February 18, 2008

Martin heaps more praise on Beasley

As one Big 12 area writer put it, "Guess it's Michael Beasley Day today, Frank." No apologies necessary. With Beasley earning a league-record fourth straight weekly award, virtually all questions thrown at Kansas State coach Frank Martin during the league teleconference on Monday were aimed toward the national player-of-the-year candidate. Martin called it "unfortunate" that the national media doesn't give Big 12 coaches and players "the same respect as they give the ones out East."

Question: Could you talk about Michael Beasley's development this year, especially with all the things defenses have thrown at him?
Martin: That's what makes him such a special kid and special player is that he doesn't think that he has the answers. He's always listening so he can be as best prepared for the next challenge. I've tried to make it known that if you get to coach a guy like Michael Beasley in your career than coaches will have very successful, long careers not because of how talented he is as a player but because he's such a great player.

Question: You're obviously in the thick of things in the Big 12 race but have a difficult road. Can you talk about going on the road?
Martin: Yeah, I mean, we played well on the road earlier in the year but lately we had a bad second half at Missouri and we had a bad first half at Texas Tech. We've got to figure out a way to go on the road. We've got Nebraska at Nebraska and Baylor at Baylor this week. We obviously have to find a way to put two halves together.

Question: You've obviously got to be really proud of your team to put itself in this position to win the Big 12 Championship.
Martin: Oh, you tell me of another team in the country that plays six freshmen in the regular rotation. I couldn't be happier with what our guys have done since the first day we got together in the summer and since we've continued into our preseason practices and up to this point. They've done anything I've asked of them.

Question: Frank, we talk so much about what Mike does well. Every player can get better. What does Mike need to get better at?
Martin: His ability to continue to understand all the different things people throw at him and how to continue to find ways for our team to score, whether it be him and something he's been doing a lot lately when he's been doubled or tripled getting it to the open man, which allows us to run offense. That's the great thing about him is he's always willing to continue to learn. We've asked Mike to be pretty much a full-time low-post guy on both offense and defense and that's not something that he was when we started the year. He's more of a combo forward. For the good of the team he sacrificed who he is as a player to help us as a team.

Question: Is he the best player in the country?
Martin: That's not for me to decide, but I can tell you I wouldn't want to coach anyone other than him.

Question: Guess it's Michael Beasley Day today, Frank. But kind of along the same lines, I know it's not high on your priorities but in terms of the national picture with all the unprecedented things Kevin Durant did last year as a freshman, do you think that could hurt Michael Beasley's chances of doing the same thing this year as far as the national awards?
Martin: I would like to think that the people who vote would hold it as two individuals. One has nothing to do with the other. It's just like a basketball coach. Whatever successes we continue to have this year will have no bearing on what we do next year, so I would like to think people are consistent in their voting not because of who a player is or where he plays at but because of what he does in a given year.

Question: Frank, it only seems natural to compare Michael with Kevin Durant but are the comparisons truly fair given maybe the different attributes those two players have?
Martin: They're two different players. They were two different players in high school. Kevin was more wired to score. As a high school player, every time I watched him, he was more wired to score. He has unbelievable hands, a lot like Mike. Unbelievable competitor, a lot like Mike. Mike has started to accept being a focal point here in the last year. It started one summer ago in his AAU season and it continued into his senior year at Notre Dame where he continued to be the focal point of their team and led them to a championship and he's continued to accept that role. But it's not something - he's always been a secondary player on every team he's been with up until about a year ago and it's something that he continues to grow in.

Question: How improbable is it for the same conference to have freshmen in back-to-back seasons put up these kinds of numbers?
Martin: I don't know. I think the Big 12, as it was the Big Eight before, has had high-level freshmen. It's just unfortunate that as a conference the national writers don't give us - the coaches, the players, the teams in this league - the same respect as they give the ones out east.

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