Grant's NCAA Blog: Round 1

There is nothing like a 14 hour day to start a week on the road.

We say that tongue in cheek but really, that's what we are looking at with the NCAA Tournament. Day one simply a grind and it's battle in the morning to set yourself up for a good spot for all the media trappings.

One media entrance is available to get youir credentials and the room opens at 9 a.m., even though practices and media sessions don't begin until after lunch time. The reason for that is the seating for your gear. We carry a lot and per the NCAA rules, your local TV station is NOT allowed to shoot any second of any game at the tournament. All video is recorded into our editors and other video, like during practices are for fair game, but that's all you get. Sooo show up early, get a good spot or you will be hosed. I think that's a technical term....

The media sessions are broken up by times and teams, lot of the time so they can cycle the teams in and out of the locker rooms. These arenas are only so big. Fortunately, the K-State locker room is enormous and plenty of room for us to get and ask questions.

I think I was the only one who thought about what life has been like for the Wildcats, one year after the departure of Frank Martin. Frank had them in the NCAA Tournament and rebranded the Wildcats as a force but he was tough on his players and made no bones about it. None of the former players had anything bad to say about Frank. Many of them have a close connection to the coach that recruited them to come to Manhattan. The message was simply that things under Bruce Weber are different. More laidback, more calm, just different. Frank did a lot for K-State basketball - it would be stunning if the players were to throw him under the bus.

KSU ready to dance


K-State sounded excited for La Salle (proper spelling, by the way) and more than anything, just ready to play a game. Angel Rodriguez said he has reminded the younger players, i.e., freshman what the tournament is like but he can't duplicate the atmopshere or even accurately describe it, he said. They have to live it, feel it, actually experience it.

The only impact freshman K-State is DJ Johnson but he comes off the bench and isn't much used outside of the Texas game in the Big 12 Tournament.

K-State is a simple team because even though they are 8-9 deep, according to the players: The offense runs through Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez and Shane Southwell. Dish it out to WIll Spradling and throw it in to Jordan Henriquez or Thomas Gipson but the scoring comes from McGruder.

He is the leader of the team, even though he is quiet about his leadership. He is just quiet in general and leads by example. He has blossomed over the past two seasons into the all-Big 12 player we saw this season. He shined in the Big 12 Tournament, expect nothing less from him on a bigger stage.


There is no looser team at the tournament that La Salle. During out interview time in the locker room, they bounced around photographer Greg McFadden and then he turned the mic on them, to then turn it on themselves. Tyreek Durren and Tyrone Garland asked each other questions and the exchange was priceless. They could barely hold it together. We hope you enjoyed the exchange as much as we did at 10 p.m.

Head coach Dr. John Giannini (no kidding) said he likes that about his team, loves their loose nature and have fun attitude. He said he recruits it, looks for it in a player and encourages it with the team.

The best thing going for the Explorers could be that energy. They are tired, they won't admit it but they are. Legs trashed from a big game vs. Boise State to reach the final field of 64. The team said adrenaline will push them against K-State. Wildcats are hoping for tired legs, which Im guessing will be the case.

La Salle is a small team. K-State a big team. Both teams will try and exploit that about the other team. Will it work? Worked against Boise State but they were small lineup too.

Energy should be high - adrenaline maybe too?