬† Yeah, he's very well‑known in Florida because he was a high school coach in Miami and won a couple state championships.¬† People respect him a lot down there.
But when he goes out to recruit you, he tells you everything exactly how it is.  He doesn't lie.  He tells you, When you come your work ethic has got to be, you know, the best because we go every day.  We don't get rest.  Our practices are extremely hard.
You know, whether you think he's scaring you or not, he just being real because he wants you to prepare the best you can.
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  When I first met him, it was in New York.  I sat down with him.  You know, he started speaking to me in Spanish.  I didn't understand what he was saying (laughter).  I couldn't respond back to him either.
He's like, Oh, you're Spanish?
I'm like, Yeah, but I don't speak it.
From then on, our relationship grew tremendously.

Q.  What were some of the lessons you learned from Jake and Denny in the first tournament run you went through?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  How to stay the course, especially from that Xavier game my freshman year, that was a tough game.  I just watched those guys, how they stayed the course.  They never got too overwhelmed or felt like too much pressure was on 'em.  They just stayed the course and dealt with everything.

Q.  Now that you are in different roles than you were two years ago, is there a way that you can use that experience to help the rest of the guys through what they're going through right now?
RODNEY McGRUDER:  It is a role that we can help the younger guys, the guys that never been here before.  We can teach them what the older guys taught us, like what Jake taught us when we came here.  We can try to share the experience with them, stay the course, you know, let's get through it together.  Not one player can go out there and beat Syracuse.  Just stay the course and stay together.
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:  Our guys have done a great job of telling me, you know, giving me the best advice they can.  So, you know, I got to follow it because they've been here before and I haven't.
So, like he said, we just got to stay together as a team because we didn't get here as an individual; we got here because of the work we put in as a team.

Q.  How do you think Syracuse's zone compares to the zone when you faced Baylor this year?
JORDAN HENRIQUEZ  I feel like Baylor's zone was a lot more passive.  Watching Syracuse on film, they're a lot more aggressive.  I know that they lead the country in steals.  So I know they're really aggressive with their zone, and that's what we have to attack.
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, thank you.
We have Frank Martin from Kansas State University.
Coach?
COACH MARTIN:  Real excited with our guys.  Our guys are extremely excited about being one of the lucky teams that's still fortunate enough to be playing.  I couldn't be prouder of the guys, whether they're older or younger, the way they've embraced their responsibilities and continue to fight to build our program.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Martin.

Q.  Jordan told a story about when you went to recruit him, you talked Spanish.  He had no clue what you were saying.  The preconceived notion about your fiery nature affects recruits, do you do anything to offset that?
COACH MARTIN:  You know, Jordan's story is absolutely true.  I was sitting there in the home visit.  I started rambling off in Spanish, because that is my natural language.  I could tell the way he was looking at me that something wasn't right (smiling).  When I finished that great first three, four sentences, he looked at me and said, Coach, I don't speak Spanish.  You can image how big I felt.
I answer your question a lot.  This is what I'll say:
My phone doesn't stop ringing with people that want me to coach their kids.  So if what I'm doing is wrong, then someone needs to tell those parents and the grandmas that write me letters every day thanking me for holding kids accountable.
I've got my own way of doing things.  It was the way I was raised.  I'm a little emotional.  I'm not scared to show my emotion in the public eye.  Some guys are real emotional in private and they have a public personality.  With me what you see is what you get.  I'm not different people in different places.

Q.  Is surviving the first weekend sort of a barometer of success?  If you're still standing in the Sweet 16, do you feel like you've done something here?
COACH MARTIN:  It's that next step.  Getting into the tournament, when you do it once, it's an unbelievable experience.  When you start doing it on a regular basis, it means that your program's one of the better ones in the country.
When you start getting into the second weekend, then it starts making you feel like a lot of the things that you preach, that your kids do, the kind of people in your program, your staff, that everyone's working in the same direction, 'cause you can't advance unless things are smooth.  If you're dysfunctional, it's going to catch up with you and you're not making it past that first weekend.
But the deeper you go in this, the more credibility goes to your kids and your program.

