Tag Archives: Frank Martin Kansas State

Basketball team adds Darren Kent, Eric Rodriguez to staff

26 Aug

The names of recently announced graduate managers will be familiar ones. K-State Sports Information sent out a release today that stated Darren Kent, a former Wildcat basketball player, and Eric Rodriguez, also a former college player and son of well-known Floridian coach “Shakey” Rodriguez, will be part of the team’s staff this season as they pursue their graduate degrees in college student personnel.

Kent, a Minnesota native, played at K-State from 2005-2009 and under three different coaches – Jim Wooldridge, Bob Huggins and Frank Martin. As a point guard in the 2007-08 season, Kent helped lead the Wildcats back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in over two decades. Over his years with the team, he averaged just under 15 minutes per game ( in which he got 4.3 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game) and shot almost 41 percent from the floor. After graduating from the university with a degree in social sciences, he played professionally in France for a year.

Rodriguez, a 2011 graduate of New York Institute of Technology, also had a four-year college basketball career. He played two seasons at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before switching to NYIT and playing two seasons there. A master of the assist (he led NYIT in the category both as a junior and as a senior), Rodriguez comes to K-State directly after earning his degree in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in business.

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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.

Looking Ahead at Next Year’s Roster: The Seniors

6 May

Now that we know who isn’t going to be returning from the 2010-2011 men’s basketball team, let’s take a look at who is. With a just slightly bigger senior class and a half-dozen new guys, it has all the potential to be another year of constantly-changing lineups and major minutes for multiple players.

The senior class will consist of forwards Jamar Samuels and Victor Ojeleye and guard Devon Peterson.

Last season, Samuels had by far the most playing time of the trio, although he did not follow up on his 2009-2010 Sixth Man of the Year Award with the every-game consistency that K-State fans had hoped to see from him. However, he certainly contributed greatly to the team and matured throughout the season, stepping into a leadership role when Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were suspended, and deciding to take a hiatus from Twitter, along with the rest of the team.

Samuels, a product of the Patterson School in North Carolina, has been in Manhattan for the duration of his college career. Ever the jokester, journalist grew accustomed to getting the most interesting quotes from him as he hammed it up at every opportunity during his sophomore season (2009-2010). Last season, however, Samuels was much more even-keel, both in press conferences and in games. The more serious, grown-up version of Samuels could be just what the Wildcats need with so many young players and newcomers on the roster.

Ojeleye will also be a guiding force for the team, as his hard work and diligence in practice earned him playing time in numerous games from the “equal opportunity” head coach Frank Martin. Also one who is dedicated in school and strong in his faith, Ojeleye has been the heart and soul of the team, a source of encouragement at all times. (That’s the report from Martin and Ojeleye’s teammates; you’d better believe he’s the one giving the credit to his coaches and teammates.)

Peterson has a single year of K-State basketball under his belt, as he transferred from Broward (Fla.) College after one year there. While he played sparingly throughout the season, he looked to have some good natural speed and a knack for slashing to the basket.

Soon to come: a review of the six newcomers. Stay tuned!

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.

K-State done for tournament; Martin, not so much

26 Mar

The Wildcats may be out of the tournament, but head coach Frank Martin’s involvement is not yet complete, as CBS has requested his services as a guest analyst this weekend. The team’s sports information director said he will be in the studio from 5:30 to 9:30 CT. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I will tune in to watch, as will many others, I’m sure. While the coach’s comments should informative and entertaining for viewers, they accomplish a myriad of other objectives as well.

First of all, what great exposure for Kansas State University. Certainly, the Wildcats have been in the news all season – good news at the beginning of the season and the end of the season, and slightly-more-iffy news in the middle portion. Now, an audience of millions will see the team’s fearless/fearsome leader talking about the game, bringing to mind the team, its storylines, and the university in general.

Secondly, this gives people an opportunity to see Martin in a normal environment – not the intense two-hour span of a basketball game, not the post-game press conference when he is annoyed about a loss and is very ready to go home. When I tell people outside K-State that Martin is really a nice person, sometimes there is a little skepticism. For him to be on here analyzing other teams, it gives people some insight into his intelligence as a coach, his sense of humor, and the cordial personality that is underneath that scary stare and physically imposing demeanor.

Last but not least, Martin’s turn as an analyst will be one more opportunity for all the Wildcat fans to see him in action, and that’s nice, because let’s face it: March is a whole lot less interesting without him.

K-State Report Card: Defense, Rebounding, Offense

19 Mar

Defense: C

In the first half of this game against Wisconsin, the Wildcats seemed to have trouble rotating on defense. Wisconsin is moving the ball well – 7 assists on 11 made shots – and the more the Badgers pass, the more the Wildcats have to reposition. The longer that process takes, the harder it is to play man-to-man defense. Whipping the ball around the perimeter usually leads to finding an open man eventually, and as a result, Wisconsin shot 50 from the floor.

