Four Years of Covering the ‘Cats

15 May

Bill Snyder Family Stadium – “The Bill.” Bramlage Coliseum – “Octagon of Doom.”

Over four years as a Kansas State student, four years covering football and basketball, I spent an awesome amount of time in those places. They will always be in my heart. I learned there. I made mistakes there. I had success there. I grew up there, in a way.

I’m going to spare you the 2,200 words I came away with when I started trying to summarize my experiences as a sports writer. Instead, I will just list some of the moments that stick most vividly in my mind. Some of them are based on games. Most of them are based on great people and my interactions with them.

- The basketball team defeating Kansas in Bramlage on Big Monday, which was also Valentine’s Day. Students stormed the court. It was this reckless, joyous pandemonium, and it was wonderful to witness – even if my computer was in danger from students leaping over press row to get onto the floor.

- Willie the Wildcat leading the “K … S … U … Wildcats!” cheer from on top of the press box on Senior Night this past season, as Kansas State sealed a Big 12 championship with yet another victory over Texas. As I stood on the sideline and just looked at the crowd, looked at the players, looked at Willie holding up a sign that read “XII,” I knew that would be a moment to remember for years to come.

- Covering the press conference where Bruce Weber was introduced as the new head basketball coach of Kansas State. My first impression was that he was a terrific individual whose values matched perfectly those of the people in Manhattan. He talked some about schemes and getting players to stay, and it is easy to tell he is a great coach, a great motivator. I love how well he did in his first season with the Wildcats, and I hope that success continues in the future.

- Bob Knight slowly approaching the front of the interview room, without a word, after a post game press conference, as everyone sat in silence. A phone serving as a recorder on the podium rang repeatedly while players were talking, and though staff tried to turn it off, it continued to make noise. A team staff member was understandably peeved by the device, and afterward he angrily asked, “Whose phone is that?” The phone belonged to Bob Knight. The moment he left the room, everyone burst out laughing. Of course it was Bob Knight’s phone. Of course.

- Interviewing Frank Martin in Spanish. He took about half an hour to talk with me. I couldn’t believe it because I know how busy head coaches are, obviously. It really meant a lot to me that he took the time.

- Asking coach Bill Snyder about Jaime Mendez, a defensive back who played for Kansas State 20 years earlier, whose school interception record was being approached by current player Ty Zimmerman. Snyder told me the guy’s whole life story. He knew all about him – family, business, everything. If I remember correctly, Snyder said he had just talked to Mendez recently. That really impressed on me that when Snyder talks about family, he’s not just talking. The people who go through that program really do stay connected.

- Watching Collin Klein literally get tackled by the wrist and still not fumble. I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken with someone so mature, measured, talented, tough, humble, responsible, secure, personable … almost any positive adjective you want to use, that is Klein. He struck me as a kid after Snyder’s own heart, and the way they worked together was amazing to watch.

- Listening to Frank Martin talk with some reporters who also had young kids about controlling how much time they spend on video games and what kind of video games they are and are not allowed to play. I also remember one of Martin’s kids coming over and sitting on his lap before the game. It was loud and players were warming up on the court, so I don’t think too many people probably noticed, but that was the family side of him. It was very cool to see.

- Covering the first Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 30, 2010, from the open-air press box at Yankee Stadium.

- Talking with former Kansas State football players Eric Gallon and Brooks Barta for a story I wrote comparing the progress of the program in Snyder’s first four seasons at Kansas State with the resurgence in these last four years. Barta’s words to describe his experience with the team are some of the best I’ve ever heard, succinct yet powerful – “the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.” He used the phrase twice.

- Interviewing Denis Clemente in Spanish. He laughed when I asked if it would be okay to ask him questions in his native language so I could practice (one of my minors is Spanish), but he seemed so much more at ease than when he talked in English.

- Watching Braden Wilson just bulldoze defenders. I always thought he should get the ball more often because it was so great to watch. Snyder always said he would love to have 100 Braden Wilsons because he worked so hard.

- Shaking hands with Dick Vitale.

- Watching Tyler Lockett go the length of the field on returns. I go to talk with him after the game, and he is just the most humble, friendly kid. Kansas State really does have a lot of players who represent the program well.