Q.  How much tape have you watched of Syracuse without Fab Melo and what have you noticed?
COACH MARTIN:  I'm tired of watching Syracuse.  It's been a long night.  But that's our job.  At this time of year, like I told the guys before the Southern Miss game, there's nothing I'd like to be than miserable on Friday morning, and I was miserable this morning.
I've watched both.¬† You know, what Fab gives them, it gives them that shot‑blocker, defensive rebounder in the middle of their zone who obviously is real long.¬† And they take his blocked shots and they make them into layups every time.¬† That's about 10 points a game that they get straight from his defensive presence there.
Now, they've got a bunch of other guys.  When I watched them play, I want to say the Notre Dame game, they played without Fab got beat.  I think that was their first loss of the year.  When I was watching that last night, they didn't lose because of the defense, Notre Dame was just unconscious.  They just made three after three.  Watching the game and watching Coach Boeheim, he wasn't very happy with how they played offense that game.  That was my impression when I watched that tape.
But, you know, sometimes you go out and you could have Fab, Kareem and Patrick Ewing on the back line of that zone, people start shooting things off the backboard, there's not much you can do.
Listen, this is what I'll say.  Everyone is making a big deal about Fab, and I understand why, he's a heck of a player.  Bo has won 900 games or whatever he has won.  I think Fab has been a part of only 30 of those.  He'll have his team ready to go.

Q.  There are programs in the country that have certain personas that they've earned, yourselves, Cincy, tough; Temple, smart.
COACH MARTIN:  Hey, c'mon.  What does that make us?

Q.  Brilliant, genius.  When you think of Syracuse, what comes to mind in terms of their persona?
COACH MARTIN:  Discipline.  I mean, every year they play the game exactly how Bo wants them to play.  You can watch a Syracuse tape from 10 years ago and you can watch 'em today, and they make little adjustments based on their personnel.
See, it was my scout when I was at Cincinnati, and the discipline with which they play.  Their zone defense, you take five guys and put 'em somewhere else, put five new guys there, three weeks later, they communicate better than anyone in the country in their defense.
The way you do that is by having some discipline within your program as to how you want them to play.  There's a reason he's won that many games.  There's a consistency factor there.  You do what he tells you to do or you're not going to play.

Q.  In talking about Syracuse and their zone, you were talking about Notre Dame having the ability to make shots, Syracuse's first loss.  How can you get Will and Jamar going, but you got to make shots.  How can you get them going?
COACH MARTIN:  What I told them this morning was if we can shoot the same air balls that we shot yesterday, then they won't rebound it, we can get underneath them and score it.
We've made shots.  We've made shots this year.  Our field goal percentage as a team has been the best in my five years at the school this year.  We can make shots.  We didn't shoot a lot of threes yesterday.  Obviously the three or four that we shot early kind of determined that we didn't need to shoot anymore.
Going into the game, the thought process was, Don't settle, get it inside, get it inside.  I think we ended up shooting 30 free throws or 27, or something like that.  So guys stuck to the game plan.
When we played Baylor, Missouri this year, two teams that play a lot of zone, we've been able to make some threes.  Our guys will shoot 'em, and they'll make some tomorrow.  I hope we make enough, because against that zone, you have to make some.

Q.  How do you think your intensity and attitude really reflects on your team in terms of their toughness?
COACH MARTIN:  The same way Coach Boeheim's discipline reflects on his team.  Listen, there's no team that plays at this time of year that doesn't have unbelievable pride and passion in the way they approach their team and their jobs.  Everyone that plays at this time of year has that.  They don't have that, they're not playing right now.
Like I said before, there's an old saying, that a good team usually resembles their coach.  That means that that's a reflection on me.  Then I guess I'm doing some things the right way, that I got our team playing hard.
Like the question that was asked earlier, people think about Kansas State basketball, they think about toughness, hard playing.  That's the reason I'm sitting here today because that's how I've approached my life.  Go at it, don't ever step back.  If our teams do that, that means we're maximizing who we are.  That's what I'm about.
I take that as a compliment.

Q.¬† You mentioned when you think about Syracuse you think about discipline.¬† Also that 2‑3 matchup zone.¬† Why is it so tough to go against that?¬† If it's so effective, why don't more teams use it?
COACH MARTIN:  Because not all of us can recruit 6'5" guards and 6'11" frontline guys.  John Cheney used to play his matchup zone.  That was impossible to score against it.  The problem is that when your guards are both 6'5", your frontline guys are 6'9", and they're all as long as can be, it makes it hard to pass around or get inside the zone.
Everyone says it's a 2‑3 zone.¬† It's not a 2‑3 zone.¬† It's a condensed 2‑2‑1 zone.¬† What they do is those wings are way up, they match up with you.¬† If you go inside the zone, the guy you get it to better be prepared to score over a 7‑footer because then those length guys match up with your perimeter guys.
It makes it real, real difficult.  I just told our guards, I told Angel, Devan Downey's freshman year Cincinnati, we're preparing to play him at home, he's a guy that scored 44, 45 points a game in high school.  He was real quick off the bounce.  He's little.  He thought he could get everything at the rim against anybody.  We're getting ready to play.
You're not getting the ball against the rim.  It's not happening.
He goes, I get this against anyone.
I'm just telling you now, it ain't working against these guys.
We played at Cincinnati.  He tried to dribble drive everything to the rim.  They blocked him, missed shots.  It was a jailbreak.  Every time he went in there, they dunked the other end, we lost.
When we played them again, he was more disciplined.¬† He tried to shoot pull‑up jump shots at the elbows and not get as deep against the zone.¬† He learned.¬† Because if you get it inside that zone now, it's difficult to deal with.¬† We talk about making threes against the zone.¬† I think it's even more important to make those little 14‑foot shots just inside the foul line.¬† I think those are the ones you got to make to make that zone collapse.¬† When that zone collapses, then you hit step‑in jump shots from the perimeter.
It's like we all grow up, no one grows up shooting balls, shooting balls from halfcourt.  They pass it to you at the rim and you shoot it.

