Frank Martin for Big 12 Coach of the Year

1 Mar

One of my favorite moments on the pre-game video in Bramlage Coliseum is when the dramatic music comes to a crescendo as the film shows a furious Frank Martin being restrained on the sideline by his assistant coaches, then freezes the frame and flashes the label “BIG 12 COACH OF THE YEAR.”

The Wildcats accomplished a lot last season, which certainly helped in Martin achieving that distinction. This season, K-State has had quite a few hurdles: seniors being suspended, other players leaving the team entirely, and a 1-4 start in conference play.

Daily improvement, however, is one of the mantras of Martin, and even such roadblocks as the ones encountered in the last several months could not permanently detour the Wildcats.

The head coach made a change to his coaching, paying more attention to his upperclassmen instead of assuming they could improve and lead on their own, and letting those older players mentor the younger ones. Martin also changed the offense, trading in his signature smashmouth philosophy for more open perimeter play.

Now, with one game remaining in the regular season, the Wildcats have won their last five games, including two against top 10 opponents Kansas and Texas.

That’s a pretty amazing turnaround, considering all the circumstances. Is that a credit to the coach or the players? Assistant coach Brad Underwood says both. Martin bought into the new offense that Underwood recommended and convinced his players to believe in it as well; the players followed their coaches’ lead, scrapping the system they’d been practicing for months and learning something different.

At this point, who is a better candidate for Big 12 Coach of the Year than the man who won it last season? Having been around this team since November, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat in this conference honor.

 

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