- Sitting in the interview room in the Sprint Center after Kansas State played UNLV and listening through the wall – apparently the locker room is adjacent to the interview room – as Frank Martin screamed, “21 f****** turnovers! 21 F****** TURNOVERS!” He reamed those guys out. In all fairness, 21 turnovers is a lot. We could still hear Martin when Lon Kruger, then the coach of UNLV,  started his post game statement.

- Meeting ESPN reporters Jason King and Holly Rowe.

- Taking pictures with my dad, who inspired my love of sports early, by the court on Senior Night at Bramlage this year. The picture is now the background on my phone. My entire immediate family made that game, and it was special. Very special.

- Working with and shooting the breeze with wonderful fellow sports writers, including 42-year AP veteran Doug Tucker, Kansas State graduate and current AP sportswriter Dave Skretta, former Kansas State Collegian sports editor Justin Nutter and D. Scott Fritchen of GoPowercat.com. I worked with Doug, Dave and Justin, and all three were great mentors to me. As for D. Scott, I always enjoyed sitting next to him in Snyder’s press conferences and chatting about school, his daughter and of course K-State sports. Additionally, he has perfected the art of tweeting. One day I had someone compare me to him in terms of Twitter. I was extremely flattered. Long story short, I’ve met great people through covering Kansas State sports, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

Rodriguez transfers from Kansas State

22 Apr

 

Angel Rodriguez, Kansas State’s point guard from Puerto Rico, announced Monday that he is transferring from Kansas State after leading the Wildcats to a Big 12 championship this season.

Once a freshman with a tendency to dribble too much and drive too wildly into the paint, Rodriguez matured this season into an electric playmaker who ranked near the top of the league in assists-to-turnover ratio. He contributed 11.4 points per game and 5.2 assists per game. He drained 3s in big moments, sliced to the rim for layups and got to the foul line. Coaches voted him All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team.

In short, the sophomore looked ready to be a leader in 2013-2014, ready to help push Kansas State to make this year’s league title more than an anomaly.

Instead, Rodriguez is the third of three players who are leaving the program before their eligibility has expired.

“It is important that everyone understands that this was a really difficult decision,” Rodriguez said. “I have really enjoyed my time here and this decision was based entirely on my family and has nothing do with Kansas State, basketball or the coaching staff. It’s unfortunate after the year we just had, but I just feel right now this is the best thing for me and my family. Whether it is the right choice or not, family has and always will be first with me.”

His statement included more favorable comments about head coach Bruce Weber, who replaced former coach Frank Martin and had to re-recruit Rodriguez, among others, to stay after Martin left. Rodriguez said he made the right choice to stay, even though he is leaving now.

“It was the right decision to come here and I don’t regret it all,” Rodriguez said. “Coach Weber and his staff made the transition a lot easier than I ever thought it would be. He made me a better player and to play with more confidence. I never thought I would get this close to my teammates. The past few days have been difficult for me, just thinking how this decision would impact them. However, at the end of the day, I have do what I think is best for my mom and my brothers.”

A native of San Juan, Rodriguez played his first two years of college basketball more than 2,000 miles away from home. His mother came to a game this season, and it was the first time she had seen him play since before high school. While Weber is undoubtedly disappointed by the defection of his point guard of the future, he could hardly be critical in his explanation of Rodriguez’s reason for leaving.

“After multiple conversations, Angel feels an obligation to be closer to his family,” Weber stated. “His mother is raising his two younger brothers all by herself in San Juan and he just wants to be able to see them more often.”

The coach added that while Rodriguez played an integral part in the team’s championship run this season, his loss is an opportunity for someone else to emerge in a bigger role. The Wildcats now have three scholarships available for the coming year.

 

Diaz second player to transfer during offseason

8 Apr

Citing a desire to finish out his college basketball career closer to his home in Miami, sophomore Adrian Diaz announced he is transferring from Kansas State. While he very well may want to be nearer to family, he probably also wants to play more.

Diaz never quite found a niche in new coach Bruce Weber’s offense. Small, nimble Nino Williams – who got very little playing time under former coach Frank Martin – turned out to be a much better fit. Williams averaged right around double the minutes and double the rebounds of Diaz this season. A four-guard offense, which Kansas State moved to during the season, is generally a quick one, and Diaz just did not mesh well with the system.

