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March 22, 2013

Malcolm Armstead

Ron Baker

Tekele Cotton

Gregg Marshall


THE MODERATOR:  We welcome the student‑athletes from Wichita State, Tekele Cotton, Ron Baker and Malcolm Armstead.  We will now take questions for our student‑athletes?

Q.  Ron and Malcolm, if you could talk about what you jumps out at you about Gonzaga, maybe defending them specifically, their style on offense.
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  Gonzaga is the number one team in the country, so they are pretty good.  They are good offensively and defensively, and they execute well.  They have good, big guards and you have to execute our game plan and look forward to the game.
RON BAKER:  To me, this stands out as their one and two guards can shoot the ball.  So they screen and roll a lot, look for that pocket bounce pass for their bigs.
So we're going to have to defend them pretty well and on the offensive end we're going to have to execute because they're big down low and they guard with good pressure.  So we will have to execute.

Q.  Do you see any parallels in the conference you guys play and then with Gonzaga in the WCC?  Is that something you're mindful of, the "mid‑major" and trying to emulate what Gonzaga has been able to do over the last 15 years?
TEKELE COTTON:  Really I feel like we're both considered mid‑majors.  But we can play at a high level against anybody, both teams, and they are No. 1 in the country.

Q.  Malcolm, could you tell us about balancing, being a passing point guard, getting people involved and being a scoring point guard when things call for that?  How do you approach that?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  Well, instinctively I'm a pass first guy anyway.  I just take advantage of my opportunities.  When I have a chance to score I try to score the ball.  But I like to share the ball, like to see my teammates score more than I like to score.

Q.  Malcolm, the road to this point for you has been long, it's been winding.  You're leading this team against the No. 1 team in the country.  Has it hit you that the moment you have worked so hard for is finally here?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  No, not really.  But in a way, kinda.  You know, just trying to look at it one day at a time, don't look at who we are playing against, but playing against Gonzaga they're a great team.
But you got to go out and do what you do.  You can't get caught up in the hype because at the end of the day it's just basketball.

Q.  Malcolm, in addition to scoring the last seven or eight games a cut down on turnovers, that's noticeable.  Anything happen that has let you take care of the ball over the last three weeks or so?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  Just being patient and not forcing the issue, being relaxed and my teammates do a lot of things to where I don't have the ball as much as well.  So anytime they can help me down the stretch or throughout the game, that makes it easier.

Q.  Gonzaga showed that it was vulnerable yesterday.  How eager are you guys to take advantage of that?
TEKELE COTTON:  Can you repeat that?

Q.  Gonzaga showed that it was vulnerable yesterday, pushed to the brink.  Can you talk about how eager you guys are to show that you can finish the job against a team like that?
TEKELE COTTON:  Like Malcolm said, we just got to take it one day at a time and do what we do and execute, play great offensively as well as defensively and just do what we do and take care of business tomorrow.

Q.  Ron, seems like if there is one thing people know about Wichita State over the past few years, it's that you guys are tough.  You have that representation.  Where does that start?  With the coaching?  Player mindset?  When someone talks about toughness in basketball, how is that displayed on the court do you think?
RON BAKER:  For us, I say it's defense and rebounding, something we strive on.  For us, we want to lock down one possession at a time, get a rebound and get in transition and, you know, get easy buckets.  We want to go to the glass, not just on the defensive end but on the offensive end.  We want to be physical with you up and down the court and that's something we focus on, playing angry and being physical with whoever we play.

Q.  Ron, any similarities with Creighton as far as a real good scoring big man or two plus some good shooters that you have to be aware of?
RON BAKER:  Yeah, there are some similarities, definitely.  I'm not sure their bigs can shoot as good as Creighton can.  But they're definitely physical.  They like to drive it when they get to pocket bounce pass in the mid‑post.  So that's something we will have to be aware of, but as far as Creighton and Gonzaga, you could say they're similar.

Q.  Ron, last year was your red‑shirt year and Malcolm sat out due to the transfer.  Did you ever imagine you guys being at this point, sitting at this podium one game away from the Sweet 16?
RON BAKER:  It was definitely one of our goals.  Malcolm and I spent a lot of time on the bench last year and on the scout team.  So this was definitely‑‑ we're in position, you know, to do what we wanted to do last year.  Just take it day by day.

