Tag Archives: Jacob Pullen Kansas State

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Wildcats’ consistency faces tough test in Tigers

25 Feb

K-State is currently on a three-game win streak, the longest the team has had since the non-conference season. After a mind-blowing 16-point victory over the newly No. 1 Jayhawks in Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats parlayed that momentum into a home win over Oklahoma and a gritty road victory at Nebraska.

With only three games remaining in the regular season, K-State (19-9, 7-6 Big 12) faces two top-25 teams. At 11 a.m. Saturday, the team plays Missouri. In the last meeting, back on Jan. 17, the Tigers (22-6, 8-5 Big 12) forced the Wildcats into 24 turnovers, a number that makes any coach want to head to the nearest trash can and either pick it up and throw it or throw up into it.

Missouri has only lost six games this season, and four of those losses came against teams ranked No. 15 or higher in the country. The Tigers have won five of their last six games, with the only loss in that bunch coming against Kansas.

In that last contest, which ended 75-59 in favor of Missouri, the Tigers had five players score in double figures. The Wildcats, on the other hand, had only two – guard Jacob Pullen and forward Jordan Henriquez-Roberts.

Apparently, five Tigers scoring in double digits was not an anomaly. Marcus Denmon, Ricardo Ratliffe, Laurence Bowers, Kim English and Michael Dixon all average at least 10 points per game, and Denmon usually scores around 16.

The last time these teams played, Missouri amassed 15 assists to K-State’s 7. Now, though, the Wildcats have a new offense to take advantage of the smaller, more athletic lineup they’ve been using recently. As assistant coach Brad Underwood explains it, the team is still trying to attack the rim, but they’re doing it from further away. Instead of doing it with brute strength, the players are doing it with ball movement and cuts to the basket.

Keys to the Game:

Ball security 24 turnovers by the Wildcats the last time these teams played, and the Tigers had 12 steals. This is the obvious area of improvement, one that can be achieved by making responsible passes, dribbling less and being strong with the ball in the paint. Never in a million years would I expect the turnover count to be anywhere near as high as it was last time, but you never know.

Running that offense This is likely going to be a run-and-gun type of game, played at breakneck speed, but the Wildcats will have to be patient too. K-State has a size advantage here, especially with Henriquez-Roberts, who stands 7 feet tall. The most methodical way to exploit that is to work the ball around the perimeter, send guys cutting, and get to the rim.

Free throw shooting The Wildcats managed to come through when it mattered in Nebraska on Wednesday, but missing 9 free throw attempts is not going to cut it against the No. 21 team in the country.