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Katz and Greenberg podcasts with Frank Martin and Tim Jankovich worth a listen

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Kansas State head coach Frank Martin gives a hug and encouraging words to Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor after the Jayhawks' 59-53 win on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas State head coach Frank Martin gives a hug and encouraging words to Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor after the Jayhawks' 59-53 win on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

The bags under my eyes come courtesy of ESPN radio partners Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, whose show is called "Courtside with Katz and Coach G." I met Greenberg once, more than 25 years ago when he was coaching at Long Beach State, Katz once, about 10 years ago. Neither one would know me if we shared an elevator.

Yet, if I never chat with either one again, I guarantee I’ll spend a ton of time with them. Their college basketball podcast is archived weekly and it’s tremendous because they let their guests talk, don’t feel the need to dumb down the show and they’re such good listeners their guests really open up to them.

I found their archived podcasts Tuesday night and listened well into this morning. Two in particular captured my interest because they had connections to coaches who used to be in the Big 12, the first with South Carolina coach Frank Martin, formerly of Kansas State, the other with Tim Jankovich, a former Bill Self assistant now in charge of the SMU program. Both coaches will earn good seeds on Selection Sunday.

Martin, the son of Cuban immigrants, joined Katz and Greenberg on Nov. 26, a couple of days after his team defeated Syracuse by double digits. That game took place a day after the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Martin’s and his wife’s families were in Brooklyn for the Syracuse game and he shared some of what they discussed. Martin didn’t hold back anything in airing his disdain for Castro.

“Being around my family and my wife’s family, who are also immigrants, like we all are in this country, being around them and then finding out about the Castro news and then being able to reflect, we reflect out of joy. We don’t reflect out of sorrow. Our joy is that we live in this country,” Martin told Katz and Greenberg. “Yes, we have our flaws here. Yes, we have our issues here. Yes, there are a lot of things that need to get better. But we’re all allowed to express ourselves so we can make it better. And we all need to learn how to co-exist with each other so we can make it better.”

Katz and Greenberg stayed out of the way. Smart move.

“We’ve made progress,” Martin continued. “It’s nowhere near where it needs to be, but when I hear people in this country applaud Castro, it makes me sick to my stomach. You can argue that him and Hitler are the two biggest tyrants that we’ve had in the last hundred years. What he has done to demean people, to prevent people, think about this, Seth: Everyone’s talking about he’s reformed education. No. He chooses who he educates so that they can help him remain in power, so they can help his government remain strong. The rest of the people, he wants to keep them ignorant and when I say ignorant I don’t mean uneducated, I mean not knowing how the rest of the world has it, not knowing how people have rights in other places because if people did know ,then you’d have situations like he had in the 70s, when he had uprising after uprising to (overtake) him because people did know what was going on and then you know what he did?”

Katz and Greenberg let him answer his own question: “He created the Mariel Boatlift (a mass emigration of Cubans from Mariel Harbor to the United States that lasted six months in 1980) himself because his jails were overcrowded because anyone who said anything got put in the firing line or put in jail, so he said, ‘OK, I’m going to let you take an uncle on this boat and I’m going to charge you so much but you have to take these three other people.’ Those three other people were people who were in jail. And that’s kind of the way he emptied his jails. So for anyone to applaud anything that man stood for, that disgusts me. For my family, (his death) was a moment of joy. It was a moment of joy because we lost half our family. My grandmother lost her husband. My grandmother went from being a housewife to working 12, 14 hours a day in a factory. But you know what, this country gave us a chance. They didn’t judge us that we didn’t speak English. We didn’t get judged because our skin color’s a little different than whatever people want to look at. We were given an opportunity to live with freedoms that had been taken away from my family and now my uncle’s gone from carrying boxes at the Port of Miami as a senior in high school to being one of the most influential people in the Port of Miami.

“My mother on her own fought and raised my sister and me and now here I am a guy who got a public education for free by the way at the high school level, paid his own way through college, now I’m leading a basketball team for the University of South Carolina. So we reflected in a great, great way.”

Martin went on to talk of memories of as a 6-year-old watching with his grandmother the 1972 Olympics, in which boxer Teofilo Stevenson won a gold medal and she cried tears of joy and then sorrow.

“The one that never left me was watching her cry when the Russians cheated the United States in 1972 because because of the Russians, Castro became powerful,” Martin said. “Cuba would not become liberated because of his alliance with Russia. My grandmother never forgave the Russians for that and I’ll never forget her crying. I had no understanding why at the time. It resonates strongly with me now.”

Semi Ojeleye (Associated Press photo)

Semi Ojeleye (Associated Press photo) by Tom Keegan

Jankovich’s Monday appearance wasn’t as heavy, just sound basketball talk about a coach who has a 27-4 record and relies heavily on transfers, including Semi Ojeleye from Ottawa High and for two years Duke. Ojeleye averages 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and shoots .431 from 3-point territory for SMU. As a reserve at Duke, Ojeleye totaled 143 minutes in two seasons.

“He grew up in Kansas and I’m from Kansas and our associate head coach is from Kansas, so both of us pay a lot of attention to our home state of course and we watched him in high school and thought he was a really, really good talent,” Jankovich said of Ojeleye, recruited by Kansas both out of high school and after transferring from Duke. “Given what happened at Duke, we did not know he would be nearly as good as he is. We thought he was a good player. We thought he could be a real good player, but to be doing what he’s done in his first year for us has been amazing. And I do want to say he’s as hard a woker putting his time in away from the court, putting his own time in as anyone I’ve ever coached. If ever someone should be deservedly rewarded, it’s him. He’s like a machine. He just never stops.”

On some podcasts, the hosts never stop talking. I like how well Katz and Greenberg listen.

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