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March 29, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'd like to welcome the Wichita State Shockers.¬† We have Tekele Cotton, Ron Baker, Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early, and Coach Gregg Marshall.¬† Coach, if you could make an opening statement, then we'll take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH MARSHALL:¬† Here's the guys, the starting lineup, I guess, from yesterday's victory in the Sweet Sixteen.¬† We're excited to be here, and looking forward to the challenge of playing Ohio State for the right to go to Atlanta.
Q.¬† Carl and Cleanthony, when you first went to Wichita State, what did you think about the campus?¬† What was appealing to you, what did you like about the University overall?
CLEANTHONY EARLY:¬† I pretty much liked everything.¬† That's why I finally made my decision.¬† I liked the campus, like you said.¬† The facilities were nice.¬† We had a good coaching staff, and the players kind of won me over as we just chilled for a bit, and I really had fun.
CARL HALL:¬† To me, it was the coaching staff and the players that attracted me to Wichita State.
Q.¬† Carl and Malcolm, if you could just talk about what it's like to play in your home arena for people who haven't had a chance to get down there when it's full and you're playing a big game, what is that experience like?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:¬† A sellout crowd every night.¬† Never played in front of anything like it.¬† It gets really loud.¬† Sometimes you can never hear the coach.
You have to run over to him.¬† You can't really explain it, man.¬† It's a great feeling.
CARL HALL:¬† I could say one word, and that's crazy.¬† It's crazy in there.¬† Very loud and intense.¬† Coach Marshall yelling.¬† It's just a great place to play, man.
COACH MARSHALL:¬† I want to expand upon that.¬† There is a funny story.¬† Malcolm thinks I can read lips, okay?¬† And in Koch Arena, I'm trying to yell at him as the quarterback, the point guard, and he's over there doing‑‑ and I'm going, I don't know what you said, Malcolm.
Finally, he learned that he has to come over to me so that I can communicate with him a little better.¬† I don't have sign language skills or flash cards.¬† It is pretty loud.¬† But he thought I was a really good lip reader for a long time.¬† But we've got that solved.
Q.¬† Obviously, your focus is on what's happening here, but your name has come up in discussions about an opening at UCLA.¬† I'm just curious if you're aware of that kind of talk and how you deal with it this time of year?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† I actually don't deal with it.¬† I've been a head coach for 15 years, and at least ten of those years there's been conjecture like that.¬† I've made one coaching move in 15 years, so I'm not a jumper.¬† I'm very pleased to be the coach at Wichita State, content, happy, and you can't buy happy.¬† I've got a great group of guys here playing in the Elite Eight, and that should be the focus.
Q.¬† Malcolm, Gregg told a story earlier about you were on the bench and Fred was playing well, Gregg tried to put you back in and you said, no, no, Fred's on a roll.¬† Let him stay in there.¬† Are you taking some pride in seeing Fred develop?¬† And can you talk about that relationship and watching him improve this year?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:¬† You know, Fred, he's a great point guard.¬† I'm all about the team.¬† If I see a teammate playing better and performing better for the best of the team, I'm all about it.¬† I don't care about myself.¬† All I want to do is win.
Q.¬† Malcolm, can you compare Missouri Valley play to Pac‑12 play?
MALCOLM ARMSTEAD:¬† Physical, it's more physical in the Missouri Valley.¬† Pac‑12 is more finesse, like NBA‑style play.¬† Don't really run a lot of sets in the Pac‑12; MVC is more of a set‑type system.¬† It's helped my game a lot, MVC.
Q.¬† Ron and Cleanthony, how is it playing a big BCS school?¬† Ohio State is a large athletic department.¬† Do you have any misconceptions about the resources and things they have on their campus compared to what you all have at Wichita State?
CLEANTHONY EARLY:¬† I just think at the end of the day we have to go out there and play our hearts out.¬† So regardless if their facilities are a little bit bigger than ours, they've got to lace up their shoes just like us.
RON BAKER:¬† To me, it's just about who comes out and plays a better game tomorrow night.¬† Big Ten is a big conference.¬† We all know that.¬† MVC is the conference we play in.¬† At the end of the day, it's going to come down to a basketball game, not who has a better facility or more money in revenue.
Q.¬† Demetric's minutes have been cut back, and when he plays, he's playing hurt.¬† How much is that sacrifice and that senior leadership kind of thing been helping you guys?
CLEANTHONY EARLY:¬† We've had guys hurt the entire season, and that just liberates the rest of our guys to come up and step up and fill their shoes.¬† It's a good thing that he's out there and he still can continue to play.¬† We appreciate that everything is out there trying to fight through these injuries?