Under Martin in 2011-2012, Diaz played in 23 games – including 12 conference games – and in 10 of them he got at least 10 minutes of court time. That season he had an 11-point game against Texas, and he snagged nine rebounds versus Oklahoma State. More or less, the nearly-7-feet-tall Diaz was regarded as a promising presence in the paint who would eventually succeed fellow big man Jordan Henriquez. Fans did not necessarily expect Diaz to take the league by storm this season, but it was generally thought he could progress from year before and have a meaningful impact.

However, he should not have a problem finding a place that wants him that is also near home. According to Diaz’s bio on kstatesports.com, UCF, Purdue, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, South Florida, FIU and North Florida all offered Diaz scholarships when he was coming out of high school, and he also attracted interest from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Syracuse. Obviously not all those opportunities will still be available, but if nothing else because of his height, he should get some looks.

Frank Martin practices ‘harder’ than Mike Rice practices?

3 Apr

In an ESPN article, former Kansas State basketball player Wally Judge is paraphrased as saying former Kansas State coach Frank Martin’s practices were harder than those led by Rutgers’ Mike Rice, who is currently in the spotlight for video clips that show him repeatedly screaming obscenities, dragging players around by their jerseys, kicking them and chucking basketballs at them.

Judge’s comparison between Rice’s practices and Martin’s practices has made many seriously question Martin. A quick search of “Wally Judge” on Twitter gives an idea of what conclusions are being draw from Judge’s comment.

“I wonder what happens at a Frank Martin practice if Wally Judge made the decision to transfer TO Rutgers FROM Kansas State…” –  @RobDauster

“So Wally Judge said Mike Rice’s practices weren’t as tough as the ones he had at KSU? Interesting” - @EffinA_Cotton

“Wally Judge saying practice at Kansas State was harder than that insanity at Rutgers tells me all I need to know about Frank. #Bully” - @TKoppe2

“How bad was Frank Martin that Wally Judge would rather play for Mike Rice… #wow” - @micrane1

In my opinion, though, this leap to judgment seems premature. Saying one practice is harder than another does not necessarily mean that one coach behaved worse than the other. If I tell you that honors physics was harder than intermediate microeconomics, that is a comment on the content of the classes, not necessarily on the behavior of the instructors. I have had challenging classes that were taught by great professors, so while the overall experience was tougher, it was not worse.

Of course, we would think that the context of Judge’s comment was a conversation about the coaches’ behavior. Since we do not know what he was asked, however, or even what he actually said (since he is paraphrased in the article), it is somewhat difficult to know whether he meant that Martin was just as abusive or whether he meant that Kansas State practices were more physically and mentally exhausting in general.

My gut reaction to Judge’s description of practice at Kansas State under Martin as ‘harder’ is that he means Martin’s practices were more physically demanding. Covering the Wildcats for four years, three with Martin as coach, I heard many stories that involved incredibly intense weight training, quality time on the stairs of Bramlage Coliseum and fearsome quantities of wind sprints. Obviously Martin swore profusely during practice – as he did during games, so give him credit for being the same person in front of the cameras and away from them – but then again, nearly all coaches are fluent in choice words.

While I did not have the opportunity to sit in on Martin’s practices, and while I am very aware that he is an old-school, intimidating, swear-word-spitting individual, so I do not know for sure that Martin never beaned a player with a basketball. Since nothing has ever been said about that sort of thing going on, however, drawing a parallel between Rice and Martin as if they are the same person is definitely jumping the gun.

Then again, this tweet from Kansas’ Russell Robinson that came after Rice’s firing – “A bunch of coaches are destroying those practice tapes as we speak….lol #mikerice” – makes you wonder how common Rice’s behavior is.

Positive fan response likely exemplifies why Orris decided to transfer

2 Apr
Orris gets a rare moment on the court during Kansas State's win over South Carolina Upstate in early December (AP Photo).

Orris gets a rare moment on the court during Kansas State’s win over South Carolina Upstate in early December (AP Photo).

Freshman point guard Michael Orris appears to have received nothing but positive messages after announcing his decision to transfer from Kansas State. From coach Bruce Weber’s supportive statement to dozens of well wishes directed to Orris on Twitter, no one seems to have a negative word to say to the young player about his choice to go elsewhere.

