Feb. 9, 2014
Press Conference Quotes
Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014
OSU sophomore Marcus Smart
"I just wanted to come out here and say, first, that I want to apologize to the fan, whose name is Jeff Orr. I want to apologize to my teammates, my coaching staff, Coach Ford, my family and Oklahoma State University. This is not how I (conduct) myself. This is not how the program is run, and this is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. This is something I have to learn from. I have to take the consequences that are coming with it. I take full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all on me. I just want to say I truly apologize to those who are very important to me. I feel like I let my teammates down. These guys mean a lot to me, and not being able to be out there with them will hit me in my heart. I know there are people, especially little kids, who look up to me, so I truly apologize. This is not me, and I really do apologize for it. I take full responsibility and the consequences that come with it."
OSU head coach Travis Ford
"I've been around Marcus Smart on a daily basis for two years, and last night was not one of his finer moments, no question. However, Marcus Smart has had many great moments -- as a person and as a player. I know Marcus Smart's heart. I know how he is hurting. I know how regretful he is right now, and those are the things that make me love Marcus Smart. Marcus made a big mistake last night and he knows that. We talked about it extensively. He knows we obviously do not condone things of that matter. He has owned up to it, but I love Marcus Smart for the person he is. I know this is going to make him a better person.
"Marcus is a young man who has been in the public eye for quite a bit. I think we would all agree for the highest percentage of the time, he has conducted himself as a tremendous young man, but he made a mistakem -- a mistake he is going to pay for. Not just a three-game suspension -- he knows there are other areas -- but I am extremely confident, because I do know Marcus Smart, that when he comes back, ready to go, he is going to gain back the trust of those from which he has lost trust and he is going to try to improve himself every single day. He has my full, unwavering support. I do know his heart, I know how he is feeling and I know that he knows he made a mistake.
"One day, someone in the NBA is going to get an incredible player and an incredible person, who has learned a lot of lessons that will continue to carry over, making him a better player and a better person. I ask all the Oklahoma State Cowboy fans and fans around the country to accept his apology and understand Marcus is a young man who made a serious mistake, but he is a young man with a great heart. He has proven to us many times what a great person he is. I also ask they help him learn from this, because I truly think he has learned a valuable lesson, which will make him a better person down the road."
On Marcus not playing with the same joy and freedom he did last season
"Marcus puts a lot of pressure on himself at times. It's something we have been addressing for a while. On many occasions he has handled it well, and on a few occasions he hasn't. I never fault his intention to be at his best every time he steps on the court. At times, it may not come across as his best, but Marcus does a pretty good job of analyzing himself and the areas in which he can improve."
On whether there is a lesson to be learned for fans
"I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this situation on both sides, no question. Fans are now closer to the court than they have ever been before, but we aren't going to put blame on anyone else. We know Marcus made a mistake. Marcus knows it and feels absolutely terrible about it. There's no question there is a lot to be learned from this."
On whether the suspension was self-imposed by OSU
"It was a collective decision. Obviously the Big 12 released a statement, and they made the statement, so we respect that decision. I know Coach Holder was going back and forth with the Big 12 this morning."
On worrying about the fans storming the court while Marcus was still out there
"As far as the fans storming the court, I didn't think much about it, because I was still trying to figure out a way to win the game. As soon as I saw them coming out like they did, it was my first thought -- not just (the safety of) Marcus, but our whole team. We had security, and Texas Tech's security did a great job of helping our players. We take security with us, and they did a great job. Leon Jones did a great job. They did a great job getting me off the court, too. I was in the middle of it. I thank Texas Tech and their people for doing that. They were very good."
On if the suspension was enforced due to the incident or the reaction
"He was obviously very upset, but I think it was more toward the actual action. It was the whole scenario. I got him over to me pretty quickly, though. I explained to him that we were still trying to win the game, and he explained to me what happened, very heatedly. As far as what had happened, he was concerned. As far as what I told my coaches, I substituted for him, and he was not kicked out of the game. I tried to move on to try to help the rest of the guys who were in the game, trying to figure out what to do next. The whole situation has been discussed, really."