Q.¬† Tekele, could you talk about the tournament you've had defensively so far?
TEKELE COTTON:¬† Really, all I'm trying to do is help my team and defend, and that's what my role on the team is to defend.¬† So that's what I'm trying to do.
Q.¬† Carl, you all were really physical early.¬† I guess it seemed like you kind of shook them right at the start of the game.¬† How important is it for this team to do that again when you're playing Ohio State tomorrow?
CARL HALL:¬† It's very important to get early sit‑ins and try to get their bigs in foul trouble.¬† It helps our team when I'm making shots down low.¬† It kind of opens the floor for the shooters, so I'm going to try to get early sit‑ins and just try to help my team win.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We will now open it up for questions for Coach.
Q.¬† Along the lines of UCLA, from your perspective or from a coach's perspective, where does UCLA fit in the scheme of things nowadays?¬† There is talk around here that maybe it's fallen off a little bit.¬† But from a coach's perspective, where would you say that job ranks nowadays?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† It's probably one of the top six elite jobs in the country.¬† My perspective, NorthCarolina, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, and UCLA.¬† Those are the six.
But then you've got a lot of folks nipping at their heels, Never been on the campus; don't know much about it. ¬†I heard Pauley was renovated.¬† Other than that, it's a job that's won a lot of National Championships.
The last was Coach Harrick, who is a friend of mine, and an acquaintance who was actually at the game yesterday sitting in our section.¬† It was great to see him and his new wife.¬† That's all I know about it.
Q.¬† For much of the season Ohio State was kind of depicted offensively and probably fairly as Deshaun Thomas and a bunch of other guys.¬† Now Ross and Thompson are chipping in.¬† How much more difficult does that make it?¬† Is it better or worse to have a pretty much determined go‑to guy?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† Well, it's very similar to us, minus the go‑to guy.¬† We've been challenged to score all year long, but we get Ron Baker going now, and he's a difference maker.¬† He's a shot maker, Ron Baker the shot maker.¬† So that helps.
Malcolm's come on offensively over the course of the year.¬† His numbers have continued to rise; and Carl, now healthy, because we played quite a number of games without Carl at all, and yesterday he set the tone by running the court, getting some easy ones around the basket to build the 14‑2 lead.
I'm sure it helps Ohio State, but Ross, I think, was a guy‑‑ I was in here getting my team prepared.¬† He's the one that hit the shot last night against Arizona.¬† They've got a lot of talented guys that can put the ball in the basket.¬† Watching film is scary.
Q.¬† Your recruiting philosophy, can you discuss that a little bit?¬† What you look for in a player?¬† And do you expect a run like this to change the way you recruit?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† My philosophy on recruiting has always been to get guys that can make you better.¬† When you start out at Wichita State or Winthrop or UCLA or Ohio State, you're always trying to strive to get guys that can make you just a little bit better.
We like athletic guys who I know, whether they can defend walking in the door or not, if they're athletic enough and they're tough enough and they're coachable, then we can get them to defend.
Obviously, you need some guys that can put the ball in the basket.¬† So getting those combination of things is a luxury that we don't always have.¬† We don't get complete players, and maybe that's the difference in us and some of those program that's I mentioned earlier, maybe even Ohio State, five‑star recruits walking in the door.
But we got Fred VanVleet last year.¬† Top 80 in the country consensus, hits daggers in this tournament.¬† He hit a big pull‑up jumper yesterday.¬† He hit our first three, and then he hit the three to seal the win against Gonzaga, I thought.¬† And he won't be the last.¬† He's the first, but he won't be the last.¬† I feel like once you get Fred VanVleet, then maybe the flood gate can open.¬† I'm not going to say we're getting one‑and‑done guys next year that rival Calipari and all that he does at Kentucky.
But we're going to try to get players that make us better and now can sustain this level of success.¬† That's what we talked about that Gonzaga and Mark Few has done.¬† He's been able to sustain the level of success.
All those guys like Dan Dickau or Santangelo or whatever his name was, they had a great group with Dan Monson, and then the next group came in, and I coached against Morrison and those guys in the NCAA Tournament.
And now it's Olynyk and Pangos.¬† So, he's been able to sustain it, and that's what we're attempting to do.¬† Our recruiting is basically done for next year.¬† We've got a great class coming in.
We stole a couple of guys, in my opinion, that can play in other higher BCS conferences and in Elite Eights and Final Fours.¬† But people didn't see that in the fall.¬† That's what we have to do is uncover the hidden gem.¬† But maybe now we get a little more high‑profile recruit, and that will be fun.