Leading up to this game, head coach Frank Martin said Wisconsin’s big men would make the Wildcats defend pick and roll situations. Because Jordan Taylor is such a capable shooter and shoots so often, going under the ball screen doesn’t work. As such is the case, other tactics must be employed – Martin did not specify what those would be, but he said his team’s success in handling those scenarios would determine its level of success.

Offense: C

The Wildcats had a rough 20 minutes to start the game. For the majority of the first half, only Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly had scored, while Wisconsin had eight players with something other than 0 in the points column. Pullen ended the half with 17 points, while Kelly added 9, and the only other scoring came from Rodney McGruder (3 points) and Juevol Myles (1 point).

Rebounding: B-

In the first half of this game, the Badgers outrebounded the Wildcats 14-9, and its total included five offensive rebounds.

Martin had emphasized rebounding as a key to the game because the Badgers monopolize the clock every time they get possession. If they get an offensive board, the Wildcats have to play defense for another 30 seconds. If they get a defensive board, the Wildcats have to go through that offensive process all over again. Basically, the Badgers try to exhaust teams by making them defend for a large part of the game.

Keys to the game from Frank, Curt & Jake

19 Mar

Throughout the season, fans and sports reporters talk about must-win games. Coaches and players fall back on the predictable – but reasonable – rhetoric that every game is a must-win game. This time of year, it’s actually true. No win, no more basketball. Today, the team standing between the Kansas State Wildcats and some more basketball is the Wisconsin Badgers.

According to K-State head coach Frank Martin, keys to the game include keeping the Badgers out of rhythm and rebounding the ball.

“If you give them an offensive rebound, they’re either scoring or pulling it out, and now you are guarding for 30 more seconds and that makes it for a long possession,” Martin said.

Wisconsin is notorious for slowing down the game. In the Big 10 tournament, the Badgers lost to Penn State … 36-33. No I’m not kidding. That’s not a misprint – not the halftime score. They grind down the shot clock and then crash the boards to try and start the possession all over again and do the same thing.

This game will be, among other elements, all about the Js – Jacob Pullen and Jordan Taylor. It should be a pretty compelling matchup. Pullen said Taylor does a good job of using the shot clock, lulling defenders to sleep before taking over a possession. That means the Wildcats have to employ a little variety in stopping him.

“We have to do a great job of defending the ball screen and keeping him in a position where he doesn’t know what kind of defense we’re playing, whether we’re trapping it or soft hedging the ball screen,” Pullen said. “Just really keep him guessing. The other thing is we really got to make him guard. Whoever he is guarding, we have to make sure he plays 36, 37 minutes a game, we’ve got to make sure he is using his energy on both ends, not only on offensive end.”

While Frank Martin said it would be exceedingly difficult to slow down Wisconsin, he said his team has to keep Taylor out of rhythm, not allow him to get comfortable, and to keep him out of the paint.

“When he gets in the paint, then he forces help and then he finds shooters,” Martin said. “They put five shooters out there, four shooters, he is a shooter also, but four other guys outside of him, so then that puts tremendous pressure on your rotations to get to that next shooter. “

Working against the Badgers’ swing offense will be a challenge for the Wildcats, particularly for the forwards because Wisconsin’s big men step out further from the lane than, forcing their defenders to step out and guard further from the basket.

K-State senior forward Curtis Kelly will be one of the players handling this transition, likely matching up against Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer, a 6’10” forward who can shoot from 3-point range.

“I’m going to have to come off screens,” Kelly said. “Instead of dealing with a lot of cross screens I’m going to have to deal with a lot of down screens and stagger screens. And me being a big, that’s going to be a little difficult. But, you know, I’m going to try to do my best to guard the player they want me to guard as best I can.”

Martin said if his team allows Wisconsin to move the ball freely side to side and get it in the paint, the Wildcats will be in trouble because that means Kelly and fellow forward Jordan Henriquez-Roberts get dragged out of the lane, and those are the guys that protect the rim. However, the coach said K-State has faced similar scenarios before, such as playing Iowa State and trying to contain Diante Garrett coming off the ball screen.

“We’ll work on that some today and use some of the experiences from the season to hopefully get us as ready as we can,” Martin said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get the Best of the Badgers

18 Mar

After the Wildcats’ 73-68 win over Utah State on Thursday night, it’s one win down and four to go. Senior guard Jacob Pullen said he wants K-State to remember him for bringing the school a national championship, and on Saturday the team will have an opportunity to get another step closer as it faces Wisconsin in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

With even 4-seed vs. 13-seed and 3-seed vs. 14-seed games coming down to the wire this tournament, it’s almost a sure thing that a 4-seed vs. 5-seed matchup will be even more intensely competitive. That, as we all know, is why yesterday and today are probably the least productive workdays of the year across the United States.