If Orris had any doubts on whether transferring was the right idea, that pleasant reaction might just confirm his decision.

Think about it. What contribution has a player made to a program if no one is upset when he leaves?

An athlete wants to make a difference on his team. If he achieves that, fans will be upset when his time with the team is over, whether he graduates, goes to the NBA or transfers to another school.

Remember the fan reaction to the departure of McDonald’s All-American Wally Judge? While many expressed that they hoped for the best for Judge, not all the farewells were so warm. People were disappointed and angry that he would not longer be playing for the Wildcats.

The obvious reason people were upset about Judge leaving and essentially indifferent about Orris leaving is that the latter got next to zero playing time this season. No one really got to see him play enough to know what the team might be missing from him in the future. (Obviously this does not apply to his coaches, teammates and friends, who I’m sure are sad to see him go.)

Undoubtedly, Orris wants to be somewhere he has a chance to get on the floor enough that people will notice when he is not there anymore. With sophomore Angel Rodriguez and junior Will Spradling in front of Orris on the depth chart at Kansas State, Orris apparently came to the conclusion that, in order to get playing time more quickly, he needs to play somewhere else. Here’s the statement Kansas State released on his behalf.

“I have really enjoyed my time at K-State. It is difficult to leave my friends, teammates and coaches, but I think this decision is the best for my future in basketball. I will always be appreciative of the opportunity given to me by Coach Weber to come here and the support by all those involved at K-State.”

Perhaps another part of the equation here is that Orris did not originally plan to come to Kansas State. He signed on to play for Weber when the coach was still at Illinois. Orris’ hometown of Crete is just about two hours away from the campus, equivalent to that between Manhattan, Kan., and the Kansas City area. It’s far enough that the family won’t be dropping in but close enough that a student can get home when he wants to. At Kansas State, Orris was more than 600 miles from home, which comes out to about a 10-hour drive.

Almost certainly, though, playing time is the main reason for Orris’ transfer. Weber basically acknowledged this in the short statement attributed to him in yesterday’s press release.

“Over the past week, he and I have had several discussions about his future and he thinks this gives him the best chance to be successful.  He is a quality young man who I have known for a long time, so I wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward with his life.”

As the basketball season winds down, Orris will be gearing up to start over somewhere new. If he finds the success he is looking for, people will react with a little more emotion the next time he leaves the basketball team.

Kansas State got a winner in Weber

10 Mar

After the Wildcats’ loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State on Saturday, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber figured the team had also lost its chance to finish tied for first in the Big 12 standings. All No. 4 Kansas had to do to keep the championship away from the Wildcats was beat unranked Baylor.

As it turned out, No. 9 Kansas State got a share of the title despite its loss, and Weber released this statement.

“Obviously, I’m elated for our players, staff and the entire K-State Nation that we were able to win a share of the Big 12 Championship.  I know how much time our team put in to getting to this point.

It’s not an easy thing to do and it’s not exactly the way we planned the day to go. However, to get a trophy and to get to hang a banner is special.  K-State hadn’t done that in men’s basketball in 36 years and I’m happy that our team was able to end that streak.

It’s been a gutsy season for our kids and I’m just really, really excited for our team and in particular our seniors.”

Easily lost in the excitement of the first basketball title for Kansas State since 1977 is the man who brought them to this point: Weber. Many Wildcat fans were skeptical when he was hired, but the players bought in early. Weber credits much of that to senior Rodney McGruder,who put faith in the coach after the shock of former coach Frank Martin’s departure to South Carolina.

“When that happened, a lot of stuff is going through your mind,” McGruder said. “You don’t know what to expect. When Frank first left, you didn’t know who your coach was going to be, but then the program went into Bruce Weber’s hands, and you saw the things that he accomplished at Illinois. You knew that big things could happen because I knew we were a pretty good team last year, but we had some plays that slipped away from us, so I knew that we could be good.

Bruce has proved that this year,” McGruder added.

The Wildcats’ success is a testament to the kind of coach Weber is. He has earned the trust of his players, not least when he got ejected for defending them in an exhibition game in Brazil. He has the respect of his assistants, who praise his work ethic and willingness to hit the recruiting trail. He has been awarded Coach of the Year awards before, so none of this should be surprising, and yet, it is.