Q.  A couple guys in the locker room were saying they think Rodney is as good as guys like Jacob and Denny.  Where do you think he ranks?
COACH MARTIN:  Kids these days, they like that ranking stuff.  Hey, I'm the third player in the country.  I don't pay attention to that stuff.
How does he compare to them?  I don't know.  I'm still coaching him.  It's hard for me to sit back and say, This is where he's at.
I still have to challenge him every day.  If I don't do that, he's going to be pissed at me because I didn't make him better that day.  But he's awesome.
I knew Rodney was going to be good when he first got to campus.  He was a highly touted recruit.  He came to a team that had established starters on the perimeter.  Dominique Sutton, Denny Clemente, and Jacob Pullen.  His minutes weren't very consistent.  He didn't pout, roll his eyes.  He didn't run into a corner and call his mom and say, I hate this, I can't stand it.
When I coached him, he wanted more.  And then what he did was he looked at the guys that were having success on our team and that's who he embraced.  Denny Clemente was a workout machine.  Rodney migrated to Denny right away.  They'd be in the gym at 5:00 in the morning working on their game, 10:00 at night working on their game.  Jacob started joining them.  Rodney joined Denny from day one.
Here is the thing about him.¬† The reason he couldn't play as a freshman, he couldn't guard me.¬† You see what I look like.¬† You can't guard me, you got problems.¬† He was all‑defensive first team, or whatever you want to call it, in the Big 12.¬† That's the kind of kid he is.¬† That's the kind of pride he takes.
Everyone is talking about his scoring.¬† Over an 18‑game Big 12 schedule, he was one of the five best defensive schedules against the teams we played against.¬† That should tell you what kind of player he is.

Q.  You talked Wednesday how Angel has aged you a little bit.  Are you at all nervous with him going against a team that forces so many turnovers?  Do you expect Syracuse to turn on the press at all?
COACH MARTIN:  They will press.  It's not like they're not going to press.  Like I said after the game yesterday, you go through the year.  We played Alabama.  Alabama pressed us buzzer to buzzer.  Angel didn't struggle with that.  Kansas gets after you with their pressure, it's a little different.  Missouri presses you some.
When you go through the season, you don't get to this moment and doubt your players when they make a mistake.  There's a reason you go through the gauntlet of your season, so you learn who you can trust and who you can't trust.
I'm not nervous about Angel.  I'm not nervous about our team.  Those things are over with.  I'm nervous about myself.  Have I done my job well enough to prepare my team?  Will I make the right decisions on the sideline to help those kids find success?  That's what I'm nervous about.
I'm not nervous about those guys.  I've invested my faith and trust in those kids.  Only the guy upstairs knows what's going to happen tomorrow.
I know those kids are going to play their hearts out for us.  I know that.  Do we turn it over?  We might.  I'm worried about us going one more point than Syracuse, not whether they're going to make the right play or the wrong play.
The season teaches you to play 40 minutes, to trust your guys.  The guys that play, I have full trust in 'em.  Whether they make the right plays or the wrong plays tomorrow, it's not going to determine my trust in them as players.
I don't know if that answers your question or not.

