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March 9, 2014

Ron Baker

Tekele Cotton

Cleanthony Early

Gregg Marshall

Fred VanVleet


Wichita State – 83
Indiana State – 69

THE MODERATOR:  Victorious Shockers are here, the champions of the tournament.  We're going to open up the proceedings as usual with a statement from Head Coach Gregg Marshall, and then we'll go with questions for the four student‑athletes.
COACH MARSHALL:  Just very pleased our guys were able to make the plays down the stretch to beat a very talented and very determined Indiana State team.  Knew they were going to come out like that.  I knew it was going to be a long day and we were going to have to play well.
They made the run to cut it to five two times, and we continued to make big play after big play, get a stop, make a jump shot, or get it inside and get fouled.  Just want to thank these guys for an incredible run thus far.

Q.  Are you excited to get to this stage of the season where nobody's going to be able to knock the level of competition you're playing starting in ten days?
FRED VAN VLEET:  We don't really care about that.  We understand.  In the Valley, you're going on the road and all that.  That stuff's not easy for the outside world looking in.  They can take that stuff for granted, but we don't.
It is exciting coming to tournament time.  The big dance for all the marbles.  As competitors, you look forward to that.  We're just happy to get this done first.  Our goal was to go 3‑0, and that's what we did.
RON BAKER:  I think the exciting point for us is finally to get to play against someone other than Evansville or Indiana State or someone in our conference.  It's been a long conference season, and it's going to get some new competition on our plate.  We'll see how we handle it then.

Q.  Ron, could you take us through the play when you landed on Odum.  What happened in that instance?
RON BAKER:  I thought he was trying to take a charge, and I just landed on him.  We had a short conversation where I asked him if he's all right and he asked me if I'm all right, and I helped him up.

Q.  Looked like he hurt his hand.
RON BAKER:  No, he didn't say anything about his hand.

Q.  This is for Ron.  Ron, after‑‑ when Indiana State took Odum out of the game, you gestured to the Wichita State crowd to give Odum a hand.  Can you talk about what it was like to play against him this year and what it was like to play against Indiana State in general.
RON BAKER:  That kid right there is a very special kid.  He's had a really strong four years at his university.  He's put up very special numbers.  He's made history there.
I'm just sad for his fans to see him not accomplish what he was trying to accomplish, but right there, I was just trying to give him some love because he deserved it.  He played a hard game, and his career will always be looked at.

Q.  Fred, take us through kind of your mindset when you see the shot clock down six, five, four.  What are you thinking and why are you so calm at that moment?
FRED VAN VLEET:  Honestly, I'm just trying to get the ball on the rim and get a shot up.  For a while there, we had four or five bad possessions in a row, and nobody was taking shots, and we were taking bad shots and turning the ball over.
So coming down the stretch‑‑ I had opportunities all game that I was passing up because I didn't want to be overly aggressive and force the issue.  But coming down the stretch, I just was a little bit more aggressive and took advantage of some opportunities I had, and the ball dropped for me.

Q.  Fred, when they switch and you get that big man on you, is that one of your goals?  You like that situation?
FRED VAN VLEET:  Well, there's a counter for everything.  Their game plan was to switch, obviously, and putting the five man on me, I'm taking chances, reading him, and if he comes up on me, I'm going to try to drive by him.  If he backs up, I'm going to pull up, and that's what I was doing late.
But the way they were guarding and ball screening, they were switching a lot and changing their schemes a lot throughout the game, and I just finally got a good rhythm late.

Q.  This question is for Tekele.  Can you talk about the evolution of your shot becoming more reliable from the perimeter and what you've worked on to become pretty dependable from the outside?
TEKELE COTTON:  Over the years that I've been here, when people like sag off of me, it's not a good feeling to have when people are sagging off of you.  So you've got to work on your shot and be comfortable shooting your shot.
When you hear your coaches and your teammates telling you to shoot the ball, encouraging you to shoot the ball, it makes life a lot better.

