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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: SAN DIEGO


March 20, 2014


Markel Brown

Travis Ford

Marcus Smart


SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We are joined by Marcus Smart and Markel Brown.テつ Questions for our student athletes.

Q.テつ Marcus, you made a big decision to come back.テつ Look at everything that's happened this year and where you are right now, do you feel like you made the right decision?テつ Are you happy with the decision when you reflect on it?
MARCUS SMART:テつ Definitely.テつ I never regretted coming back.テつ It was my decision, and it's what I really wanted so I'm very happy with the decision I made.テつ This team has made my decision to come back well worth my while.テつ These are a group of guys that I got a bond with that will never be broken.テつ These guys are one of the best I've played with in the country as teammates and as friends.
I can depend on these guys for whatever I need, as teammates and as friends.テつ I can depend on these guys for whatever I need.

Q.テつ With the games that you had to sit out from the suspension, how was that time in any way productive for you?
MARCUS SMART:テつ It allowed my teammates‑‑ not just me and my teammates, but it allowed them to figure out things on their own and to prove to people that this isn't a one‑man team and they can play, and it helped me in the sense that I could see things that I wouldn't see on the court playing as a player that the coaching staff sees and tries to point out to us, and I can reflect that to my teammates and put that into my game and get my teammates involved with what the coaches see, and I see to help us be a better helps me inspect sense that I could see things that I wouldn't see on the court playing as a player that the coaching staff sees and tries to point out to us and I can reflect that to my teammates and put that into my game and get my teammates involved with what the coaches see and I see to help us be a better.
You can see your team mates struggling and they're doing the same things, then you can understand what the coaches are trying to help you with.

Q.テつ Markel, this is a team that can hit the 3 and hurt you inside with guys like Sam Dower.テつ How are you guys going to handle that?テつ Can you say, I wanted to ask you, you grew up playing basketball, you're a great player, you go up through the ranks and then something happens like happens this year with the Texas Tech fan.テつ Does it bother you that a lot of the people in the country who don't see Oklahoma State basketball would think of the team.

MARKEL BROWN:テつ Like what Marcus was saying, we are going to help our big men out and close in out shooters.テつ We know this team can hurt us from inside and out and we gotta go in there and n physical with this team and go in there and do things we have been taught since November.

Q.テつ Marcus, I wanted to ask you, you grew up playing basketball, you're a great player, you go up through the ranks and then something happens like happens this year with the Texas Tech fan.テつ Does it bother you that a lot of the people in the country who don't see Oklahoma State basketball would think of the team just because of that or think of you because of that incident?
MARCUS SMART:テつ At all it doesn't surprise me, in today's society that's how it is.テつ They go off what they hear and see.テつ But everybody is entitled to their own opinion.テつ As long as we know who we really are as a team and as individuals and our character, it doesn't matter what other people think.
Like I said, everybody has a right to their own opinion so they're going to think things no matter if they know you or they don't.

Q.テつ Markel, what is your pven how Marcus handled the situation in the after math and the how he's contributed in the after math?
MARKEL BROWN:テつ I think the situation made him stronger as a person.テつ I feel like he handled it in the best way possible.テつ He apologized for his actions and he bounced back, like, no other athlete can.テつ He's improved daily on and off the court and he's a great person to be around.テつ At the end of the day I'm happy to be sitting here alongside him.
He's accomplished a lot of things, and I feel like he did the right thing after.

Q.テつ For Marcus, you guys have a lot of big back courts, in the Big 12, Gonzaga might be considered one of the best back courts.テつ What do you think about their backcourt?
MARCUS SMART:テつ We know they have an outstanding backcourt with Stockton, Bell, and Pangos, all great guys that can play.テつ Just because they're undersized doesn't mean it's an advantage or disadvantage, we're going to go out there and play like we play every game and not take everyone for granted.
THE MODERATOR: テつAny other questions for the student athletes?

Q.テつ The meeting in Stillwater last year, I think Gary Bell probably guarded you for the most part but was there anything unique about their approach?テつ Did they do anything special in terms of guarding you?
MARCUS SMART:テつ No, not really.テつ They put their best defender on me and they thought I was Oklahoma State's best offensive player and it was two great teams going at it before the country, and trying to bring out a win and the results doesn't go out way but it was a well‑fought game and everyone contributed from Oklahoma State, Markel Brown I like to think it one of the better players in the country.テつ It wasn't just me out there.テつ If it wasn't for him keeping the defense honest and opening things up for me, then I wouldn't have those 23 points.

