Tag Archives: Frank Martin K-State

Compliments of Texas A&M

28 Feb

It is common knowledge that coaching is a small world. Hardly surprising, then, is that not only is Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy familiar with Kansas State coach Frank Martin, but he once offered him a job.

During the Aggie’s weekly press conference on Monday, Kennedy had some interesting perspective on the fifth-year coach of the Wildcats.

Can you talk about your relationship with Frank Martin?

“Frank and I go way back. I offered Frank a job when he was in between jobs in Miami when I was the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana, because I knew the kind of coach he was and the kind of recruiter he was. It didn’t work out but we’ve maintained a relationship from then on. I really think he does a great job. To be the winningest coach at Kansas State in the first however many years he’s been coaching there says a lot. He’s done a tremendous job.”

Is that stare scary to you?

“(laughing) Haha, no. Frank’s a big teddy bear, people don’t realize that.”

Would you still tell his players that?

“His players love playing for him. That’s how he is. He loves those kids more than most people really know.”

What makes him a teddy bear?

“He’s got a soft heart. He cares about people and he cares about his players in a deep way. I know that because I know guys who played for him in high school when I was coaching in Miami, and good friends of his who grew up with him. The loyalty he has and the relationship he has with his friends is pretty good.”

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.”

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.

 

Awesome News: Frank Martin is on Twitter

13 May

Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin is on Twitter.

I discovered this as one of my friends  – who is a manager for the team – mentioned him in a tweet. If you follow @FrankMartinKSU, you are gathering insight from “The Official Twitter Account of K-State Basketball Head Coach, Frank Martin.”

While Martin could probably have someone tweet for him, I don’t think that is the case here. If you’ve heard the coach talk before, with his habitual word choice and mannerisms, you’ll more than likely share my opinion. The tweets just sound like Martin, and the 14 tweets from him so far have proved quite informative.

Fact #1: Martin graced the social media site with his virtual presence beginning May 10, when he tweeted:

“Hello world of Twitter. Thought it’s about time i started sharing with you all the great things about K-State Basketball!!!”

… and later …

“As I unwind on my 1st day on twitter I give thanks 4 being the luckiest man alive..I work at a great place w great people & BIGTIME kids”

Fact #2: Martin follows the NBA, at least to an extent. He made several comments about the Miami Heat, including this one on May 12:

“Heat, they have more than the bulls and unlike Atlanta Miami defends. Great series though I say in 6”

Quite frankly, I think it is great that the coach is on Twitter. Martin is generally a pretty candid guy, and it’s always interesting to hear what he has to say. People are used to the crazy guy who yells on the sideline, so it’ll be good for everyone to have a bit more well-rounded perspective of the man who has put Kansas State basketball back in the spotlight.

Surprise, surprise: Martin won’t be going to Miami

22 Apr

CBSSports.com reported that Jim Larranga, head coach at George Mason, will be replacing Frank Haith at the University of Miami. Now, finally, since the job appears to be filled, maybe everyone can let go of the notion that Frank Martin will leave K-State to go there.

I wrote a column for the K-State Collegian (read it here) with my reaction to Martin’s interview with the Associated Press, in which he said 1) he hadn’t been contacted by Miami, 2) part of the reason might be confusion about his salary, and 3) he would never say never, basically, in response to any job offer.

It’s been hard for people around here to hear the speculation about whether Martin would stay or go. Rumors started flying when the Miami job opened up, and chatter only continued to grow when he stayed silent.

When he finally talked with a reporter (Doug Tucker, a 42-year veteran of the AP who is retiring this year) for a comprehensive story, Martin did little to dispel the notion that he would be interested in coaching in his hometown again. In fact, his statement that the University of Miami might not have contacted him because it didn’t think it could afford him, and the way he went on to correct the notion that he really makes $1.1 million a year instead of the popularized number of $1.5 million a year seemed to send a message: “I’m available for less money than you think I am! If you ask me, you might have a chance of getting me.”

Sometimes sports fans take it personally when a coach leaves or acknowledges interest from other teams. Somehow there’s a feeling that it’s something against the school, the fans, the community, whatever. Really, though, it’s rarely about that. It’s about a coach as a person, doing what he feels is best for him and his family and their future. Obviously, fans want to be part of the future for a coach they admire, and for the most part, people really like Martin, so they want to see him stay at K-State and have success here.

I’m not one to try to predict what will happen in the future, so I’ll stick with what my mom always tells me: Focus on what you do have instead of what you don’t have.

As far as K-State basketball, here’s the breakdown: we don’t have a blanket promise from the popular, polarizing and personable coach that he’ll stay forever, but for now we do have him leading the men’s basketball program, which is being invested in to the tune of $50 million for a new basketball practice facility and which is under the direction of a very component young athletic director in John Currie. I’d say that’s a pretty good place to be.

Frank Martin talks about the media

27 Mar

 

When the K-State head coach chastised a beat reporter for asking Jacob Pullen how he was feeling after the loss that marked the end of his college career, reactions varied. Some fans of other schools rolled their eyes, categorizing Martin’s reaction as an overreaction. Some media types, particularly those who had played or coached, saw the merit in the coach’s response, agreeing that the question was inappropriate. I thought the above video was quite eye-opening as to Martin’s feelings about the whole scenario.

