Press conference transcript: No. 18/21 K-State preview
Jan. 28, 2013
Associate Head Coach Rob Lanier
On how Kansas State is different from last season with new head coach Bruce Weber: They are very similar - that is unique and where they deserve a lot of credit. I know Coach Weber's history and how good of a coach he has been. I couldn't speak for them and say they've made a concerted effort to do this, but in watching them play, I have to say that they've done a great job of recognizing the program's success under (former head coach) Frank Marin and making things as similar as possible so that they could have a level of continuity on the floor. They have done a great job of that, and at the same time, still doing things Bruce's way. They have not missed a beat program-wise with that transition. I think their staff deserves a lot of credit for that.
On playing a potentially fired-up Kansas State team coming off two straight losses: If they were coming off a five-game winning streak, we'd be saying they're hot and on a roll. We're playing them at home (in Manhattan, Kan.), so I think we still need to go out and play and worry about ourselves in that regard - focus on what we can control. We were knocking at the door against Kansas. We were knocking on the door at Baylor, who has played well. We believe that we belong; it's just a matter of maturing to a level where we really understand and do what it takes to win.
On whether getting a win on Saturday changes the way his team prepares for Wednesday: Every game, you're preparing for your next opponent. There is a combination of doing what is unique to that particular opponent and assessing where you are as a team and areas you need to get better at on your own. The areas that we need to improve aren't that different today than they were on Friday. We need to keep pressing forward and trying to address some of the things that we need to improve on and then we need to prepare for Kansas State because they are a different opponent than Texas Tech. I will say that it is really just a day-to-day thing. Get better yourself and getting ready for the next game.
On how Kansas State is a unique opponent: Personnel-wise, they present some challenges. I thought one of the things that stood out in our previous games was that we have a four-man in Papi (Ioannis Papapetrou) that can create some matchup problems for our opponents. He is a very good ball-mover and facilitator. Kansas State, on the other hand, is a very physical team. If I compared them in that regard, it would be West Virginia, from a defensive, physical, rebounding and toughness standpoint. But offensively, they play a smaller guy at the four, who is very skilled and very aggressive - he is shooting 47 percent from 3-point range right now. And they are deep, so they are tough in the half court and physical defensively. Offensively, they run a motion offense, which creates a lot of random situations. A lot of times, you are playing against teams that run sets and you prepare for those sets. You guard and you go from one thing to the next. Their execution is more fluid and more random, so it really puts you in a situation where your team, defensively, needs to play with great urgency and go from one play to the next.
On whether Kansas State's senior guard Rodney McGruder is among the Big 12's best players this season: I base it on fear--who scares me the most when I'm sitting there - Pierre Jackson (Baylor) and Ben McLemore (Kansas). McGruder is right up there with those guys - guys that scare the death out of me if we leave them open for a second or if we play a screen the wrong way and give him some space. At the end of games, I think the guy is a flat-out killer. I think he shows very little emotion when he plays and I love guys like that. He's the kind of player that would play for John Chaney (retired head coach of Temple). I played in the Atlantic 10, and coached in that league for five years, and Chaney's players always played with a toughness and a blank stare. Even when you thought you were doing well against them, it didn't matter. McGruder is a quiet assassin. No matter how he has played for the first 35 minutes, at the end of the game, he is a guy that you need to worry about and those are the guys scare me.
On areas where the Longhorns need to improve as a team: I think the number one thing for us is that we are everything defensively. I think we have had some good numbers defensively. But I do think the numbers lie sometimes. What the numbers say about us is that our effort is pretty good, but I think the greater defensive teams play with a higher level of urgency and they sustain that throughout the game. I think it also reveals itself through rebounding. I don't think we've been great yet defensively. I think we have the opportunity and ability to be really good, but I don't think we play with urgency. The kids make fun of me because I always use the phrase, "Always be on edge," and I don't think we have that. I don't think we've reached a point as a team, collectively, where we are constantly carrying ourselves with the level of urgency that winning at this level requires.
On what makes K-State's home venue, Bramlage Coliseum, such a challenging place to win: For us, they are all challenging - Erwin Center is challenging. I give our guys credit. The first true road game we had was at Michigan State. I don't think we've played in an atmosphere better than that this year. We answered the call, but we didn't do enough of what it takes to win the game. One of the things these guys have to learn is that after they do all the video stuff with the music and introductions, the ball goes up and you need to play the game. I think for the most part, we've done that. We are learning what the grind of a college season is all about. We're going to get out there and do all that. The crowd is going to be great, but these guys have handled that part of it before. We just need to take care of the actual execution.