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BIG 12 CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 16, 2013


Rodney McGruder

Angel Rodriguez

Bruce Weber


KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

Kansas テや 70
Kansas State テや 54


THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by Coach Bruce Weber and student‑athletes Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez.テつ Coach, opening comment.
COACH WEBER:テつ I couldn't be more proud of our kids, great group.テつ They've really had great chemistry.テつ They've listened and got better.テつ And it's just a shame that we didn't shoot it a little better, take care of the ball a little better, and make it a little better game.
But Kansas was very good.テつ They have good matchups with us.テつ And you've got to play your A game if you're going to have a chance.テつ We just didn't play well enough.テつ So hats off to them.
We've had a great year.テつ Won a piece of the Big 12 Championship.テつ Got to the championship.テつ We've done a lot of good things, but there's still more good things to come.テつ Hopefully that's what the kids‑‑ I told them to keep their heads up and we got basketball left.
But the next time you're sad it's all over, and I don't want that to come for a while.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Rodney, you looked as focused as I've ever seen you before a game tonight.テつ Could you tell me what was going on in that mind of yours entering the game and as the game wore on?
RODNEY MCGRUDER:テつ I just wanted this victory very badly.テつ We worked so hard.テつ Worked so hard to get here.テつ Just to let it slip.テつ I just wanted to prepare myself for the game.テつ That's why I looked focused.

Q.テつ Rodney, what does Kansas do defensively that makes them so tough?
RODNEY MCGRUDER:テつ It wasn't really their defense, it was our defense, more.テつ We gave them too many easy baskets at the rim.テつ In the first half, we missed easy baskets at the rim as well.テつ So that hurt us.

Q.テつ Angel, a couple of scoring drives for your team.テつ How frustrating was it to chip away at that lead?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ Very.テつ I mean, looking at the percentages right now, the best thing we did was shoot free throws, and we shot 50percent.テつ So that says a lot.
I thought we had open shots; a lot of times they just didn't go in.テつ I guess we gotta give them a lot of credit as well.テつ And I guess it wasn't our night offensively.

Q.テつ Angel, you're sitting next to a guy‑‑ I believe he's the only player in K‑State history to score 20points in back‑to‑back games in Big 12 tournament games, and I just want to know after all this what does Rodney McGruder mean to you guys?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ He means everything.テつ He's our go‑to guy.テつ He's the most experienced guy we have on our team.テつ He leads by example.テつ He's always working hard before, after, and in practice.テつ It's somebody we look up to as players, as teammates.テつ And also he's a great person.テつ He's a good brother.
He's helped me a lot.テつ I think this year we came a long way because last year everybody was cool, but this year it's more like a brotherhood and not just a team.
So hopefully we make a run in this tournament, the NCAA, because he and the seniors deserve it.

Q.テつ Rod and Angel both, you guys went a little over 10minutes in the first half between field goals.テつ How hard is it to try to keep in balance with what you want to do offensively but at the same time you know‑‑ maybe you start push looking at maybe you need to be the one to go get a bucket?
RODNEY MCGRUDER:テつ Gotta be patient.テつ Can't force the game.テつ Force the game, that's when mistakes happen.テつ And bad shots.テつ And bad shots leads to transition baskets for them.
So just have to be smart and keep poised and just run your offense.
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ I agree with Rod.

Q.テつ Rodney and Angel, did it seem like within the first five minutes of the game that you all were winning the battle as far as being able to hustle to the loose balls and win the rebounds?テつ And, if so, when did you sense that to start to change?
ANGEL RODRIGUEZ:テつ I thought the first half overall our defense was good.テつ It was a low‑scoring game because both teams are playing good defense.テつ I thought sometimes we took not bad shots, I'd say quick shots that kind of led them to transition.テつ That's what they're good at.
But overall our defense the first five minutes in the whole half was pretty good, and that was the whole focus.テつ In the second half kind of let it slip.テつ We started scoring a little bit more in the second half, but then the defense wasn't as good as the first half.テつ And it was never a balance.

Q.テつ Rodney, three games now you guys have played against Kansas.テつ What are your thoughts on Travis Releford as a defender?
RODNEY MCGRUDER:テつ He's a good defender.テつ That's all.

Q.テつ I just want to know about your legs.テつ How do you feel like the team's legs were coming off of these games and entering this one as the game wore on?
RODNEY MCGRUDER:テつ They might have been tired.テつ But Kansas didn't care.テつ So it really doesn't matter.
But I'm sure guys had sore legs and things like that, but you've gotta fight on.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Okay.テつ Thank you.テつ Questions for Coach.

Q.テつ Coach, I don't want to get you in trouble, but can you talk about the foul disparity and how that affected how you coached the game?
COACH WEBER:テつ I don't even want to comment on it, to be honest.テつ We've gotta do a better job of executing, screening.テつ They've got good length.テつ Like Angel said, it was a low‑scoring game in the first half.
But it seemed like when we broke down we gave them too easy layups and points in the paint, just‑‑ they're so good at it.テつ Just look at Ellis, Young and Withey, that's the difference in the game.