Q.¬† Coach, you were talking about this run that Malcolm's been on in the tournament.¬† Can you just reflect back and talk about when you walked on and the phone conversation that he came to Wichita, and I guess the journey that he's had in this one season on the court with you?
COACH MARSHALL: ¬†Well, I wish you had asked him that, because I will just paraphrase and try to‑‑ when he called and said he wanted to come, we flat out told him we don't have a scholarship.¬† It's very rare for a guy to transfer and pay his own way, especially out of state, and also from a BCS school.¬† But he said, I'll take out loans.¬† I'll do what I need to do, maybe get a part‑time job.¬† We helped him with that.¬† But this kid paid his way, took out loans, went into debt.
The reason was, and this is why I wanted you to ask him, he said, I just want to win.¬† I want to go to the NCAA Tournament and win.
It's gratifying for all of us for different reasons, but that makes me feel good because of the sacrifice that he made and to now have this level of success and be playing so well.¬† I think he's a pro.¬† I don't know what level.¬† I know he's a pro.¬† I don't know what level.
I don't know if an NBA team's going to give him a look like they did Joe Ragland last year.¬† But he's going to make some money with this run in the NCAA Tournament, and he's just a tremendous, tremendous, positive leader in our locker room and on the court.
Q.¬† What are some of the things that have happened in the non‑BCS conferences over the last few years that have made those coaching jobs more like destination jobs where guys don't automatically take the first BCS job that comes along?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† Well, it could be the Gonzaga factor and what Mark Few has been able to do and how he's so solidified now in that Spokane community.¬† Then you have George Mason and Jim Larranaga, who he didn't leave after his Final Four.
It took five or six years or maybe even more.¬† I don't recall the year that it happened, but before he went to Miami, then Butler, Brad, Shaka, VCU, I mean, so many now non‑BCS schools are getting the opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament and prove that they belong, not only belong, but can win the whole thing.
Then the programs start, it's almost a self‑fulfilling prophecy.¬† The programs then start selling out, raising revenue for the athletic department and ultimately giving greater visibility to their universities, and what is that worth?¬† What is an Elite Eight, Final Four championship game run worth to a non‑BCS school?
We don't have the huge football contracts, but we still have a lot of good that comes from these runs in the NCAA Tournament.¬† So ultimately, if you're appreciated and loved and they have the resources, they take care of the coach, and it makes it easier on your family.¬† You don't have to relocate.¬† How many times do you want to do that in a career?¬† It's not easy.
Q.¬† Coach, if you would talk a little bit more about your concern with Ohio State and also anything you recall from your one game at Winthrop against Ohio State?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† I just know Thad does a great job.¬† I'm familiar with Dave Dickerson, Jeff Boals, friends with those guys.¬† They do a tremendous job of developing their players.¬† They're physically strong.¬† They shoot the ball great.¬† There are so many weapons on the perimeter that can stroke the basketball.
Then you've got Craft, you know, he's as tough as they come offensively and defensively.¬† He's driving that ball; he's dumping it off.¬† He's getting other people involved.¬† They don't beat themselves.¬† This is a program since Thad's been there that every year is getting to the Sweet Sixteen or Final Four.¬† It will be our first Elite Eight game, everybody in our locker room.¬† So they have the advantage there, and in one 40‑minute game, you never know.
Q.¬† Coach, how did you find Cleanthony Early?¬† I know that San Diego State was close to getting him as well.¬† How did you convince him to go to Wichita instead of the beach?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† He had some BCS offers.¬† I think Pitt, West Virginia, Alabama, but he ended up choosing us over San Diego State and a couple of others that he visited.
My assistant coach, Greg Heiar, who also played a hand in getting Malcolm Armstead to Wichita State.¬† We go to this Mullen's Junior College deal in St. Louis, and I'm sitting there, watching the players.¬† Greg Heiar says, which one do you like, Coach?
And I said, well, my favorite today is that young man.¬† I don't even know what number he was wearing on his back.¬† But I had been watching him, and he was just a live wire.¬† He was all over the place, dunking the ball, making pull‑ups, hitting threes, getting into the offensive glass, running in transition.¬† He goes, well, you know, we can get him.¬† And I go, really?¬† That's not a normal response from the top pick in that type of top 10 junior college event.
We knew we had the five seniors graduating last year that were all very talented and could really score the ball.¬† We knew we needed a scorer.
Greg Heiar had already done some contact work on Cleanthony Early.¬† He was already involved with his junior college coach, his AAU coach, and had done some grass roots work prior to us even going to the event.¬† We had a jump start on all those other schools.