Q.テつ Marcus, is John Stockton somebody you have studied at all as a point guard and do you see any similarities with his son's game?
MARCUS SMART:テつ You know, I don't try to‑‑ a lot of people ask me who you do you think you model your game after.テつ This will be another John Stockton son, I'm Marcus Smart, and John Stockton is an unbelievable player, much respect.テつ I can see us having similarities, but like I said, there will never be another John Stockton.

Q.テつ For both you guys, Marcus, first, you guys in part came back for another year to play with OSU to make a better run in the NCAA Tournament, now that it's here and your chance is here, the thoughts going through your head?
MARCUS SMART:テつ I'm ecstatic about it.テつ Not many teams can say we made it to the NCAA Tournament.テつ It's every college student athlete's dream to make it to the NCAA Tournament, just try to make a run and give yourself an opportunity.テつ That's what we have here.テつ I'm blessed, and I thank God every day for my teammates and my family and everybody that supported me and supported this team.
We're going to go out there and have fun and play basketball.
MARKEL BROWN:テつ I agree with Marcus.テつ It's a blessing to be here, especially two years in a row for this program.テつ We came back and we owe it all to our teammates.テつ We got a lot of great teammates in the locker room, Le'Bryan Nash, Phil Forte and others, and we feel like we can make a run in the tournament.

Q.テつ Are you feeling pressure to make that run now that it's here?
MARCUS SMART:テつ No, not at all, no pressure on me, like I had.テつ That's what I have the teammates for, they take all the pressure off me.テつ This is a team thing not an individual thing and like I said, we have one of the best teammates on the team with Brian Murphy and Marcus Brown, Le'Bryan Nash andPhil Forte.テつ It relieves pressure off me and Markel and it helps us tremendously.

Q.テつ Markel, is there anything these last few weeks that you can point to, why you guys are playing better and gotten your groove back a bit?
MARKEL BROWN:テつ I guess you could say we came together as a team.テつ We put all of our egos aside and we came together as one.テつ Like I said earlier we came back to our principles of November, sharing the ball and helping each other out when something is not going our way.テつ Feeding off each other.テつ Like Marcus said we have a lot of weapons on this team from me to Marcus, to Phil Forte to Le'Bryan Nash and any given night any one of us can be on that night.
We've just watched a lot of film and took notice to who was‑‑ who had the hot hand and who we need to feed at that moment.

Q.テつ You guys talked about how you feel like you're one of the best in the country making a run.テつ Looking ahead if you were to win and Arizona were to win you would have to beat a No. 1 seed in the next round.テつ How daunting is that?テつ Do you pay attention to the seeding?
MARCUS SMART:テつ Not at all.テつ Both teams, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga going at it, whoever wins that game is going to have another great match‑up with between whoever wins between Arizona and everybody, so it's going to be great games Friday and Sunday so we're not focused on the seeding, we're playing basketball and having fun.
MARKEL BROWN:テつ I agree with Marcus, honestly I just want to get my first NCAA win as a college basketball player and I'm not looking ahead to the schedule, I just want to go out there and focus on Gonzaga Friday night, Friday morning, afternoon, and who knows if we're going to play Arizona next round or if Weber State wins.テつ You never know in this tournament so we want to go out there and focus on Gonzaga.

Q.テつ Gonzaga this season is a much different team than they have been the last couple of seasons.テつ Are you guys going to be able to take away anything from the last two meetings, one in Stillwater and one in Spokane?
MARCUS SMART:テつ Definitely.テつ I wasn't there for the first meeting but from our perspective, Gonzaga's head coach, one of the best college coaches in the country and his team is all about difference and pride and they're going to go out there and fight hard, no matter what the score is, and the time on the clock they're going to continue to fight so you can never count them out.テつ Taking from that game and playing at Stillwater they're going to keep coming at you, whether they're up by 20 or down by 20 so you can never count 'em out.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you, gentlemen.テつ Coach Travis Ford has joined us.テつ Comments, Coach?
COACH FORD:テつ Excited to be in San Diego.テつ Playing against a really, really good team that's playing great basketball right now in Gonzaga.テつ Looking forward to tomorrow.