Q.  Ron, do you consider your team a Cinderella team?  You guys have 27 wins, but is that something that you could do in this tournament that you would embrace, or do you not like that label?
RON BAKER:  To me, it's just an opinion to somebody else, really, if they call us a Cinderella team.  You can call us whatever you want.  We're just trying to get as far in the tournament as we can and just play every game as hard as we can.

Q.  Malcolm, I was wondering coming out of Oregon what it was that appealed to you most about Wichita State?  What caught your eye and made you want to come there?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  I knew I only had one year left of eligibility to play, so it was a matter of finding a good situation.  I had a relationship with all the coaches, so I felt like that was the best thing possible for me to do.

Q.  Malcolm, playing in Oregon in the Pacific Northwest, how much did you hear about Gonzaga, especially their tradition of turning out good guards over the years?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  Well, I heard a lot about Gonzaga, because I had a couple of roommates when I was at Oregon.  That's all they would talk about is Gonzaga basketball.  So I knew about them at the time, and I would watch them play because the west coast times you get to see those games late at night when maybe the east coast is sleeping, so I watched basketball.

Q.  Malcolm, did you play primarily 1 or 2 at Oregon, and what went into your reasons to transfer?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  I played primarily 1 and some 2, but I felt like leaving was maybe something I needed to do to clear my head, get a fresh start.  Seemed like it was a better situation here.

Q.  Tekele, yesterday Malcolm referred to you as a "free safety" in terms of defensive prowess.  Coach called you a strong safety.  Yesterday you chased around Tray Woodall and I would imagine tomorrow you will be chasing around Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos.  Do you like having that representation?  Is that something that you enjoy?
TEKELE COTTON:  I look forward to being that guy to chase around their player like I did yesterday.  So I look forward to chasing around Kevin Pangos.  I have no problem with it.  I enjoy it.

Q.  If I'm not mistaken, you guys yesterday had a chance to watch quite a bit of the Southern‑Gonzaga game.  Can you describe what you were feeling as Southern was hanging in there and making it really difficult for Gonzaga?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:  Watching the game you still know that Gonzaga is a real good basketball team and I kinda look at it as maybe Gonzaga came out and looked at the team that they were supposed to win.  So maybe they just kind of played to the competition level.
But at the end of the day, they're still a good basketball team.  So you can't look at the team they were playing because maybe they played to the competition level.  I feel like they're going to be ready for the game tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.
We are now joined by Coach Gregg Marshall.  Questions for Coach?

Q.  You've made the rounds in the media today.  With one win you have the No. 1 team in the country.  Wichita State has not played the No. 1 team in the country for a lot of years.  How much a defining moment could this be for Shocker basketball?
COACH MARSHALL:  It's a wonderful opportunity.  Not only are they the number one seed in our region and it's the third round of the NCAA Tournament, but they're the No. 1 team in the country.  I think it's been 1967, UCLA, the last time Wichita State played the No. 1 team in the country.
So, more importantly, it keeps our season alive.  It's a great, great opportunity and it's going to be a great challenge as well.  But our guys are excited and ready to go play.

Q.  Coach, do you feel that your team matches up well with Gonzaga, especially after seeing how Southern's physicality seemed to give them a little bit of trouble last night?
COACH MARSHALL:  I would hope so.  We have some size and physical players, especially in the post.  But our guards are also disruptive as they were yesterday against Pitt.  I thought Tekele Cotton, Ron Baker, Malcolm Armstead in particular did a wonderful job on Pitt's guards.  They got some looks that they didn't knock down.
I'm sure Gonzaga will shoot it better, but hopefully we can continue to guard on the perimeter as we did.  The big thing, I think, is Carl Hall, Ehimen Orukpe, Chadrack Lufile, Jake White, Cleanthony Early need to do a great job on Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris.

Q.  Offensively are they similar to Creighton in any way, surrounded by great shooters?
COACH MARSHALL:  They've got a lot of great weapons.  I think Kelly Olynyk is Doug McDermott with a couple of inches and more athleticism, minus the 50‑something percent 3‑ball.  He deserves a tremendous amount of attention.
Unfortunately, in one day you're not going to be able to tweak too much from your defensive principles.  But then you've got Kevin Pangos who is their guy that stirs the drink and can score off the bounce as well as the deadly 3‑point shot.
You've got Elias Harris who is in there posting and rebounding and driving the ball.  He deserves a lot of attention, and Bell, so four very, very talented players.  You have to pick your poison.  You have to decide when you're going to dig or try to double team the ball.
Frankly, you've just got to limit them to one, decent look, if you can do that and then try to make them guard on the other end.