When he came to visit, there was a bad storm back east.¬† I'm talking like a tremendous‑‑ it was in the fall, so it was raining, but it was a terrible storm in like October or November of that year.¬† Which would have been 2011, I think.
So his visit is over at Wichita State.¬† He's planning on flying out the next day.¬† Well, we found out that planes were not going back to the New York area.¬† We literally could not get him back.
So that is the first time in my 15 years I've had to deal with that.¬† We had to call the NCAA and say, what do we do?¬† I mean, your limit is 48 hours for a visit, and they said, well, you have to apply for a waiver to get an extension.
So his mother was very concerned about him flying anyway.¬† She didn't like all the flying back and forth across the country.¬† So maybe that was our advantage over San Diego State.¬† But he ended up not being able to fly, and then he couldn't fly the next day.¬† He had an over 72‑hour visit.¬† So he got to know our players very, very well, liked them, liked our staff.¬† We ran out of things to show him.¬† I mean, our visit was over.¬† But we just tried to keep him busy.¬† It ended up working to our favor.¬† But it was a long, long visit that the NCAA had to continue to approve him staying in Wichita, but we couldn't get him home.
Q.¬† Saw Coach Harrick last night in your colors, supporting your team.¬† Can you expand on that relationship, where you guys connected and what he's meant to you?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† Yeah, when I left the College of Charleston after eight years of working with Coach Kresse, I went to Marshall University for two years, and Greg White was the coach and he hired me.¬† He is one of my best friends in the world, and he knew Coach Harrick.
He had worked for Coach Harrick at UCLA for one or two years right around the time they won the National Championship, and they're both from West Virginia.¬† I was not, but I was the beneficiary of their relationship and got the opportunity to spend some time around Coach Harrick and my two years at Marshall before I became the head coach at Winthrop.
Jim Harrick treated me as well as‑‑ treated me like I was a BCS head coach.¬† I mean, he was so nice to me, my family, so friendly, so fun, so out going.¬† We've always enjoyed my wife and I and my children have always enjoyed being around him.¬† We've gotten together at the Final Fours when I was a young assistant coach.¬† He would pick up the tab.¬† He was just tremendous, and I've always tried to include him anytime I can.¬† I feel like he's one of the great coaches that I know.
I'm trying to get him back to Wichita for our golf tournament that we raise a lot of money to help us fly private planes all over the place, and we think we can get him.¬† So we're going to continue to work on that.
Q.¬† Coach, a couple years ago a lot of people look at this match‑up and see it's almost the haves versus the have notes.¬† But you have a competitive salary.¬† You have recruiting resources like private flights and recruiting trips.¬† How much is the financial gap closed between a team like Ohio State and what your program has access to in recent years?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† What do you mean competitive?¬† What is my salary competing with?
Q.¬† It's a seven‑figure salary.¬† I guess that's pretty competitive?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† I don't know what it's competing with, but I don't know.¬† We just have a great basketball program.¬† We have a tradition.¬† We have history.¬† We've been to the Final Four.¬† We've been to the Elite Eight before, great players.¬† NBA, top 50 players, X‑man and Antoine Carr and Dave Stallworth, Cliff Levingston, Cleo Littleton, on and on.¬† Cal Bruton, it's been a lot of great players, tremendous fan base, tremendous support.¬† The administration loves it.¬† We don't have football.¬† They don't want football.¬† They want us to be the best that we can be.¬† Our volleyball team went to the Sweet Sixteen this year.¬† Our basketball team, women's basketball went to the NCAA Tournament.¬† Baseball has always been strong.
It's a tremendous athletic department.¬† Great city.¬† We're not named South Central Kansas State.¬† We're Wichita State.¬† Whether you're a Jayhawk or a Wildcat, there are a lot of folks that went to those schools.
But they live in Wichita, because that is the heartbeat of the state of Kansas.¬† If you went to those schools and you live in Wichita, you still probably pull for the Shockers because we're the hometown team, and we don't compete with NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball or college football.¬† So it's a pretty good situation.
Q.¬† You were reported as saying you weren't really the beneficiary of a coaching tree, quote‑unquote.¬† Who have been your guys along with Coach Kresse and the others you mentioned who sort of channeled you into where you are now?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† My original coach, my college coach who got me in this business was Hal Nunnally, and he was a Hall‑of‑Fame type coach as well, Randolph‑Macon College, Division II at the time, since moved to Division III.
