Sunday Takeaways from Saturday’s KSU/Texas A&M Game

5 Feb

The Wildcats pulled to .500 in conference play with a 64-53 win in Bramlage Coliseum over Texas A&M yesterday. Kansas State needed that win for confidence going forward. Reflecting on that game, there are several reasons the Wildcats should have that confidence now.

1. Angel Rodriguez can take over a game.

He had one sequence in particular that I found truly impressive. First, He zipped into the lane and drew a shooting foul, then made both his free throws. Immediately after, he caused a Texas A&M turnover while pressuring the inbounds pass. In that possession, he attempted a 3-pointer. He missed, but he got his own rebound and took another shot. That one went in. Then on the next possession, he again drove to the basket, and that time he made the basket and got the foul. Again, he made his free throw.

Basically, this kid was all over the place. Early on, I was wary of comparisons between him and Denis Clemente. Rodriguez is young. He plays ahead of himself sometimes. When he throws up those crazy circus shots, many times I think, ‘That is an awful shot,’ and then the ball usually finds the hoop anyway. He turns the ball over a little more than he should, and he has to watch his fouls.

All that said, when he gets a fire under him, watch out. If he plays assertively and keeps his fouls under control so he can stay in a game, he is as dangerous a player as the Wildcats have. He will be huge for them in the years to come.

2. Will Spradling rediscovered his shot.

The sophomore point guard has been in the gym working on his shot for awhile now. He had been struggling to make baskets in the last few games, but a 4-for-5 effort yesterday from beyond the arc against Texas A&M pretty much sealed the deal that his slump is behind him. Coach Frank Martin told him he just had to keep shooting. If he does not shoot an open shot when he has the opportunity, he hurts his team, Martin said. Yesterday Spradling’s persistence and work on that shot paid off. He led the Wildcats with 19 points.

3. The team still believes.

Every now and then, I listen to sports talk radio. The other day, I heard guys discuss whether maybe the fiery Martin is too hard on his team sometimes. Maybe he pushed the guys too hard and lost them, one suggested after recent Big 12 losses. I don’t think so.

From the way Spradling and Rodriguez looked admiringly at Martin and grinned as he made wisecracks during the press conference yesterday, I would venture to say that is not the case at all. Those guys respect Martin – though they all call him Frank – and believe in what he is doing. As long as there is mutual respect between coaches and players, you can never count a team out of a season.  The Wildcats will be fine.

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