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March 16, 2012PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Yes, Angel Rodriguez heard it. Yes, he was offended. No, he isn't holding a grudge.
When members of the Southern Miss pep band distastefully chanted "where's your green card" at Kansas State's Puerto Rico-born freshman during Thursday's NCAA Tournament opener at the CONSOL Energy Center, he was taken aback, And not just for the obvious reasons.
"Puerto Rico is actually a (territory) of the United States, so we don't even need any type of papers," he said on Friday. "There are ignorant people out there."
Following the game, members of Southern Miss' athletic administration came to the Wildcats' Pittsburgh hotel to apologize to Rodriguez and K-State coach Frank Martin for the derogatory remarks of the band. University president Martha Saunders issued her own apology published on the school's website.
“We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today’s game," Saunders wrote in a news release. "The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident."
On Friday, Rodriguez said he accepted the school's apology and will quickly move past the incident.
"I moved on already," he said. "I have a game to focus on now."
Martin echoed his point guard's sentiment.
"It's unfortunate that there are always two or three people who are ignorant, and I don't pay attention to ignorance," he said. "Their administration has been awesome.
"Their athletic director and their band director showed up at our hotel and looked Angel dead in the eye and as graduates and representatives of Southern Mississippi, you can see the pain they were in because of the actions of others. They didn't just didn't issue a statement, a politically correct statement, they came in and handled it like classy adults and that's to be commended."
Apparently, the Orange head coach took issue to something Miller had said during the broadcast of Syracuse's Thursday game with UNC-Asheville. The resulting conversation/lecture was uncomfortable, but the jab was obvious.
NCAA Moderator: We're joined by Coach Jim Boeheim. Do you want to make an opening statement?
Boeheim: Well, yeah, just one. I just wanted to tell Reggie (Miller) that we do not play man-to-man defense, just in case you didn't realize that.
Miller: I do know that.
Boeheim: It reminded me, if I never went to an NBA game, you missed your first two jumpers.
Miller: That would never happen.
Boeheim: But if it did, me saying, 'Why didn't that guy just drive? Oh, because he can't.' Now I'll take questions.
Before meeting Henriquez, a player of Panamanian decent, he assumed the new recruit on his radar used Spanish to communicate with relatives. Of course, Martin broke the ice with his natural language.
"I started rambling off in Spanish," he said. "I could tell by the way he was looking at me that something wasn't right. When I finished those great three of four sentences, he looked at me and said, 'Coach, I don't speak Spanish.' You can imagine how big I felt."
"We actually played them twice and they beat us by 15 or 20 both times," Lawrence said. "They are a great fast-break team and they are always attacking. They're best when they're in transition."