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…” –
“So Wally Judge said Mike Rice’s practices weren’t as tough as the ones he had at KSU? Interesting” –
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.