No one saw this coming. Who could have known Weber would surpass Bob Huggins for the most first-year wins ever by a Kansas State coach? Who believed the Wildcats would win the Big 12 championship? Who thought Kansas State would be in position for a 3-seed, or, depending on how the Big 12 tournament goes, maybe even a 2-see in the NCAA tournament?

It is not a stretch to say that few outside the new basketball practice facility anticipated this.

The least people can do now is recognize him as Big 12 Coach of the Year. Weber and the Wildcats could not beat rival Kansas in the regular season, but with a share of the championship in hand and the Big 12 tournament quickly approaching, anything can happen, and Weber is a big part of that outlook.

Another underrated team, another Big 12 title

10 Mar

Is there an echo in here?

If the following story line sounds familiar, it is. You just heard it a few months ago.

“Picked to finish in the middle of the pack this year, the Wildcats surprised everyone by not just putting together a successful season but by claiming a share of the Big 12 title.”

The basketball team, predicted to finish fifth, at the very bottom of the top half of the league, won 25 games after an offseason coaching change that initially left many fans dissatisfied. Even though coach Bruce Weber and the Wildcats lost Saturday at No. 13 Oklahoma State, they still ended up with a piece of the championship when No. 4 Kansas suffered its worst loss in seven years to unranked Baylor in Waco.

The Kansas State football team, which ended the season 11-2, had been predicted to finish sixth. In retrospect, it is hard to believe people thought that the team would straggle into a position in the bottom half of the league. Instead, the Wildcats felled mighty Bob Stoops and ranked Oklahoma in normally unassailable Norman and went on to contend for the national championship.

Does it bother Kansas State players that media outlets often ignore them? A little, but it is nothing new, said junior guard Will Spradling, who played on Saturday despite a bruised sternum.

“We’re not getting the type of respect that we should, but that’s something K-State’s dealt with in every sport, every year,” Spradling said. “The football team didn’t get much respect this year until they got the No. 1 spot, and they still weren’t getting much respect at the end of the year.

“K-State’s just – athletically they’re kind of looked down upon, and teams lately have really been rejuvenating the program,” he added.

Outsiders might not have expected the basketball team to contend for a Big 12 title, but senior Martavious Irving knew the opportunity was there.

“When they won it, that’s the first thing I thought about,” Irving said. “We’re the next major sport at the school, so it’s pressure and we’re pretty good, even though we’ve got a new coaching staff, I was thinking, ‘Now it’s kind of like we’ve got to win it too.’”

Win it they did. It is the first Big 12 title in basketball for Kansas State since 1977. Weber was 20 years old.

As senior Rodney McGruder gazed up at the championship banner on the wall of the gym in the Wildcats’ new basketball practice facility, he remarked how long ago it was – more than a decade before he was even born. He interpreted the length of time since a Big 12 title as a chance for this year’s team to accomplish something great.

Even with the end of the regular season still a few weeks old, senior Jordan Henriquez looked at the chance to win a championship not just as a crowning accomplishment but as the beginning of a new tradition that his younger teammates can continue.

“If we win the Big 12 championship, I want those guys to keep it going,” Henriquez said. “If Kansas can win nine or 10 in a row, why can’t K-State?”

 

 

What He Built

2 Mar

SeniorsSenior Night sneaks up on you. It does. Believe me, I know.

Tuesday is the last night Kansas State fans will see Rodney McGruder, Martavious Irving and Jordan Henriquez play in Bramlage Coliseum. All have contributed greatly to this year’s team, but most of the focus – and understandably so – will be on McGruder.

In a time of transition, McGruder has been a constant. Looked to by his teammates as a leader, McGruder quickly bought into the system of first-year coach Bruce Weber and his staff. Weber is fully aware of how crucial McGruder’s cooperation was to the progress of this year’s team and the success the Wildcats (23-5, 12-3) have captured so far.

“When you’re the face of the program – which he is, I don’t think that’s saying something out of the realm of the truth – for him to buy in and really just right from the get-go accept what we believe in and what we do and not really rebel at all – if anything he just jumped on board, and that was so important,” Weber said. “You’ve got to appreciate that.”

Unlike some of the other (and younger) players, McGruder never wavered on the question of whether to stay at Kansas State after former coach Frank Martin’s departure to South Carolina. He had to see what could happen in Manhattan.