Some of the stats on the Wildcats give us a little insight on what they need to do to be successful in this next game:

  • K-State is 22-4 when leading at halftime this season. Simply put, it’s imperative that the Wildcats start strong. They have to come out with energy and get some shots and stops early to get into a rhythm. Taking advantage of momentum is much easier than trying to create it once you’re in a bad situation. While the latter option is not impossible, it’s difficult and exhausting, and the opponents a team faces in the NCAA tournament are going to inflict enough hardship; this isn’t the time to make things harder on oneself with careless mistakes.
  • Wildcats are 20-6 when outrebounding their opponents. This isn’t surprising in the least, of course, because defense rebounds deprive opponents of possessions and facilitate fast breaks and offensive rebounds give current possessions new life. As senior Curtis Kelly has become more comfortable on the blocks after missing 9 games in the earlier portion of the season, and as sophomore Jordan Henriquez-Roberts has become stronger and more aggressive at the rim, K-State’s frontcourt has been surprisingly effective, even with Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge, who quit the team in January.

After watching Wisconsin whip Belmont yesterday, I’ve compiled a few observations about the Badgers. These are some of the aspects the Wildcats will have to watch in order to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

  • The most obvious one: They can shoot the roof off the place if you let them. Against the Bruins on Thursday, the Badgers hit 12 of 22 from 3-point range, and they make 82 percent of their free throws. That’s the best in the country, just in case you’re wondering. I’m interested to see if the Wildcats will utilize a few different defensive sets to try and keep the Badgers guessing and disrupt their offensive rhythm. As for that lethal accuracy from the charity stripe, it would be prudent for the Wildcats to avoid any bonus situations for as long as possible.
  • The Badgers can make runs. Their game with Belmont was very close for probably the first 15, 17 minutes of the game. Then Wisconsin went on a tear to close out the first half and followed it up with another to begin the second half. The takeaway from: K-State is going to have to hunker down and be sharp and energetic for the duration of the game. The instant someone takes a play off because he’s tired, Wisconsin will take advantage. Because of this, expect head coach Frank Martin to sub fairly often, as he has been doing recently.
  • Wisconsin takes care of the ball. The team averages only seven turnovers per game. Last night, Belmont forced the Badgers into seven in the first half, and that played a large role in how close the game was to that point. The Wildcats will need to do likewise on Saturday.

Now comes the hard part

14 Mar

I can’t remember whether I first heard this saying from a player, coach, friend of a friend or character in a movie. Regardless, I feel like it’s true, especially the older I get, and especially for college basketball teams at this time of year.

“The only easy day was yesterday.”

The K-State men’s basketball team received a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament yesterday. Unlike college football’s bowl system, where teams can wait up to a month for their one-game postseason, March Madness calls for an immediate turnaround. Teams playing in the first round have only Sunday night and Monday to prepare for their first matchup. That’s part of what makes it all so much fun.

K-State has until Thursday evening to get ready for the No. 12 seed Utah State Aggies. I don’t know about you, but as one who has filled out a bracket for many years, I always liked the 5 vs. 12 matchups as upset picks. Then again, upsets are not so upsetting these days. As K-State head coach Frank Martin said, these games are difficult because every single team is aware that its basketball season is over if it doesn’t win. That makes people focus in more, and that extra desire gets applied to each possession, Martin explained. Simply put, there are no easy games.

Wildcat senior guard Jacob Pullen said that while there are good seeds and bad seeds, the outcome of a game really boils down to the matchup. His example was this: if a No. 1 seed gets paired with a No. 16 seed who has an incredible forward, and the No. 1 seed doesn’t have depth in the frontcourt, that is a difficult arrangement for the No. 1 seed.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean the No. 16 seed will win, but that kind of scenario could make it difficult for the favored team. Now apply that kind of logic to your 8 v. 9 matchup, your 5 v. 12 matchup, and all those other games where the teams have a more even talent level thanks to recruiting power, and things can get very interesting (read: entertaining) very quickly.

K-State’s recent encounters with Colorado are a perfect example of the power of matchups. As Martin and various Colorado players mentioned after the game, the Wildcats like to deny entry passes to the post on defense, but the Buffaloes have several players who can make plays off the dribble and get the ball to the rim that way. This year, Colorado had K-State’s number, and how the teams matched up was the reason why.

Looking at this first game, against Utah State, the first aspect I want to look at is strength of schedule. The Aggies have lost only 3 games this season, but they have only played two ranked teams: then-No. 14 Georgetown, at the beginning of the year, to whom they lost 68-51, and then-No. 23 Saint Mary’s,about a month ago, whom they beat 75-65.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, have played 10 games against ranked teams. You heard that correctly: a third of K-State’s opponents were ranked in the top 25. The Wildcats are 5-5 against ranked teams, but their losses came against Duke (a No. 1 seed in the NCAA  tournament), Florida (a No. 2 seed), Missouri (a No. 11 seed), Texas A&M (a No. 7 seed) and Kansas (a No. 1 seed) – and all of those were played away from Bramlage Coliseum.

Without going into a detailed scouting report (we’ll save that for another day, another blog), I would venture that – if nothing else – the Wildcats certainly have better preparation than Utah State heading into this postseason. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume that, despite 1o losses, that strength of schedule is why K-State got such a high seed in the first place.