While the wordage was always slightly different, but asked and re-asked, Kansas State’s basketball players were quizzed, almost to the point of being hassled, with the following question: What’s this guy Frank Martin like to play for?
With the first opportunity to answer, Jamar Samuels said, “You do have to have thick skin, but you know he’s just telling you what’s real.
If you’re fine with that, you should be fine at the end of the day.”
Offering a soft chuckle, Samuels added, “Frank is the big guy in your neighborhood. He’s the wise one who teaches you the ways of life. I was a wild horse when I first got here and didn’t want to listen, but he’s shaped me into a good guy. (Pause) At least my mom tells me I’m a good guy.”
When the question was pointed at Rodney McGruder, the answer was much the same: “It’s great playing for him. He prepares you for the real world. You know he’s going to give you everything he has.”
McGruder would add what K-State fans see on the sideline is not the real Frank Martin.
“He has his way of pushing you to get the best out of you, but off the court he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” said McGruder.
While Samuels and McGruder are familiar to Martin’s ways, questions were also fired at those new to the K-State program, but the response was much the same.
“Frank pushes everybody. He wants everyone to reach his potential,” said newcomer Omari Lawrence. “He’s been like a father figure to us.”
Freshman Angel Rodriguez added, “At times you think he’s trying to scare you, but he’s just being real. He wants you to be the best you can be.”
Seemingly tired of the positive responses from the players, Martin, himself, was finally quizzed on what it’s like being coached by this guy Frank Martin.
“I demand that people make the most of who they are every minute of every day,” said Martin. “I demand that our guys excel at everything they do. When I got here we had the worst graduation rate in the Big 12, and today we have the highest graduation rate.”
Martin said raising his basketball team is just like raising his own kids.
“I get mad at my own kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them,” said Martin. “But if all I do is coddle them and create excuses for them, how successful are they going to be in society when they get to my age?” said Martin.
“I look back on the people who influenced my life the most and it’s not the people who were always nice to me. It was the people that demanded a lot out of me.”
Martin went on to say that he takes it as a compliment when people that the K-State team resemble his coaching style with toughness and playing hard often times what is mentioned first.
“That’s how I’ve approached life,” he said. “I go at it and don’t ever step back. If our teams do that, that means were maximizing who we are. That’s what I’m about. It’s how I was raised. I’m a little emotional and I’m not scared to show my emotions in the public eye. With me, what you see is what you get.”
As junior center Jordan Henriquez summarized, “He’s a motivational guy. Whether it’s in an aggressive way or in a passionate way, we know he doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just trying to motivate us to be the best that we can be.”