Tag Archives: Angel Rodriguez Kansas State

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.


Calling on Angel

17 Feb

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Against the University of Kansas, freshman guard Angel Rodriguez played his worst game. Not just the worst game of his career, but the worst game of his whole entire life. In what was his ninth straight start of the season, he did not score, and he turned the ball over seven times.

Coach Frank Martin thinks of a young Jacob Pullen and recalls a scenario that was not so different. But few others do.

“We all remember the final product with Jacob,” Martin said. “There were a lot of bumps early, but the reason I never quit on him was because he never quit on himself, and that’s what you look for as a coach.”

Playing against the likes of Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor, Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page and many other talented guards in the Big 12 conference, Rodriguez has learned the college game with a slim margin for error.

“There’s no forgiveness in this league,” Martin said. “It makes you grow up.”

Since Rodriguez cracked the starting lineup a few weeks ago, he is averaging 8.8 points and a team-leading 3.3 assists in 21.4 minutes per game. In four of the nine games he started, he scored in double figures. At times, his willingness to go aggressively to the basket breathed life into the Wildcats, and in other situations, it hurt them.

As Rodriguez sat along at the media table on Thursday night, his brown eyes still looked haunted at the mention of that most recent game. He watched it over and over and over in the film room, and when he talked about it to reporters, it seemed as if he reviewed the plays in his head yet again, trying to pinpoint what had gone wrong. In the second half against Kansas, he played much better than he did in the first 20 minutes. Trying to tell him that, though, is a lost cause.

“To be honest, when I think about the KU, all I think is negative stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t get any positive thing about that game, so all I’m taking is the negative stuff and trying to make it into a positive for the next couple games we have.”

The way Rodriguez continued to work to improve in practice after his uncharacteristic performance against Kansas encouraged his coach.

“He isn’t going away,” Martin said. “Like all freshman, he’s had some moments where he’s had some mental lapses and he’s gotten frustrated and hasn’t handled things, but that’s between he and I. There’s no quit in him. That’s not who he is. He didn’t come out here to quit after a bad day or a bad game. He’s going to keep fighting.”

Putting on a Show: The Exhibition Game

6 Nov

I’ll later be transcribing Frank Martin’s postgame press conference as well as the comments of Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving. For now, though, here are the quick hits of what to take away from Kansas State’s 90-60 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State.

Most of the veterans look solid. This may seem ironic with the announcement that senior Jamar Samuels is suspended for the first three games, but Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Will Spradling played well. All scored in double figures, and Henriquez even recorded a double-double. More than numbers, though, they looked like they understood what was going on, and they played in a fairly disciplined way most of the time. To me, it’s incredible to see how far these guys – Henriquez and Irving in particular – have come in just a few years. They seem more comfortable talking to the media, just more at ease in general. I think that sense of confidence will really play into their leadership this season. They know they have earned their spots, and they can help the younger guys learn how to do that too.

Several of the new guys have potential to contribute. The main ones I’m talking about here are Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson. Rodriguez has speed and a sweet shot. Plus, as Martin said, Rodriguez understands the game and what it means to be a point guard. It seems that he has acquired a decent understanding of the offense. Gipson has a huge body, but he can catch the ball, and he knows how to temper the strength of his shot when he is close to the rim. In addition to that soft touch, he has some nice back-to-the-basket moves. He also does not hesitate. When he gets the ball at the basket, he goes up instead of dribbling once out of compulsion. It’s good to see. Adrian Diaz is another one to keep an eye on. His response to missed shots and such reminds me of Jordan Henriquez. He looks so regretful after a missed opportunity, but he doesn’t seem to let that linger. Also, Diaz seems fairly agile despite his size, and Martin said he is more developed offensively than Henriquez was when he came in as a freshman. Obviously, all the new guys need work. They could be very good, though, and I think Rodriguez and Gipson – and perhaps Diaz as well – will be getting some serious minutes down the road.

Martin talks about the season’s newcomers

3 Nov

At Kansas State’s basketball media day last week, I asked coach Frank Martin what each of the first-year guys brings to the team.

