Tag Archives: Jacob Pullen

Leading Questions

11 Dec

The Wildcats won on Sunday, but to continue to win, the leadership on the team has to get better, coach Frank Martin said.

If it doesn’t?

“We’ll be a very average team.”

At the postgame press conference after an overtime victory over North Florida, Martin spent a significant amount of time talking about leadership from past players … and not a whole lot discussing the leadership of this 2011-12 team.

First of all, he talked about Jacob Pullen. Even though Martin and the other coaches had to get him out of the spoiled, baby-of-the-family mode he was in when he came to the program, he was willing to work and do what was asked of him. Also, he put an emphasis on preparation and attention to detail. However, his leadership was not quite the same as that of guys a year older than him.

“Last year when [Jacob] struggled with leadership, he wanted to be friends with guys off the court, which is great, but when guys didn’t do what they were supposed to do on the floor, he wouldn’t step up and demand that they do it differently,” Martin said. “Luis Colon, Denis Clemente, those guys, they stepped up. If you didn’t respect what we were asking you to do on the floor, or the culture that we had as a program,  they weren’t going to waste any time or mince any words to get you to do things right. Merriewether, same way.”

Martin acknowledges that there is no magic formula that can create that kind of accountability at the beginning of a season. Part of the reason Kansas State went to the Elite Eight in 2010 was that the previous year the team had to go through leadership struggles and miss out on the NCAA tournament. That transformation happened, Martin said, because of the leadership of Clemente, Colon and Merriewether.

“Those guys said, ‘Man, we’ve worked too hard in our lives to get somewhere with this basketball, and to build a culture around here. This is not happening,’” Martin recalled. “Well, that team dealt with it that year, and at the end of the year, we weren’t quite good enough to go to the NCAA tournament, but then what happened the following year? That culture was in that locker room. That lack of respect for who we were, we didn’t have to worry about that.”

That early stage of development – where no one has quite put his foot down and demanded a certain standard – is where this year’s team is now, to hear Martin tell it. He is optimistic, though, saying that the team has good guys in the locker room and that he needs to help them learn how to grow in those leadership roles.

Still, Martin issued a bit of an ultimatum, albeit a reasonable one.

“There’s two words that need to take place, and I just shared this with them in the locker room,” Martin said. “Honesty and loyalty, and if you don’t have those two words in your vocabulary, you can’t lead, and you can’t follow.”

Preview: Kansas State vs. George Washington

1 Dec

Who are the guys to watch in this game? It should not be difficult to keep track of the guys to watch for George Washington: two of the most interesting ones have alliterations – #3 Tony Taylor and #5 Bryan Bynes. Taylor, a senior point guard, leads the team in scoring (nearly 16 ppg), assists (nearly 5 per game) and steals (a little over 1 per game), according to the team’s website. As you can imagine, he is not on the bench much – only about 5 minutes each game. Oh, by the way, he’s shooting a scathing 63 percent (12 of 19) from beyond the arc. Bynes is one it will be interesting to watch because he and Kansas State’s Martavious Irving have been friends since they were little kids and played on the same high school team and AAU team. For the Wildcats, look for Jamar Samuels to have loosened up and be finishing on some of those looks he missed last game. Also, Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder should hit some outside shots early so they can keep defenders honest and have opportunities to slash to the rim as well. Maybe the most fun to watch will be Thomas Gipson, the beastly freshman who has been converting at the rim and earning and-ones like nobody’s business.

What will this game tell us about the Wildcats? Coach Frank Martin said the Colonels are all about controlling the tempo of the game – that’s their coach’s modus operandi, or “schtick,” as Martin says. To combat this, either the Wildcats will have to get steals and defensive rebounds and push a faster tempo, or they will have to play in a much more disciplined manner than they have been doing lately – actually running plays, setting picks and passing. Obviously, a faster tempo would probably be better for Kansas State.

How might this game impact Kansas State going forward? This is a team that’s 4-1. Eastern Maryland Shore, the only game so far the Wildcats have won by a significant margin, was 1-3 heading into Bramlage Coliseum. Kansas State has definitely been going through its growing pains even with nominally easier opponents, and now it hits a stretch of much more challenging ones: George Washington tonight, Virginia Tech on Dec. 4, and West Virginia in Wichita on Dec. 8. Tonight’s game could set the tone for this stretch. A strong performance is going to provide some confidence going into those, so win or lose, the Wildcats need that tonight.