On his emotions with the situation
"Well, I feel bad. First, you hate that it happened. You would hate for it to happen in any game, but I've been around long enough and have seen so many different situations. The closer you are to it, and with the more direct knowledge you have with who the person is, I know what Marcus stands for because he gets painted with a certain brush. To an extent, I understand that. It was a mistake, and I get that, but when you start weighing all the positive things that he stands for, and all the positive things that he has done, it does not make up for last night. That's not what we're saying, whatsoever. It does not make last night's wrong a right, but when you're around somebody every day like I am, you know that he is a 'no, sir' and a 'yes, sir' type of guy who will do whatever you ask him to do and tries to uplift his teammates whenever he can, even when he's going through difficult situations. He's done a lot of good. I get a little disappointed that some of that will get lost in all of this, but I told him that he can get that back by how he conducts himself, learning from this and moving forward. It doesn't make last night a right, or make it better, but I know him. It's no different than when I maybe see something happen with another team, maybe a pro or a college team, and see something like this happen, and we all rush to that judgment. You can paint a brush that that is what he is, and we all do that, but I know Marcus Smart. I know his family. I know what he stands for, and I know he made a mistake. It does not keep me from loving Marcus Smart or supporting him. Part of our job is to help him learn from this so it doesn't happen again."
On coaching players with such emotion for the game
"It's a fine line. You love players who are competitive, as a coach. You love it when you don't have to push that button to motivate a guy with a competitive nature, the will to win and the desire to be the best. It's always important not to let that great strength become a weakness sometimes. It's very important to channel that competitiveness in the right manner and not let it get the best of you. It's a fine line. We expect a lot out of these young men. We hold them to an extremely high standard, but we've got to learn that you can't cross that line and to channel that competitiveness. We have to learn from every opportunity that we have."
On his team playing with an edge but within the whistles
"It's a fine line. You love players who are competitive, as a coach. You love it when you don't have to push that button for those motivated guys. It's always important not to let that great strength come with a weakness. It's very important to channel that competitiveness in the right manner and not let it get the best of you. But it's a fine line, we expect a lot out of these young players, we hold them to extremely high standards. We have to learn that you can't cross that line, to channel that competitiveness and learn from every opportunity that you can."
On changing practice to fit a hostile road environment
"I don't know to that extent. We talked to our players a lot, especially lately about playing within the lines and not worrying about fans or referees. Worry about the things that you can control and our team needs to be a better job of that. We play to the crowd with the way we do things when we go to hostile environments, but I don't think to that extent but maybe go a step further about talking to them about situations that could arise like that. I've spent an enormous amount of time talking about how to handle a situation like that. I haven't spent an enormous amount of time talking about that particular situation. But maybe because of fans being closer, that becomes a part of the game and we see it all the time."
On the team moving forward
"We have opportunities for players to step up, opportunities for our team to grow right now. Obviously, Marcus has been a major identity of our basketball team, no question about it. This is going to give them an opportunity for some of them who haven't been playing quite as much to pick up the slack while he is out. In any situation, we try to look for the positives and this will be great for him to sit back, watch, evaluate our team, spend a lot of time with our team and get them prepared to play. When it's his time, I'm expecting him to come back better than ever. I'm expecting him to come back and help this basketball team in every way that he possibly he can. While he's out, it's a great opportunity for this team to play around each other and some guys who haven't played as much to get an opportunity to prove themselves a little bit. I told my staff this morning, you're not going to see heads dropped. You're not going to see anybody feeling sorry for themselves, that's not my personality. We are looking forward to getting better as a basketball team. We will be looking forward to getting Marcus back in three games. But while he's out, I expect our team to perform and we'll get them ready to do so."
On the fans
"I understand their disappointment. I get that. Nobody feels it as much as we do every day, the team and the coaching staff. No one likes losing. If you're a Cowboy fan, I would tell them to rally around this team and give this team your support. Give this team your support. No matter how you feel about a certain thing, if you're a Cowboy fan, give them your support and rally around this team. Help this team and rally around them as much as possible. That would be my message."
On relieving the burden on Marcus
"I don't think so. Marcus is going to have a great future ahead of him. Marcus is going to have a great future and a long career in the NBA. We talked to him for a long time and told him to just enjoy all the reasons you came back. It would only be natural for anyone sometimes to sit back and second guess, way before the season even started and feel the weight to an extent. That's a natural reaction for anyone. For an extreme majority of the time, he's handled it extremely well."
OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder
"For those of you who don't know me, I'll introduce myself. My name is Mike Holder. I've been here 47 years as a student, as a golf coach and as Athletic Director. It's my privilege today to be up here and address this situation. I think the message for all of us, especially those of us who are Cowboys, members of our athletic team, our coaches, all our fans, is some things are more important than winning or losing. Your respect that you have, your self-image, all of it that takes a lifetime to build, can be gone within a blink of an eye. Playing competitive athletics is a privilege. It's not a right, it's a privilege. That privilege can be taken away from you. There are things that matter a whole lot more than winning and losing. I value playing by the rules and being a good sport. Good sportsmanship encompasses a lot. That's a big word.