Here were my thoughts about the whole thing:

  • As a reporter interviewing college students, it’s prudent – heck, it’s just the nice thing to do – to be a little sensitive. If there’s anything that makes a difficult situation even more painful, it’s trying to put into words how difficult the situation is. If you can plainly see how someone is feeling (say, Pullen pulling his jersey over his face at the end of the game, or his teammates sitting on the bench with dejected faces), it’s generally better to try to describe the visuals available instead of asking the clearly distraught 21-year-old how he is feeling.
  • I understand that this reporter probably wanted a quote from Pullen saying exactly what he said: that he doesn’t care about the record because all he wanted to do was win and go to the Final Four. However, a better way to get that quote might have been to say, for example: “You’ve told us all season how the records don’t mean anything for you right now, but because you did become K-State’s all-time leading scorer tonight, how far down the road do you see that sinking in and being able to just appreciate all the accomplishments you had with this group of guys?” Most likely, the answer given would have been pretty similar.
  • All that said, I don’t think there was malicious intent in this question, ill-worded or ill-timed though it may have been. The reporter, in my opinion, did not make Pullen cry. Any competitor, especially after the final game of his career, is going to take the loss hard. Pullen has invested himself physically, emotionally and mentally in this program over the last four years. It’s been his life. Now his time here is over, and that’s a difficult reality to grasp. However, it’s something all seniors go through.
  • When people talk about Pullen, it won’t be about that last press conference. It will be about him being the first player to go through four full years playing for Martin as a head coach. It will be about his maturation throughout that time, from a cocky freshman to a seasoned leader and the school’s all-time scoring leader. And hopefully, it will be about #0 hanging from the rafters of Bramlage Coliseum. Martin said he doesn’t know the criteria for having a number retired but said it would be a “crying shame” if somebody doesn’t figure out a way to get that done for Pullen.

Bad Timing: Texas Tech’s firing of Pat Knight

9 Mar

On March 7, Texas Tech issued a press release announcing that men’s basketball coach Pat Knight will be “relieved of his duties” at the conclusion of the season. Now, he’ll guide the team through the remainder of its games, but after that, he will no longer be employed by the Red Raiders.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s wrong to announce a coach’s firing before the end of the season? What purpose can this possibly serve?

To me, announcing a coach won’t return for next season while this season is still in progress is the administration saying that 1) it has zero faith in him, and 2) it feels the need to make sure everyone knows it. To me, that kind of statement undermines whatever is left of the season, creating a big distraction for the players and taking focus away from the team. To me, that’s outrageously disrespectful.

Coming into this season, Knight said that this was a “get-an-extension-or-get-fired type of year” for him. It’s not as if he doesn’t understand his situation, as if he did not understand it coming into this season. I’m sure he would not have been surprised to be let go at the end of the season, with the way games have gone.

I don’t know if Texas Tech thinks this announcement alleviates the pressure and gives the team a nothing-to-lose mentality going into the Big 12 tournament or what its rationale is, but I think it’s a crummy thing to do. During the offseason, a firing is more of a blip on the radar screen. While the season is still going, it gets a little more attention. In my opinion, firing a coach is something to be done as privately and subtly as possible – especially when he’s being let go for a lack of wins, not NCAA indiscretions or anything dishonorable.

K-State head coach Frank Martin said Knight is one of the good guys in the league and that it’s hard to see this happen to him. From my limited experiences talking with Knight, I’m inclined to agree with Martin. When I talked to the coach at the Big 12 Media Day and at a post-game press conference in Bramlage this season, his analysis and explanation of the game impressed me, and he comes across as one of those genuine people with a serious work ethic.

Obviously, the Red Raiders have been losing, and that’s not acceptable in college sports. I’m not surprised Texas Tech decided to go in a different direction, but I think announcing that decision with games still to be played was a poor move.

 

 

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.

 

A Frank Philosophy

26 Feb

After the Wildcats defeated Missouri 80-70 on Saturday afternoon, a reporter asked Kansas State coach Frank Martin to talk about his coaching style. Martin tilted his head to the side, wiped his hand across his face, and smiled, shaking his head.

“It is what it is, man,” he said with a laugh. Instead of leaving it at that, though, the coach went on to detail why he is so animated and hard-nosed in his instruction of the team, and the result was some interesting insight into why he does what he does. The following is what I took away from it.

1) He loves his job, and he quantifies the amount of that dedication by reminding everyone that he has been coaching for 26 years. As he himself says, he is an emotional guy, and he wants those surrounding him to have the same kind of fervor and enthusiasm for what they are doing.

“I have unbelievable passion for what I do. I want people with me who have unbelievable passion for what they do.”

2) He is a teacher, and he is responsible for ensuring his players learn how to do things the right way consistently so they can build toward their potential and not make errors that, if continued, will be detrimental further down the road.

“We spend countless hours rehearsing what we’re supposed to do. Why do you think it is that I don’t get aggravated with Jacob very much, just like I didn’t get aggravated with Denis very much? Because they’ve been through it, they understand, so they don’t make the mistakes that cost you games. I’ve got a very young team right now. They need to understand that every possession is important. Every minute of every practice, they have an opportunity to get better, and I hold people accountable.”

3) He doesn’t let people off the hook for less than they are capable of. When he sees mistakes, he calls them, and he does it so they will be better off in the long run.

“I tell you what, I’ve got children. I want people like me to deal with my children when I’m not around. I don’t want people to make their life easy. I want somebody who’s going to hold my kids accountable and who’s going to demand that they do right – not every once in a while, every day.”

4) He doesn’t let outside advice dictate how he runs his program.

“I understand I don’t make people happy sometimes, but as long as my players, my bosses, my family believe in me, that’s what matters to me.”

Senior guard Jacob Pullen also offered some thoughts on the part of the coach people see on the sideline.

“There’s a method to every madness, and for his it’s really just understanding his passion for the game.”

Pullen continued that, unlike some other coaches, Martin does not sugarcoat facts to make players happy; he tells them what they need to know to become better. Having a coach like Frank, as Pullen calls him, makes the players grow up as people, not just as athletes.

With the improvement that these guys have made over the course of this season, I’d say there’s merit to that.