Q.テつ How much did you want to be deliberate on the offense in the first half and how much was it a product of KU's defense?
COACH WEBER:テつ We went into it with the same mindset as we always do.テつ I think the guys alluded to it, we took some quick shots.テつ Some of it wasI think they wanted to go make some plays, and you have to be patient, let things happen.
We had some uncharacteristic turnovers because I think they were doing such a good job defensively we got impatient.テつ And when you go in the paint, you can't‑‑ Angel, he thinks he can take on any giant, and sometimes you can't.テつ You gotta kick it out, make the next pass.テつ And when he did, we just didn't jump up.
I can just run Ta (Irving) and a couple of guys with easy open looks.テつ Right as the last shot of the half, if that goes, it might make a big difference mentally to our kids.
But it just didn't go.テつ And slowly but surely they kind of wore us down and kept pounding it in the paint every time we made a run.

Q.テつ You guys made the 7‑0 run to take the lead in the first half, and then right after that KU‑‑ I think it was 14‑2 or something like that in the middle of your dry spell.テつ At what point in that run did you realize it was turning into a struggle more than just missing a couple of shots?
COACH WEBER:テつ We started out okay, then we made a little push.テつ And then the key was they got transition.テつ They got some easy hoops in transition.テつ And part of it was not doing as well offensively as we needed to, turning it over.
And then you can't defend layups and dunks.テつ It's really hard in transition.テつ So we knew it would be hard to score.テつ But I told them we gotta win 50 to 48.テつ We just can't break down defensively when you're not making shots.テつ Gotta have a good mindset through the whole game.

Q.テつ Bruce, you shared obviously the conference title with KU, terrific accomplishment.テつ But do you see beating them head to head is sort of a significant next step for you and the program?
COACH WEBER:テつ There's no doubt.テつ It's a big rivalry, but it's not a rivalry until we make it a rivalry.テつ And that means beat them somewhere.テつ And they're very good.テつ They're a very old, experienced team.テつ They know how to play.テつ They're winners.
Hats off to them.テつ Bill does a great job.テつ And when you prepare your team and when you go into a league, you think about the best team in the league and they're the best team.テつ And that's our goal and our job as coaches, to get to the point where we can beat them.

Q.テつ Looking to next week, I mean, obviously you're going to be looking at where you're going to have to play.テつ At this point in the season where technically every game is at a neutral site, does where you play matter as much at all as who you play and how you play?
COACH WEBER:テつ Well, I think how you play obviously is huge.テつ I think there's no doubt there is an advantage if you're close to home.テつ You're going to have more fans and you're in a little bit of a comfort zone.テつ If you played in the gym, just mentally you've gotta feel good.
But is that a guarantee you're going to win?テつ I don't think that's a guarantee.テつ But we have done it both ways through my years.テつ We took advantage of it.テつ When I was at SIU in Chicago, upset a couple of teams.
We took advantage of it at Illinois and made the run to the national championship on a bus and didn't have to get on a plane the whole way.テつ You had fans there all the time.
And then I've had the other way at Purdue when I was an assistant.テつ We were at Indianapolis and lost a heartbreaker to Texas.テつ And in Detroit it was close.テつ And lost to K‑State.テつ Those are two games you always remember.テつ And you had good crowd support and you were close to home.
So there's no guarantee.テつ You've gotta play well.テつ We gotta just‑‑ just look at assists/turnovers, that's the key.テつ And a credit to their defense, there's no doubt.
And that and we've gotta share the basketball.テつ We've got to guard.テつ If we do those things, hopefully we'll be okay.

Q.テつ Question on Rodney and the urgency you've seen him play with, especially in the last three games here and kind of putting the team on his shoulders, and also anything that maybe he said to the team prior to coming out for this one, the final time facing KU?
COACH WEBER:テつ If you've been around Rod, there's not much‑‑ he says family, one, two, three, and he says 40minutes, one, two, three.テつ As you said, he has a game face.テつ He's ready to play.テつ He plays hard.テつ The kid's a great example.テつ Couldn't have a better person.
I still think either Rod or Withey or McLemore should have been Player of the Year.テつ Both of us won the title.テつ And to me that's what determines who's the Player of the Year.テつ And that didn't happen.テつ He gave it a go.
He played as hard and as well as he could play here this weekend.テつ It was special.テつ And I thought J.O. (Henriquez) gave a great effort, and we need all those seniors to play well down the stretch.
And, again, we're capable‑‑ I think we've shown we're capable of beating anybody, but we have to play well.テつ As he asked, you've gotta be playing well at the right time and hope you get some good matchups and good bounces and advance one day at a time.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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