When I became an assistant coach, first year we were Division II, second year we were Division II when I was coaching for him.¬† But they told us the Division III move was going to happen.¬† So I wanted to be able to offer something to student‑athletes because I thought that that was‑‑ I wanted to coach at a higher level, and I had played Division II.
Belmont Abbey for one year under Kevin Eastman who is an assistant with the Celtics and a great basketball mind, then John Kresse for eight years, and I sat right beside one of the brilliant minds in college basketball.
In the mid 90's, he was the Cinderella.¬† If he had continued to coach, he may have been the Mark Few of this NCAA Tournament.¬† I left to go to Marshall for two years, and Greg White hired me, and this is Greg White.¬† When he hired me, he said, what is wrong with you?¬† This is a job interview.¬† I go, what do you mean?
He goes, well, you're mid‑30s, you're making peanuts at the College of Charleston.¬† What is wrong with you?¬† Like I had a skeleton in the closet.¬† I go, I don't really understand what you're talking about.¬† He opened up my coat, and he said is that Armani?¬† And I go, I'm not sure.¬† It happened to be, and it was the only Armani coat that I owned.¬† He didn't realize that.
He goes, if you come to work for me for two years, you'll be a Division I assistant coach at a BCS school, or you'll be a head coach, and he was prophetic.¬† Two years later, I get the Winthrop job.
Q.¬† What will be your plan of attack defensively against Deshaun Thomas?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† Oh, just limit his touches.¬† Make him take hard shots.¬† He is a‑‑ and this is a compliment‑‑ he is a bad shot taker and a bad shot maker.¬† That is hard to do.¬† But that's how talented he is.¬† He can take bad shots and make them.¬† What we've got to do is make him take bad shots and hopefully miss a great majority of them.
Q.¬† Just in the time you've been at Wichita, Butler has been to a National Championship game, VCU has been to the Final Four.¬† You've had success in the tournament.¬† How much in the college basketball world do you feel like perception of the "mid‑majors" has changed quite a bit in a short time?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† I do.¬† And we talked about that earlier.¬† I think it started with Mark Few, and I'm sure there were mid‑majors prior to that, Indiana State in '79.¬† But let's talk about in the last 20 years, I guess.¬† It was Gonzaga, and then George Mason, VCU, Butler, Davidson, College of Charleston, they won a game.¬† I think they beat Stanford right after I left.¬† Some of the players that I helped coach and recruit when I went to Marshall, I think in '95, they beat Stanford in the first round and lost to Arizona, who ended up winning the whole thing, and they had a shot to beat Arizona that I think Bibby and Miles Simon were on that team.¬† But they beat Maryland in the first round.¬† I apologize.
But those things happen more readily now, and I don't know why.¬† I'm not smart enough to figure all of that out.¬† Maybe it's coaching stability.¬† I don't know.
Q.¬† Is a bad shot taker kind of like a volume shooter?¬† And is it more demoralizing when somebody makes some goofy thing like that?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† That's a great question, and that's a great point.¬† Yeah, volume shooter.¬† He takes twice as many shots as anyone else on their team, so you better guard him.¬† You better stop him first because he's going to take a lot of shots.
But he's an NBA guy.¬† He makes shots.¬† The NBA game, they have 24 seconds and they clear it out and they have those lines and it's one‑on‑one.¬† And you hear the Bum Bum Bum, Bum Bum Bum, we try to create better shots than that for our guys.
If our guys can make those shots and sometimes Cleanthony Early and some of those guys try those shots, but he's the guy that can make those shots and that's why he'll play at that level.¬† But ultimately guarded shots, contested shots are harder to make than uncontested shots.
Q.¬† Is it more demoralizing?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† You know, I don't know.¬† That's a little tricky, because it's demoralizing for me as a coach when you leave them wide open and they just get a wide open look.¬† Now, it's also demoralizing to a point where you have great defenses and unbelievable contest and they still make the shot.¬† And then you go, what else can I do?¬† But at that point you clap your hands and say keep defending.¬† The odds are in our favor.
Q.¬† Miller said last night he could live with it if the shot had been contested by Ross, but they messed up the switch, and you know?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† That's demoralizing when you leave him wide open, as a coach.
Q.¬† In this team, who is the biggest sleeper in terms of a guy you recruited that fewer people wanted or a guy who has come the longest in his development?
COACH MARSHALL:¬† On my team?¬† Well, Cleanthony had pretty good recruitment.¬† Carl had BCS recruitment.¬† Malcolm played at a BCS school, probably Cotton and Baker.¬† I think we beat Murray State on Cotton and SouthDakota State on Baker, maybe.¬† So those would be the two I would have to say.
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