Q.  This question is for anybody.  Now that you guys have completed the regular season, you're 34‑0.  Is it more of a celebration that you got here, or is it a relief that you're undefeated, and you can stop worrying about that and go into the tournament?
CLEANTHONY EARLY:  I wouldn't say it's a relief, but we understand what we accomplished is something special.  We've just got to prepare this week.

Q.  Cleanthony and Fred, what's this wait going to be like this week?  What do you kind of do this week?  How do you get refreshed and get ready to go?
CLEANTHONY EARLY:  We definitely have to take care of our bodies and just go to treatment, ice up, and stretch, and stay loose and keep our minds prepared for the game.  I'm pretty sure Coach will find a way to do that with practices and weight rooms and stuff like that.  Just keep doing what we've been doing.
FRED VAN VLEET:  I think you're asking the wrong guys.  Probably should ask Coach that question.  We don't have any control on that.  We trust him, and he trusts us to be honest about how we're feeling.
He's been doing this long enough to know what it takes to be ready going into the tournament.  So we'll go back to class, and I'm sure we'll find out what's the plan tomorrow.
RON BAKER:  We just want an off day tomorrow.  We need it.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll stay here with Coach Marshall.

Q.  Gregg, I asked you before the tournament if you liked St. Louis.  I don't know if you have an answer for that now.  Would you like to come back to St. Louis in two weeks?  Would that be the best destination?
COACH MARSHALL:  Yeah, it's certainly growing on me.  Again, it's been a good couple of months here.  I thought that St. Louis win at St. Louis was really big for us.
I really did enjoy‑‑ I've never been to the World Series.  I really did enjoy both the hospitality, the city and the atmosphere.  It's two of the greatest programs in major league baseball history.
And then culminated with this three straight wins to get to 34‑0.  It would be something that we're comfortable with.  There would not be any "ooh, aah" moments.  I think we'd actually be staying, if we get the right seed, in the same hotel, which we're very comfortable with.  We know the routine there.  The breakfasts are very good.
So from that standpoint, it would be good, and I think Shocker Nation travels pretty well.  I think there would be quite a number of yellow and black clad fans in the stands.  So it be would fun.

Q.  Gregg, what is the state of the health of your team?  How healthy is your team?
COACH MARSHALL:  I think very healthy.  I think nicks and dings and bruises, but nothing that is‑‑ Ron's ankle is better.  That was our most significant injury of the year, I think.
So relative to a lot of other teams‑‑ and this has a way of evening out over the course of my career.  Last year we were banged up the whole year, except for the first nine games.  But then this year we stay relatively injury free.  That's how you're able to do some things like 34‑0.  You have to stay healthy and have very, very good players.

Q.  Fred, late in the shot clock, what do you attribute his mastery of that situation to?
COACH MARSHALL:  Just being very talented, being very self‑assured.  He's got a lot of confidence in his ability, as he should.  He gave me one of those looks again.  He hits that shot to put us up either 12 or 15 late in the clock from out top, maybe just a little off to the left of the key, and he just gave me that look, and I said, "Okay."
Just like the one he gave me when we hit the shot against Gonzaga to put us up five with 40 seconds to go, I said, "Okay, we're going to win the game."
So it's pretty nice, pretty comforting to have him make those type plays.

Q.  Coach, this is your first championship of the MVC since 1987.  What can you say a little bit about that?
COACH MARSHALL:  I think it's just something that, since I've been the coach, the amount of time, energy, money that Shocker Nation has spent making the trek from, not just Wichita, Kansas City area.  I met a gentleman on this trip from Colwich, which is 30 miles outside of Wichita, and he owns a feedlot, has a small feedlot, 1,000 head of cattle, and he and his family come as much as they can, just about every year.  He was ecstatic to be here.
I think, as the season went on and the way we were playing, I think 4,500 became 6,000, and today probably in excess of 7,000 people because they wanted to see this.  It's so important to them, and it's important to me and my players to be able to give this to them for the first time in 27 years.
It shouldn't be that long, and I'm to blame for the last six years‑‑ or maybe the last five.  I'm not sure John Wooden could have won that first year.  We've been close, but we just haven't gotten over the top.
I'm very pleased and honored to be the one to bring the trophy back to Wichita.  I told my players, short of the Final Four last year, I think this is going to be one of the biggest celebrations back in Wichita than we've had in a long time.  We've won regular seasons.  We've been to Sweet 16s.  We've been to the Final Four.  Short of that Final Four, I think this is going to be really appreciated and honored.
So we got the monkey off our back, so to speak.

