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Men's Basketball Talks About Upcoming Brazil Trip


GO WILDCATS Senior Rodney McGruder is one of seven players with starting experience returning for K-State in 2012-13.
GO WILDCATS
Senior Rodney McGruder is one of seven players with starting experience returning for K-State in 2012-13.
GO WILDCATS

July 18, 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- First-year Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber and several Wildcat players talked to the area media on Tuesday as they continue their preparations for their trip to Brazil August 8-17.

Below is a full transcript of that media session:


Head Coach Bruce Weber

On the new NCAA practice rules and its affect on him for his first year at Kansas State…
“For the first time, the NCAA has allowed us to work out with the players during the summer months and that’s a great decision.  All the coaches I’ve talked to are positive about it.  It’s something we have fought for forever.  We get the two hours in of practice along with the weight training we had before and now when we throw in practices, it’s been good and also intense.  We’re getting the system in, we’re getting to know each other, and those last five days before we go on the trip we’re putting in plays to have more organization.”

On how beneficial the Brazil trip will be for the freshmen…
“I think more than anything, the practices.  Also, it’ll be beneficial so that the freshmen can learn the intensity of college basketball.  College basketball is different.  They have to learn to play during every play and not take any plays off.  There are good defenders going against them.  I don’t know how good the competition will be down there.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.  The chemistry is just as important as anything else.  Getting to know each other, enjoying each other, learning about each other, and then you’ll see how guys react.  It’s one thing to do it in drills; it’s another thing to do it in live practice, and then the real thing when there’s an opponent… that’s the real test of what kind of player you are.”

On the top priority of the coaches…
“Our priorities are for the players to have a great attitude, be coachable, listen, learn the game and learn what we want them to learn.  There’s some new terminology and things like that.  Basketball is pretty simple, but everyone does it a little bit different.  Coach Martin and his staff got them to play hard and compete hard.  That’s what we’re trying to continue.  Now, also, the heart is there, the intensity is there.  We have to think a little bit—let’s keep our poise and composure, along with doing our skill work.  That’s important, too.”

On what he sees out of Rodney McGruder…
“Rodney comes every day.  He brings it.  He loves to play, loves to compete, sometimes too much.  It’s almost like calm down—you don’t have to be in every drill.  You love that.  You’d rather have it that way than to prod him every day to get going.  His strengths are his body for a big guard/swingman he can get to the basket; he can also post people up.  When I’ve talked to NBA people, they’re surprised he’s only about a 40 percent 3-point shooter.  I’ve talked to him about being a 42-43 percent 3-point shooter.  He has to work on playing without the basketball, coming off the screen and being able to jump up and shoot it, mid-range game—he’s good on the floaters, but the pull-up jumper—adding those things to his game.”

On Omari Lawrence standing out and being a bright spot…
“I think the biggest thing with him—I said he was a surprise, but in some ways that’s almost a negative because he wasn’t doing what he should have been doing or what you’d expect him to do in the spring.  He’s been pretty positive about coming in with a good attitude, playing hard.  He’s lost a lot of weight.  He’s more active, he’s not backing down to a Rodney McGruder everyday and that’s good for Rodney, too.  Rodney used to push everyone around.  Now, Shane Southwell and Omari are standing up against him, which helps them, Rodney and the team.”

On the status of Jeremy Jones…
“He got back late to summer school, which put him in a bind with the coaches and the team.  We allowed him an in-between period to get back.  He’s back in school, he worked out with us and he practiced a few days.  He came to me yesterday and just said he wasn’t sure what his future entails.  I might want to play closer to home and do something different.  It’s something I talked to him about in the spring.  I want him to be successful—I’ve known him for a long time.  I know his high school coach and his people.  Whatever he thinks is in his best interests, I want to help him.  He can graduate in a year.  The most important thing is to give him that chance.”
 
Senior Guard/Forward Rodney McGruder
On what he’s improved on during the offseason…
“I’ve been getting better at every aspect.  Coaches are really pushing us, and everyone on the team is getting better.”

On what he’s looking forward to the most during the Brazil trip…
“I want to see how guys gel with the new coaching staff, and also how we do playing against other people besides each other.  I just want to see how we come together as a team.”

On getting the extra practice time in the summer…
“It’s a big difference, being that we’ve never practiced before in the summer.  I think it’s tough for the young guys who haven’t been used to college workouts yet.  We played early in the summer but that’s it.  It helps out a lot, especially since we have a different coaching staff, they can see what we need to work on and also get used to the new coaches as well.”