Q.  Coach, having won at Winthrop and now at Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament now that your opponent used to basically be the Cinderella team, is that a program that you would like to emulate at Wichita State?
COACH MARSHALL:  Well, everyone who is non‑BCS in the last 15, 20 years, whatever it's been, since Coach Monson and that group that first started this run at Gonzaga has tried to emulate their success.  Mark and I talked about it, and we played 'em in Tucson in 2005, maybe?  And we played a pretty close game, Winthrop versus Gonzaga and Adam Morrison hits three 3‑pointers from the parking lot to beat us.
Everyone wants to do that, and now Butler and George Mason and VCU and all those teams are trying to get there and Wichita State and Creighton and those folks are also trying to get there.
If it's a five‑step process and we're on step one, beating Gonzaga tomorrow would possibly elevate us to step three.  Maybe we could skip a step in trying to become Gonzaga, but it takes years of excellence to become Gonzaga and that's what we're trying to put forth.

Q.  Gregg, has Malcolm turned into more of a scoring point guard than maybe you thought?  If you could take us through his better command of the offense the last seven weeks or so?  He's cut down on his turnovers.
COACH MARSHALL:  Yeah, I think so.  But I don't think scoring and cutting down on his turnovers have anything to do with one another.  Being more careful, not making chancy plays and cutting down on the turnovers.  But I do agree he's become a better offensive player.
I have a lot of trust in him and I have a lot of belief in him and I like scoring point guards.  If you go back to Clevin Hannah in years two and three, and Joe Ragland in years four and five, and now Malcolm Armstead this season and Fred Van Vleet and D.J. Bowles, a young man that we have signed. 
All of those guys can run the show and put the ball in the basket and that's been my "want" all of my scoring career.  I had some great scoring point guards at Winthrop and will continue to try to do that.
I told Malcolm, I trust your shot maybe more than you do.  When you're open, you've got to shoot it.  If they're going to go under ball screens you've got to shoot ball.  He's really in a nice rhythm now, and he's not just scoring, he's creating for others.  I think he had five assists and one turnover yesterday.

Q.  From a coaching standpoint what's unique about a player like Malcolm?  These last three years we've been asking him questions and he says, it's just a basketball game.  And he's a senior and the road to this point has been long and winding.  What are your favorite attributes that Malcolm presents from a point‑guard standpoint?
COACH MARSHALL:  Malcolm Armstead is one of the more interesting and neat kids that I've ever coached.  His long and winding road to get here, as you mentioned, that's unique.
Here is a guy that never stops talking.  If you'll notice he's on the court and there was one time early in the season he was talking to the other guard on the other team, and I finally said, Malcolm, I'm trying to get your attention and you're talking to this other kid.  What are you telling him?  He goes, well, Coach, I had just taken the ball from him and I was trying to tell him he can't dribble the ball so high.  It's not going to work.
And I'm going, why are you doing that to the opposition and he says, well, he's a nice kid and I want to see him do well.
He's in the game sitting beside me, and Fred Van Vleet, a young freshman, middle of year is playing and playing well and I looked at Malcolm Armstead and I said, are you going to go in.  And he said, no, Coach, let Fred stay in.  He's got a good run going.  He never stop talking.  He's very, very positive.  I'm a little more conservative and nervous.  There was a time yesterday in the game where we had to inbound the ball that was five or six minutes in the game and Pitt was pressing us to a degree and trying to deny the ball inbounds.  We have an out‑of‑bounds play where we screen for the point guard and I motion for that offense and Malcolm goes, no, no, this is not pressure.  We're fine, Coach.  I don't need that screen and I said, I want the screen, Malcolm.  So I had to convince him we needed the screen.
He's been a great young man to coach.  I'm pleased we're advancing in the tournament for guys like him, that have sacrificed quite a bit to be in this situation.

Q.  Malcolm has an unconventional way of scoring, off the backboard, taking 3s off the dribble.  How much of that helped him score and how did he develop that style?
COACH MARSHALL:  You mean those trick shots?  I call those trick shots, going left off the glass.  He can shoot off the bounce as well as off the catch.  Most guys shoot better off the catch.  He can get in the lane‑‑ he's very strong, he has big hands, that's why he steals the basketball.  Yesterday he had a tie‑up with Steven Adams, I always think he's Gray because I remember Stuart Gray from the great Pitt teams.
But Steven Adams had a jump ball, and I knew as big and strong as Adams was, there was no way he was getting that ball from Malcolm.  I think his strength, his experience and the confidence he has in his game allows him the freedom to create those shots and shoot it off the bounce if they go underneath the screen, get into the lane and do his trick shots off the glass.