Q.  Coach, do you have a message for any skeptics that may still be out there after the win today?
COACH MARSHALL:  No.  No, Bernie, I don't.

Q.  Just a quick yes or no question first, and then I'll follow up.  Did they fix the nail up there?
COACH MARSHALL:  They fixed the nail, thank you very much.  They fixed the nail.  It must have been karma.  As we corrected Tekele's name, he's now the MVP, probably going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated again for the second time in four weeks.  What a wonderful performance he had.
Got two tough calls.  He got the one foul on the play where Ron was hit in the head and was kind of dazed, and he got a foul in transition there, which should have never happened.  They should have gotten the foul the first time.  But even the best miss an occasional call.  And then he got other one when Odum, I thought, fell down, just fell down.  So he had to sit for about eight minutes at the end of the first half, and he still gets MVP.
So they fixed the nail, Tekele was MVP, and it's all good.
Bernie, I want to get back to you.  I might have an answer.  I'm going to go with the Chadrack Lufile's tweet about two weeks ago.  Wolves do not fret over the opinions of sheep.

Q.  Gregg, what will you do during this time off?  Do you change anything now that you're not going to be probably a 1 seed as opposed to last year coming into a different situation?
COACH MARSHALL:  Do I change anything?

Q.  As far as getting ready, looking to selection Sunday.
COACH MARSHALL:  No.  That worked pretty well last year.  We were two possessions away from playing for a National Championship.  So if I do get off my‑‑ that same path a little bit, Paul, I'm sure you'll be around to let me know, and I want to make sure you get me back on that path because that was a good one.

Q.  Not many teams have been able to tighten the gap in the second half.  How reassuring is it that your team stay calm down the stretch?
COACH MARSHALL:  There were some anxious moments.  Again, I said this many times, it's very comforting to have this group of young men on our bench, on the court, representing us in the locker room, in the community.  They're quality individuals.  They're quality players.  They have tremendous swagger and confidence in their own abilities.  They play extremely hard on both ends.
And they did it again.  We were challenged by a very well‑coached team that was playing‑‑ I'll say this.  This is not a slam on them.  They wanted to be part of that NCAA Tournament, and I wish our league had been good enough this year that they would get an at large, honestly, because I think they can do some damage.
They're hard to guard when Odum's stirring that drink and Gant's picking and popping and Arop. Dawon Cummings didn't play particularly well, but he's a talented player.  Khristian Smith is a talented player, and Greg does a wonderful job.  So I knew they were going to do it like that.
To cut it to five, to do basically a 10‑0 run because we were up 15, and have us on the ropes.  When the guy said yesterday, "Do you want a one possession, two possession game?"  I said, "No, I'd rather have the 40‑point blowout."  I did not anticipate that in any form.  The game was somewhere in between there, but when they cut it to five, it was a ball game, and we made the plays to get over the hump.
I hope they get to the NIT at least and do extremely well and win the whole thing.

Q.  You said in this room last year that you thought your team was going to be pretty good this year, and that was before your Final Four run last year.  How do you capsulize the level of your program over the course of the last year?
COACH MARSHALL:  Just unbelievable, special, extraordinary.  It's just awesome to coach these guys.  I mean, if you've put your life's work into coaching, which I have, and to be able to coach the quality of individuals that I'm coaching, to be as easily coached as these young men are, to do it the right way, as Dr. Bardo always refers to, not just the fact that they win, but how they go about their daily work on the campus, in the community.  They're just fine young gentlemen.
They also happen to be extraordinarily talented, and they're taking us on some crazy magic carpet ride.  So it's really cool.
THE MODERATOR:  Gregg, on behalf of the Missouri Valley Conference, go get 'em.  Thank you, everyone.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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