On the experience of attending the Kevin Durant Skills Academy…
“It was a great experience.  I learned a lot of different moves and learned a lot of new ways to get open.  We did a lot of skill work and I got to compete against the top guards in the country.  It was what I expected—I received a lot from the camp.”

On recovering off of foot surgery…
“Everything has been on schedule.  At first, I had a little soreness in my foot but now I feel like I’m 100 percent.  I can’t wait until Brazil.  I’m able to do everything.”

Senior Center Jordan Henriquez
On how he feels about facing the competition in Brazil playing professional teams…
“It feels good.  I may be playing against professional teams sometime next year around this time.  It’ll be a fun experience.”

On what he wants the team to make strides in while in Brazil…
“I’d like to see the team get to know each other a little more.  Actually playing together and doing the right things.  That’s the main goal.”

On the benefits of having the new special practice window…
“It’s different especially with individual workouts and practices.  It helps us build together, besides from us playing at open gym everyday and being in the weight room.  It’s a lot different but it’s a good feeling.”

On how his game has changed since the end of last season…
“I’m just trying to build my game where I left off from last season.  That’s the main point I’m trying to get across.  I’m still here for my team as a senior and a captain, trying to do things and lead the right way.”

On how the workouts have been with the new staff compared to the old staff from the past few years…
“Not too many differences.  Things are still intense.  They’re different coaches so they have different coaching styles.  It’s an adjustment—we’re all trying to adjust.  We’re all buying in and getting ready to go to Brazil.  With us buying in and getting ready to go to Brazil, that’s helping us.”

Junior Guard Omari Lawrence
On what the coaching change is like…
“Coach Weber is calm, easy going, positive to the teammates and myself.  I’m happy and looking forward to playing for him.”

On if being a slasher is where his game is…
“That’s where my game is, but I’ve been concentrating on shooting a lot of 3s, including set 3s and also off the dribble.  I have been in the gym after hours to try to increase my range.”

On what position he sees himself playing…
“Either at the two or the three as a combo guard.  Wherever he needs me to be on the floor to help rebound and score, whatever I can do to help the team.”

On being able to practice in the summer…
“I feel it’s a great experience to bond as a team as it gets closer to the season and work together so we can all get used to the new system.”

On what he thinks is the most exciting part of this upcoming season…
“Finally being able to see myself play on the court with the group of guys and being able to help the team.  With Brazil, it’s a great experience because we’ll be able to get ready for the season and work out together.”

Freshman Forward D.J. Johnson
On trying to work on his offensive game…
“Things are going good so far.  Coach Lowery is teaching me a lot of new stuff.”

On the difference coming in as an incoming freshman…
“The competition has been the difference so far.  I have to play against Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez, and they give me good competition.  I’m not used to that from my high school days.  I’m not the biggest guy anymore.”

On what it’s been like to be at Kansas State so far…
“It’s been great.  They have shown me a lot of new stuff, they always make me work hard and make me finish off drills all the time.  They’re definitely pushing me and showing me the right way to do things.”

On what the coaches have tried to emphasize to the big men…
“To go hard at all times.  Jordan Henriquez does that really well.  He always tells me not to not take any plays off and to always run up and down the floor.”

On looking forward to the Brazil trip…
“I’m looking forward to going to Brazil but I’m more looking forward to getting on the court, seeing how my game transitions and how I fit into the game play.”

Freshman Guard Michael Orris
On how fierce the competition is at the guard position….
“Everyone wants to play yet at the same time, we’re all teammates.  From me to Angel (Rodriguez) to Will (Sprading) to Martavious (Irving), everyone likes to compete.  There is no lack of competition—it’s very competitive, and I don’t think anyone would want it any other way.”

On what he’s doing to stand out in practice…
“I’m just trying to do all the little things.  That’s what I bring to the table.  Make the simple pass, get the guy an open shot, get a charge—bring the intangibles to the game.  That’s what I do best, and that’s what I try to do to set myself apart.”

On participating in summer practices and going on the Brazil trip as a freshman…
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.  Brazil is a blessing in disguise because we get to play college-type games before the college season starts, including pro teams.  Then being together as a team, seeing how the team functions in game situations, I can’t wait to do it.  It’ll give me a jump on my freshman year to see how I play with the guys in a game-type situation and to get a good feel of things.”

On the Brazil class to prepare the team for the Brazil trip…
“It’s been good!  We’ve just been learning about Brazil….do different things.  All the guys are in the class together, and that doesn’t happen quite often, so it’s been a lot of fun.  I’m sure we’ll have tours set up and then write a paper when we get back.  We learned about the Brazilian monetary system and the things of what to do and what not to do.”