“I fought here for three years, and I think that would have been messed-up to leave what I built in this program,” McGruder said. “I wanted to finish what I started.”

Not surprisingly, all the other players followed suit. Now the team is tied with Kansas for first place in the Big 12 with three games remaining in the regular season. The senior class now has more wins (97) than any other class in Kansas State history, and Weber is tied for the most wins ever by a first-year Kansas State coach (23).

McGruder will hold all kinds of records at what will shortly be his alma mater, but that’s not what people will remember. They’ll remember the way he floats in the lane, the way he knocks down free throws, the way he drains 3s, the way he took ownership of a program going through a major transition. Mostly, if they read a little bit about him, they’ll remember the way he always had faith in what he and his teammates could accomplish at Kansas State, even after the departure of the popular, successful, fiery Martin.

“When that happened, a lot of stuff is going through your mind,” McGruder said. “You don’t know what to expect. When Frank first left, you didn’t know who your coach was going to be, but then the program went into Bruce Weber’s hands, and you saw the things that he accomplished at Illinois. You knew that big things could happen because I knew we were a pretty good team last year, but we had some plays that slipped away from us, so I knew that we could be good, and Bruce has proved that this year.”

Snyder selects another former player as new wide receivers coach

20 Feb

Andre Coleman participated in the greatest turnaround in college football history as a player at Kansas State from 1990-1993. Now, as the new wide receivers coach for the Wildcats, Coleman will be working alongside the mastermind of that turnaround, his former coach Bill Snyder, as Kansas State works to uphold the standard it set with 11 wins in 2012.

Coleman, an All-America selection as a senior, went on to have a five-year career in the NFL (Chargers, Seahawks, Steelers) and set eight Super Bowl records when he played in the big game with the San Diego Chargers in January of 1995.

For the past three seasons, Coleman worked as an assistant coach at Youngstown State, where the head coach is former Kansas State offensive lineman Eric Wolford. Coleman worked with tight ends his first year and with wide receivers in 2011 and 2012.

“We are pleased to have Andre join our staff,” Snyder stated in a press release this afternoon. “As a successful ex-player from our program he has a strong understanding and belief in the philosophy and intrinsic values we believe in.  Having worked with Eric Wolford, also an ex-Kansas State player, Andre has experience coaching in a program with a very similar approach to ours.  He is a caring person who works well with young men and fits in well with our coaching staff.”

In 2012, Coleman coached an usually young group of wide receivers (sophomores, freshmen and one junior) this past year and helped the team to a 7-4 record that included the school’s first victory against a BCS opponent, a 31-17 win at Pittsburgh.

Coleman replaces Michael Smith, another former Kansas State player who had coached at his alma mater for more than a decade before taking a job at Arkansas in January.

 

No. 10 Kansas State handles Baylor 81-61

16 Feb

Coming off a blowout loss in Allen Fieldhouse against a motivated Kansas team that had lost three straight games for the first time since 2007, No. 10 Kansas State played some of its best basketball all season in an 81-61 victory over Baylor in Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats sizzled from beyond the arc, hitting 11 3s, tied for the most this season. The last time that happened? Against Lamar back in November. Shane Southwell hit six of those 3s, shooting 66.7 percent from long range.

As good as Southwell was, his performance did not top the list. That distinction went to Angel Rodriguez, who scored 22 points and dished 10 assists. Jordan Henriquez also had a huge game, chipping in 10 points and 10 rebounds and looking almost completely recovered from the “hands of stone” syndrome that had plagued him in recent games.

The Wildcats’ defensive effort also deserved mention. Kansas State forced 19 turnovers and scored 22 points off the Bears’ mistakes. Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, who was leading the Big 12 in scoring with 18.9 points per game, came away with just seven points.

Baylor fought to within 43-41 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining, but Kansas State slammed the door shut. 

“We got into the huddle and the first thing that we said was that they punched us, and we have to punch them back,” Rodriguez said. “We responded as a team and started getting shout outs and made positive plays on the offensive end, which got us going. It is hard when you punch somebody and they punch you back. It brings you down, and we brought them down, and it was hard for them to make a run on us.”

Kansas State stayed vigilant offensively and got stops. After mediocre performances on both ends early in the week, the Wildcats rebounded in impressive fashion on Saturday.

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