Q.  Angel was in here before and gave a thoughtful answer about his reaction to the chant that the Southern Miss band directed towards him.  Specifically, did you talk with him or have a reaction to that?  Generally, you've obviously had some diverse rosters over the years, including this one.  Do you talk with them about the potential for those kinds of situations, how to handle them?
COACH MARTIN:  I'm the first person in my family born in this country.  Unlike Angel, my family was not a citizen of this country when they were born.  Angel and I spoke after the game.  We didn't know about it.  I found out what happened from a media member asking me a question.  I had no idea what had taken place.
Before I answer your question, let me applaud the administration of Southern Mississippi because they could have written a formal apology letter, made it public.  Their administration made it a point to come to our hotel and look Angel in the eye, and two of them were Southern Miss grads, and say, Angel, as a Southern Miss grad, I apologize.  For a grown man to do that to a young man, that's a lot of class.  I'm extremely thankful for the way they stood up.
As far as that goes, listen, I wasn't in this country in 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960.  You know, I was born in '66.  I didn't find out the difference between my ass and you know what until probably about six years ago, okay?  But here is what I'll say on that topic, okay?
I'm here answering questions to you.  I lead a major college Division I basketball program.  We have an African American as a president.  This country is about giving people opportunities.  This country has come an unbelievable way from what it used to be as far as providing openings for minorities.  This country doesn't hold you down.  This country elevates you if you use it the right way.
Unfortunately in the world, not just in the United States, there's a word that's called 'ignorant.'  When certain people act that way, I don't give 'em attention.  I don't spend my energies on people that don't know the difference between A and B.  I spend my energies on people that are about doing things right.
What happened yesterday is unfortunate.  It's not a representation on the University of Southern Mississippi.  That with me was opened and closed when it started.  Angel handled it probably a lot better than I would have when I was 18 years of age.
But I've learned over my time on this planet that if you take care of business, you handle yourself the right way in the United States of America, you can end up like me:  a guy who didn't know how to speak English when he was five years old, and now I'm leading a major college basketball program in this country.

Q.  What would it mean for you and your program to beat the No.1 seed and make it to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years?
COACH MARTIN:¬† Obviously if you look back where we were at six years ago, it's a huge accomplishment.¬† Anytime you can beat Syracuse, whether it's in the regular season, non‑conference play, conference play, in the NCAA tournament, it's a heck of an achievement for your team because of who Syracuse is every year.
Seriously, you find Syracuse, put 30 next to their name, that's how many wins they got at the end of the year.  It's etched in stone.  Anytime you can do that, it's an accomplishment.  Like we were talking about earlier, in this day and age, your program and your players, me to a certain extent, you're judged on how far you can go in this tournament.
We've been fortunate that we've been in it four times in the last five years.  Three of those times we've made it to this round coming up.  One time we got to the second weekend.
When we got in this, what we tell our guys is we need six one‑game winning streaks.¬† It's the way we prepare when we play a Saturday/Monday, conference games, same way.¬† We prepare for Saturday.¬† When Saturday is over, we start our preparation for Monday.¬† We do that on purpose to try to prepare for this time of year.
It would be a huge accomplishment for our program.

Q.  Shortly after you got to Kansas State, you got very ill, terribly ill.  I'm not going to suggest that it was a transformative occasion, but what impact or effect did it have on you when you sit up there now and you have experiences like this?  Do you have a different perspective on it?
COACH MARTIN:  You know, I lived a different lifestyle back then.  I'd go home and watch film.  I had to give up alcohol.  I had to watch my diet a little bit better.
It's actually a funny story.  I was in the hospital 14 days.  The last day I was in there, the doctor comes in says, We got to have a heart to heart.  You got to change your lifestyle.
I said, What do you mean?
He goes, Number one, you got to give up alcohol.
I said, I can't drink a glass of wine or have a cold beer again?
He said, No.¬† And you got to give up high‑fat foods.
I said, I can't eat a steak and drink a cold beer with my family at night?
He said, Unless you want to end up here with me, you can't.
Coach Huggins later that night calls and says, I hear you're getting out tomorrow.  What are you pissed about now?  You've been in there for two weeks, I thought you'd be happy.
I said, The doctor said I got to give up beer.
I here that silence on the other line.  He says to me, Well, Frank, let's be honest here.  Don't you think you've had enough (laughter)?
But I'll tell you for 14 days, especially those first six days where I laid there, at the time I only had two kids, and since I was young, I always wanted to be a father, I always wanted to be a husband.  Here I was recently married, two young kids.  All I can think of is that my dreams were getting ready to get taken away from me.  That was hard.  That made me reflect a lot.
You see, I know some of you think I'm a little nuts, but in reality I'm pretty simple.  When I left there, I used to take a bad practice or a bad game home, and I couldn't let it go till the next day.
Well, I wasn't the head coach when I got sick.  Shortly after, I became the head coach, so I had a new perspective because when I leave practice, good or bad, I walk in my house, those kids say, Daddy's home, whatever happened at work is over with.  It allows me to refocus and better understand how important it is that I show up the next day with an unbelievable attitude to help those kids that come to school that believe in me to help them get better the next day.
That's what that experience kind of helped me with.  It made me understand just how important my family is and how important it is that I get rid of negative energy because the next day my job is to make people better, not to hold them down.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach Martin.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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