Q.  Coach, I was talk to Cleanthony in the locker room and he was saying about his adjustment this year, that he had never been coached like this.  Can you talk about his adjustment to D1 level, and what you've seen in his growth from when he got there to now?
COACH MARSHALL:  He's also never been a D1 player and he's never been to the NCAA Tournament so there is some give and take.  He's a tremendous athlete, first of all, tremendous potential player.  What I like is as good as he is scoring over 20 points yesterday he is going to be so much better next year.  He allows us to coach him, and every once in a while he believes just a bit but he is extremely talented and he really, really wants to be good.  I think he can play at a really lie level if not the highest level one day if he continues to evolve, work on his handle, his defense and his physicality and his body so he can rebound a little better.
It's a great starting point and I'm glad he has allowed us to coach him the way we have and he's gotten better from day one to now but he still has a lot more room to grow, which is exciting for a coach.

Q.  How do you go about attacking Kelly Olynyk from an offensive standpoint since he's quick and comfortable at the perimeter and in the paint?
COACH MARSHALL:  You've got to make him spend some time on that end of the floor guarding.  He's a tremendous athlete at 7 feet.  He can run.  He can put the ball on the floor.  He can post.  He can get dunks in transition and off of offensive rebounds.  So we are going to have to guard him, put a body on him at all times and be there with help.
But as you mentioned, I think making him guard some will be beneficial as well and we'll go 10 deep.  I don't know if they play 10 guys, but hopefully we can keep a fresh body on him at all times.

Q.  How did Malcolm end up at your place?  Did you recruit him out of high school?
COACH MARSHALL:  We recruited him out of Chipola Junior College.  We went one year to Chipola Junior College.  So he could come out after one year and we recruited him from there and we tried really hard to get him.  He goes to Oregon instead with a buddy, Jeremy Jacobs and plays one year as a starting point guard for Coach Kent.
There is a coaching change and he's one year for Coach Altman and he called us and said he wanted to transfer.  We didn't have a scholarship.  We told him that and he took out loans.  His family took afinancial hit to attend Wichita State, and he got a part‑time job, and probably is still in debt to this day.
He wanted to play for his former junior college coach on my staff, Greg Heiar, and the guy that had recruited him for me, Chris Jans, plus I had done my best to go down to Alabama to meet with him and his family when we recruited him out of Chipola and ultimately it worked out.
They sustained senior night they're here in Salt Lake, so it's‑‑ all is well that ends well and it's been a really nice end to go his fifth year, senior season.

Q.  Coach, Kelly Olynyk is obviously the focus.  How important is it to have your strong safety, Tekele Cotton, following the Kevin Pangos and the Gary Bells around the perimeter to headache sure they don't get those crucial point shots?
COACH MARSHALL:  I'm not going to say they're not going to get a open 3‑point look or get a shot, but Tekele is a tremendous, tremendous athlete and he dedicates himself with energy and toughness on the defensive end.
We have to make 'em work for everything.  They're going to score.  We're not going to shut 'em out, but if Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker and Malcolm can have the same affect they had on the guards from Pitt yesterday, it would go a long way to help us winning the game.

Q.  Watching Gonzaga yesterday, did you see a team that was perhaps rusty or one that showed that it is vulnerable?
COACH MARSHALL:  I saw a team that played a very, very good Southern team, and I think that's what people are overlooking.  Southern is a very good team and a very well coached team.
As I'm sitting there watching the game, I didn't see Gonzaga playing that poorly, I saw Southern playing really, really well and maybe over their head.  I haven't seen Southern all year.  When the game was tied and Southern had the ball with a few minutes to go, I'm sitting there going, wow, we may play Southern.
Then I let my mind wonder a little bit, and think now we have to beat Southern.  How are we going to do that?  There are no bad teams in this tournament and because they're the 1 seed and it was a close game, that's rare, 16 taking 1 like that.
But Southern was a very good team and Gonzaga will bounce back.  They had their scare.  They'll be fine.  They'll come out ready to play.  I'm not concerned about that.  I've got to make sure my guys are ready for Gonzaga and I'm anticipating Gonzaga being at their best.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach. 

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