In less than three years, K-State head coach Frank Martin has taken the men’s basketball team to heights not reached by the Wildcats in several years. Martin recently touched on a variety of topics, including the Wildcats’ return to the national spotlight, his rationale for man-to-man defense, and his demeanor toward the players.
Q: How are the players handling being in the top-10?
A: “They’re kids going through something they’ve never been through before, which is being ranked in the top 10 in the country. Are they going to make a mistake? Probably. Is there going to be a day from here to the end of the year when they’re going to not play as well as I want them to? Probably. They’re kids, and they play their hearts out. If they make a mistake I’m not going to be happy; I’m not going to quit on them either. That’s why you go through a season so you can grow and get better.”
Q: What was it like to look at the rankings Monday and see your team at No. 6?
A: “I’m being honest: I don’t pay attention to them. If today was March 14, whatever day that Sunday is, then I’d be sitting here and I’d be telling you I’m as proud as a peacock. But right now, I’m happy for K-State, I’m happy for our players, but I don’t wait on Monday to see what seed, what ranking we got. I don’t get the bracketology and all that nonsense. My last year at Cincinnati I spent the last six weeks of the season studying that bracketology every day, looking at it, this guy has us in, this guy has us out, and at the end of the day we didn’t win so we got left out, so I spent all my energies worrying about things that weren’t important. The only thing that’s important is winning the next game on the schedule. That’s what I try to do.”
Q: What are your thoughts on zone defenses?
A: “I’ve never liked zone defense. It’s not my personality. It’s a good defense, don’t get me wrong. A lot of people have won a lot of championships playing zone defenses, but you’ve got to coach who you are. I have never been who sits back and kind of lets things come to me. I like to go aggressively to go get what I want, so zones make me impatient.”
Q: Is it more stressful being ranked at this point in the season than it has been earlier?
A: “I’m just as stressed out right now as I was in 1985 when I was coaching a JV basketball team in Miami, Fla. I have a duty to those kids, I have a duty to my assistants, I have a duty to the school who I represent, and it’s about winning that next game. People get caught up in saying high school kids, JV kids, well it’s not about winning. No. If it’s not about winning, they wouldn’t keep score. It is about winning. Life is about winning. If you’re not going to get out of bed and go win, then you’re going to fail, so you’d better understand how to deal with winning and deal with losing. That’s what life’s about. I’ve always lost sleep during the season because I’m so worried about the next game. That doesn’t change because the name of a school is a bigger school or it’s college or whatever it might be.”
Q: What is the approach to practice like after a loss or bad game?
A: “I’m consistent with my emotion with the kids. I get more upset with them for not going to class than I do for losing by 40. Those things happen in sports. It’s a long season. You’ve got to stay the course.”
– Compiled by Ashley Dunkak