"For the most part, of the 47 years that I've been here, I've been very proud of the way our athletes and coaches have represented our institution. Last night wasn't our finest hour. It wasn't Marcus Smart's finest hour. How we deal with that is a whole lot more important, in my opinion, than what happened. I think what happened last night will not define Marcus and will not define us. It's what's going to happen going forward that is really the crucial piece of the puzzle. As bad as it was, I'm still proud that (Marcus) is a Cowboy. I know we are blessed that he chose to come here. I've marveled at a lot of the things he has done. I admire a lot of the things that he stands for. I look forward to seeing how he deals with this adversity. I think we'll all be impressed with it, but talk is cheap. The proof is in the pudding. My job is to stand by him, give him the support that he needs and make sure he knows that we love him and care about him. This isn't the end-all, be-all. We've got many more years of association together and there is going to be a lot more pride, rather than regret, that we came together. That being said, if anybody has any questions, I would be happy to answer them."
On his discussion with Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby
"I felt, and Bob agreed, that it was important to have a quick resolution and deal with it as quickly as possible. That way, it becomes part of our past and hopefully not part of our future and we can get our team back to focusing on playing basketball. We talked about it. It's a little difficult because he's at the Olympic Games, so it wasn't that easy to get a hold of him this morning. Between Commissioner Bowlsby, Tim Weiser and John Underwood at the Big 12 office, we came up with what we felt like was a fair resolution to the problem, dealt with it and called this news conference to get everybody up to speed."
On if he's been in contact with Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt
"Kirby reached out to me this afternoon. They are doing their own investigation and I applaud him for that. It comes upon all of our athletes and all of us to understand the role that spectators could play in a contest, but that only happens if we allow it. It's a choice. For everyone out there, I say, don't allow that to happen. Ignore what they say, ignore what they do. It has nothing to do with what is happening out there on the court, unless you invite them in. In this case, not only was it part of last night's game, it's going to be a part of our future too because of the repercussions. It's a good lesson for all of us."
On the importance of Marcus Smart making a statement so soon after the incident
"How could you not be proud of him? Like I said, I'm honored to stand up here by him. I'll stand beside him. He's got a big valentine beating in his chest. He stands for a lot of the great things about college athletics. He made a mistake, but let's not crucify him for it. It's an opportunity to learn. What are you supposed to do in college? That's where we're supposed to learn and grow as individuals. That's where we're supposed to make a difference in young people's lives. That's where dreams are supposed to come true. That doesn't mean that every day is bright and shiny. It's about learning how to deal with adversity and hardship. This is a great opportunity for Marcus to learn, for me to learn, for Coach Ford, for every member of the team, for every other athlete and every other coach at our institution, and for sure our fan base. Let's be respectful when visiting teams come into our stadiums and our venues. Let's be good sports across the board. Not just as athletes, but as coaches and fans. It's a great opportunity."
On preparing student athletes for what they will experience when they play in hostile environments
"We've got a lot of great people here. My experience has been that no matter how much you try to prepare an athlete for what's about to happen, there is nothing like experience. I coached golf for a long time and I tried to tell them what it was going to be like when they stepped on the first tee at the national championship, but no amount of words could ever prepare them for what was about to happen. What you had to say always mattered a lot more after the event was over. `Now I understand what you were talking about.' I think this will open him up to taking a little bit more counseling or taking a little bit more advice. As I said, some of his greatest strengths are his greatest weaknesses, what's made him a great athlete and a great competitor can also be a weakness. Sometimes he doesn't listen as well as he should. I'm 65 years old, and I could be criticized for the same thing. My wife tells me that all the time. We never stop learning and never stop growing as people. Going back to what I said originally, a university is a great place to grow and mature, to grow from a young man to a man. Hopefully, we're doing a good job of that here at Oklahoma State, and as I said, this is a great opportunity for all of us."
On his thoughts during the incident
"I remember when I was coaching a different sport and I wasn't the athletic director, I had the luxury of letting someone else deal with it. I fully comprehended that I was going to be the one that was going to have the responsibility, along with Coach Ford and Marcus, to deal with it. I didn't sleep very much last night. It was a restless night. I thought about what was going to happen. When I got up this morning, the first thing I did was reach out to the Big 12 Conference. That got us to this point. Unfortunately, being an athletic director in situations like this doesn't come with a manual to read about it and study up on it. Your experience is always the best teacher, so we're all getting a lot of experience and great life lessons. I think all of us will benefit from it, especially Marcus."