What happened in Wichita?

10 Dec

Looking at the box score from Thursday night’s game against West Virginia, you can see there are not that many statistical differences between the Mountaineers and the Wildcats. Since the game did go into two overtimes, that’s not shocking. What is slightly more surprising is that Kansas State led West Virginia in categories that one might think would give the Wildcats an edge: fast break (13 to 4), points off turnovers (21 to 13), points in the paint (44 to 38). The teams were tied 17 times during the game, and the lead changed nine times. In the beginning, though, Kansas State got up 9-2. What were the factors that kept the Wildcats from closing the door – or kept it from closing on them?

  • Questionable defense – Last I heard from Martin, he was much happier with the team’s defense than he was with its offense. On Thursday, though, it looked like there was confusion. From where I sat, it seemed that guys were out of position and because of that did not rotate over to help teammates when their defenders beat them going to the rim. I think what Martin said after the game probably backs up this assessment:

“We were pathetic on defense in the second half. We were just bad. All we did was foul, reach and gamble. The physical nature of the game had us undisciplined, and we did not take care of our assignments. We allowed the ball to get to areas on the floor, and the way we play if we allow the ball to get to certain areas, it causes problems for us.”

  • Grit – The Wildcats played one heck of a game. Fans in the stands thought it was a long, drawn-out contest; can you imagine how the players and coaches felt? It was a grinding, back-and-forth, foul-laden battle that lived up to the tremendous hype it received beforehand. Really, I thought Kansas State – especially as such a young team – played with considerable physical and mental toughness. It was a difficult early-season game, and the team weathered it fairly well. Martin does not believe in moral victories, however. While it might seem harsh, that is a good mindset to have, and the deeper the team gets into this season and the further these young guys go along in life, the more important it will be to remember that.

“Whether you win or lose, you will end up learning from the experience,” Martin said, “but we have to go to practice tomorrow. We will watch film tomorrow. We will do everything we can do until they tell us they cannot play anymore. I do not find positives in hard fought games. The only positive that I like, is the only stat that I like: our team has one more point than the other team. When that happens, I go home, and I am in a decent mood for about 12 hours.  When that does not happen, I am a miserable human being. Unfortunately, we did not get that done today. I am proud of our fight, like I told them in the locker room, but it was not good enough. We have to get better.”

  • Stale offense – While the players moved more without the ball than the had in the past several games – at least it looked like this was the case, especially since I didn’t hear Martin yell, “MOVE!” as I have heard before – it still was not enough. Martin wants these guys passing and cutting, and there is too much standing around. That has been his assessment of the last several ball games, and again, while it looked better on Thursday, there is still much work to be done. That game showed it.

 

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