“They all bring something different,” he began, “and I know that sounds like a generic answer, but it’s the truth. We don’t have two of them that do the same thing.”

The coach then proceeded to launch into wonderfully detailed description of each of the six new scholarship players. I could paraphrase his comments, but I found everything he said to be interesting and informative, so I’ll just give you Martin’s remarks as he said them.

#42 Thomas Gipson – 6’7″ 275-lb forward – freshman from Cedar Hill, Texas

“Gipson’s a 270-pound wide body that’s not scared to throw that big body of his around. He lays wood on you, you know you got hit. Gives us a presence at the rim. He plays with the same aggression as Luis Colon, but has an understanding of how to score a little bit like Curtis Kelly – but doesn’t rebound the ball as well as either one of those guys yet. It’s something that’ll come.”

#20 Adrian Diaz – 6’10” 225-lb forward – freshman from Miami, Florida

“Adrian Diaz is long and athletic and can run. When the game’s up and down, you see his strengths. When the game’s a grind and a physical nature, you see that he’s got a ways to go from a strength standpoint. He’s got great hands. If he catches that ball, he’s going to dunk it. He’s 10 feet away he can shoot it in the basket – the ball doesn’t hit his hand and end up in the cheerleaders. It stays in the court, which is a plus.”

#13 Angel Rodriguez – 5’11 180-lb guard – freshman from San Juan, Puerto Rico  

“Then Angel, he’s a consummate point guard. He’s the kind of guy that understands the tempo of the game, when to go, when not to go, he’s a little pit bull defensively.”

[Because of knee problems, Rodriguez only played in games – no practices – his senior year of high school, and had surgery after the season. Now he has to get back into the habit of practice.]

“That attention to that daily focus for practice, that you’ve got to have, he’s trying to relearn that because it got lost in the shuffle because of the situation last year.”

James Watson – 6’8″ 230-pound forward – Atoka, Oklahoma – junior transfer from Cowley College

“James is a young man that in individuals has shown the ability to be an outstanding Big 12 athlete. He can jump up and block shots. He can run, dunks the basketball. He probably has had, in individuals, more lob dunks than any guy we’ve had since I’ve been here. Walker would just dunk on people, but James is just athletic. He runs and jumps up in the air pretty good, and he shoots it fairly well. We need him to do what he’s got to do to be able to earn the right to be on the floor, which I think he will.”

[When Martin says, “do what he’s got to do to be able to earn the right to be on the floor,” he is referring to the incredibly challenging conditioning test – an extended series of timed sprints, I have been told – that players must pass before they are allowed to practice.]

Omari Lawrence – 6’3″ 220-lb guard – Bronx, New York – sophomore transfer from St. John’s

“Omari gives us what I call power guard. He’s a 6-foot-3 strong guy that understands – I never watched Omari play at St. Johns. I watched him the summer between his sophomore and junior year in high school. He didn’t shoot it. He’d drive it. He’d finish at the rim. Well, now, after watching him in practice for nine, 10 days, whatever it’s been, he shoots the ball real well, so he’s obviously spent time getting better with that. He’s struggling with our defensive concepts right now, but he’ll be fine. He’s an older guy, and I think he’ll be fine.”

Jeremy Jones – 6’2″ 170-lb guard – Chicago, Illinois – junior transfer from Seward County Community College

“Jeremy Jones is fast. He’s the kind of guy that can go get a basket on his own. He doesn’t need help to go get a shot. He can figure that one out. He needs a lot of help on the other side of the floor, but it’s not because of a lack of competitiveness. Like all first-year guys – if we played a 2-3 zone it’d be a lot easier for those guys to learn what we do. Our concepts our different than 99 percent of the people out there from a defensive standpoint, so it takes time for those guys to learn, and he’s competing his tail off. But he brings a speed element to the game. He had a basket yesterday in the open floor where it was Denis Clemente-like from a speed standpoint, but then the difference is that he went up and finished over Diaz and J.O. – Jordan. I don’t know how the heck he got the shot on the rim, but he did. It was an impressive basket because he showed that unbelieveable speed and then the ability to score over size.”