Q.テつ Travis, the last seven games have really kind of changed the opinion of a lot of people about you guys.テつ It seems in stark contrast to the previous seven games.テつ Is there a reason why all of the sudden‑‑ Marcus comes back and y'all kind of look like the team you did in November.
COACH FORD:テつ Yeah, I think your last statement there, we were 16‑3 at one time so everything was going along pretty good.テつ And then a lot of things happened, between injuries and dismissals and obviously the suspension and just not playing well.テつ A lot of things happened.テつ Winning a very difficult stretch, the last seven games, is more indicative of who our team is and who we want to be.テつ It's kind of just a stark contrast between the last three weeks compared to three weeks before that as far as who‑‑ what we're capable of and what we got away from.
There was so much that we went through during that period, so many different things.テつ Hopefully we learned from it, hopefully it made us stronger.テつ I think we knew what we were capable of because we'd done it and we did it with Michael Cobbins and things like that, but it's amazing, being involved in the game and coaching for a long time, you go through stretches and you can go two different ways.テつ You know, you can fold the tents up and say, "Woe is me and I wish this hadn't happened," this and that or you can rally around each other and get a desperate state and respond to it.
I think that's what we did.テつ We stayed in the Baylor locker room after losing in overtime.テつ It was a defining moment, Marcus wasn't there but we lost to a very good Baylor team in overtime and I met the team.テつ I never do meet them as they're coming in but I made it in first.テつ I wanted to be in there first and as soon as they came in, I knew what was going to happen, there were tears, there were people down and I immediately told our team "Get your head up now.テつ We don't have time for this."テつ I looked at everyone and said "We must win on Saturday, we have to beat Texas Tech," and from that point on we decided to turn things around and have played much better basketball than we did those prior games.

Q.テつ Can you talk about Marcus' year, obviously the expectations of coming back, then the suspension, then the come‑back from the suspension.テつ How he's handled it and how you handled him during this time.
COACH FORD:テつ Well, again, there was a lot of‑‑ there was so much‑‑ I don't know if anybody could have lived up to what he was expected to do, the pedestal he was put on but he deserved‑‑ I think everybody respected that he came back, everybody respected and loves what he stands for.テつ There is a lot of pressure that goes along with that.
For the most part I think he's handled it extremely well.テつ Obviously there have been circumstances that he's learned from, things I wish hadn't happened but in the long run now, two years from now, five years from now that might help him deal with certain things that come his way.
But I think for the most part he's handled it extremely well.テつ There is a lot that goes along with being in those shoes.テつ There is a lot!テつ Not just living up to an image the media portrays but all the things we ask him to do within our basketball team.テつ We ask him to do a lot.テつ I think he's responded well, obviously, there was a stretch there that had he learned a lot from, and I thought he handled that well the days after.

Q.テつ You as a coach who sees these young men before they come to your college and follow them afterwards, to see something like that happen, the incident, in split seconds, a quick reaction, how much does it hurt you inside to see that with a kid that you've known for as long as you have and know then what he's‑‑ very quickly know what he's now going to go through for weeks at a time or longer?
COACH FORD:テつ Well no, I don't know if he told you.テつ He has talked about it but as soon as the game was over I met with him immediately, with him in the coach's locker room and I told him exactly that, this is what's getting ready to happen, once I found out.テつ And even Tubby Smith didn't know.テつ Neither of us knew he went into the stands until after the game.テつ We did not ever know that.テつ But once I found out I told him, this is about what is to happen.
I can't describe how it hurt‑‑ I was hurting for him because I know who he is.テつ Like you said, I lived with him daily for the last two years, and I know what type of person he is and all the things he's been through and I know his expectations he has for himself, much less what expectations other people expect out of him.テつ I know the standard he holds himself to.テつ I don't know if he can ever lived up to that.テつ He's his own toughest critic at times and I think that kind of got to his‑‑ that's what led a little bit to the frustration because he's the most competitive person there is.
I knew exactly what was going to happen, once I knew and heard about it.テつ Now, I did not see it until much later that night, but I anticipated it, and I felt very bad for him because I know him, and I knew what he was going to go through but also I knew that he would be able to handle it.テつ He's, as you probably saw up here, I don't know what he said or anything but Marcus is aware of a lot of things.テつ He understands it, he gets it.テつ And very proud of how he's handled all kinds of situations, all kinds, and that was one of 'em.
That's a great question.テつ I hurt for him.テつ I hurt for him because I knew he was going to get portrayed one way and I understood that.テつ It wasn't like‑‑ I wasn't blaming anybody, saying, I can't believe you guys are saying this about him, I understood that, but also no different than you know your own family better than I do, even if I know them, I know Marcus Smart and I said that at the press conference.テつ I know Marcus Smart, he made a mistake and I felt bad for him.テつ I knew what was coming.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thanks, Coach.テつ

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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