College Basketball's Best Coaches
CollegeHoops.net is lucky to have access to some of the best coaches in college basketball. As part of our preseason interview series, we thought it would be appropriate to ask these basketball minds about the best things that their team and college basketball has to offer.
Frank Martin: Kansas State
We continue this month long Q&A Series with coach Frank Martin, who led the Wildcats to the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament in just his first season. Coach Martin was kind enough to take time out of his busy preseason schedule to answer questions for CollegeHoops.net:
CollegeHoops.net) What will be the best strength of this year's team?
Guard play. Jacob Pullen, who has tremendous confidence and experience
coming off his freshman season, he's a heck of a player, and Denis Clemente,
who's a young man who started for two seasons in the ACC.* He's been
in our system, and understands what we want. When you have two experienced
guards, it gives you a chance. To that, we add a Fred Brown, who saw minutes
at certain times last year, and was productive offensively, and he has grown
tremendously because of his experiences last year. Then, you have a fourth
year guy in Buchi Awaji, who's an older person who has been through the
ropes. You have to be excited
about the depth and experience at guard, and to that you add the experience of our front line. Ron Anderson, Luis Colon, Dominique Sutton, Darren Kent, are guys who have lined up and played in big games for Kansas State.
*Editor: Clemente played at Miami.
CollegeHoops.net) Any weak spots that worry you?
FM) Defensive rebounding. Last year, there were times when we were dependent on Mike Beasley rebounding on the defensive side of the floor. We are not going to have a guy rebound it like Mike did. Collectively, we have to a better job rebounding on the defensive side of the floor.
CHN) Tie score, with just a few seconds left … who will be your go-to guy in those situations?
FM) You have to put the ball in one of your two guards. Jacob Pullen or Denis Clemente. You have to put the ball in their hands and have the confidence since both of them are proven scores in the Division-I level and have the confidence that they will make the right decision for us.
CHN) Who will be the biggest leaders on this year's squad?
FM) Darren Kent and Ron Anderson. We talked to Darren his entire sophomore year about what an incredible feeling it is to be in the NCAA tournament. He learned in his sophomore year that committing yourself to doing something gives you an opportunity. He took it a step forward last year, in helping us finishing third (in the Big XII), and making it to the NCAA tournament. But our guys were not happy being in the tournament for two rounds. They want to go forward in that tournament. I think that fire, and that understanding, how his continued growth and his commitment to work, to winning has shown the results on the other end for him. I think that allowed him to really spread his wings, and lead our team. Ron is a guy that gained valuable experience playing in the Big XII last year, as a seventeen year old freshman. Now he's in a lot better shape, and he's made an unbelievable commitment to making himself better, and he demands that everybody works as hard as he does. He takes pride in working.
CHN) What's the best change you've made in your coaching style in recent seasons?
FM) I am a lot more patient than when I was younger. We spend a lot of hours rehearsing and I get aggravated when we rehearse, and then we go out on the stage and don't do the things we rehearse. But I am a lot more patient in practice and I think fatherhood has helped me a lot in that understanding. When my own kids make mistakes I am not going to turn my back on them. I am going to discipline, teach and hug them and make them understand that they have to move forward. I think fatherhood has helped me move forward with patience and coaching.
CHN) If everything goes according to plan, what's the best case scenario this season?
FM) Compete for the Big 12 title. That is what we aspire to be. We fought our rear ends off two years ago and were in first place after 10 games last year. We are not going to rest here until we give ourselves a chance to compete.