When was the last time these teams played? These teams last met in December of 1940 in Washington D.C. In that game, George Washington defeated Kansas State 48-25.

Where is George Washington University? George Washington University is in Washington, D.C., along with Georgetown University and George Mason University, in case you were wondering.

Why is this particular game on the schedule? Martin said he wants to try to get his players back home to be able to play in front of their families and friends as much as possible. The team accomplished that by playing Loyola in Chicago – where Jacob Pullen is from – last season, and an encore of tomorrow night’s game in Washington D.C. would get Rodney McGruder back to his home.


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!

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.

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.

What to Expect: Kansas State vs. Utah State

17 Mar

Sadly, I am not in Tuscon today, due to the budget constraints of the Kansas State Collegian. While I would have love to just start spring break early and head down there on my own dime, my plane ticket to New York to cover the Wildcats’ participation in the Pinstripe Bowl of Dec. 30 kind of wiped out any extra money I could put toward that. So with that background info, I’ll give my somewhat educated guess of what K-State needs to do to get through its first game with the win.

Fortunately, the always-helpful sports information department of Kansas State sent some quotes from head coach Frank Martin my way, so in addition to what I see on paper, I’ll draw from his insight as well.

 

1) The Aggies are going to take care of the ball, so the Wildcats had better do likewise. According to statistics of ESPN.com, K-State averages 15 turnovers per game, while Utah State gives the ball away around 12 times each contest.

According to Martin, the Aggies are very disciplined on offense because they have a plethora of upperclassmen – six seniors and three juniors – who really have the experience and mentality to play well on a consistent basis. More than that, this is a team that is used to winning.In fact, multiple articles quote the Aggies as being confused and disappointed with the No. 12 seed.

“They’ve got a championship culture in their program,” Martin said. “They expect to win the games they play regardless of who the opponent is. It’s hard to overcome those things when you are playing against somebody that has those beliefs.”

 

2) K-State’s defense will need to be as effective as it has been all season, or more so. Throughout this year, defense has improved exponentially for the Wildcats, in my estimation. At the beginning of the season, Martin talked about how players were not rotating properly, and it was easy to see exactly what he was talking about. Watch them now, and it’s apparent that there has been serious progress. As part of the Aggies’ strategy is limiting its mistakes on offense, the Wildcats need to hassle them, frazzle them, and generally make them make mistakes.

I think it also helps K-State that its leading scorer is also its premiere defender. Not only does Jacob Pullen score upwards of 20 points nearly every game, he draws the assignment of containing the opponent’s best player. That’s got to be an inspiration to the other guys on the team: if Pullen is committed and tireless enough to go all out and take responsibility on both ends of the floor, surely that motivates his teammates to support him by doing likewise.

Martin said the struggle between these teams will come down to who wants the win more.

“That’s going be the battle of wills right there,” he said. “You know, our willingness to be disciplined and pressure without fouling, which we got better at as the year went on, to disrupt. And Utah State’s ability to deal with our pressure and still stay in their place and get the shots they want. You know, then once that ball goes on the rim, who is going to have the bigger desire to go get it; them on offense or us on defense and vice versa when the ball’s on the other side.”

 

3) While mentioning the necessity of making free throws is always good for a few rolling eyes, I just think it’s that important. Already, there have been some incredibly close games. The vast majority of these games will be decided by one or two shots, so even going 15-for-20 from the charity stripe could cost a team a win. The Wildcats have been streaky in this area throughout the season, but I’m hoping that the team has matured enough to forget all that and just put the ball in the basket.

 

4) In general, K-State has to make shots. This can’t be one of those 30-percent-from-the-floor nights. If that happens, there is a large possibly the Wildcats’ season will be over. The players will have to balance the gravity of “The season is over if we lose this game” with the more relaxed attitude of “We love basketball, and we need to win to get to continue playing.” If they just continue with the sort of ball movement that has been happening recently, good looks should come naturally, and if the players stay calm and play within their capabilities, they should be able to take advantage.

The ESPN bracket marked this game as a possible upset. I think that analysis is wrong, but you never know. In about five hours we will, though.

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.

What Goes Around Comes Around

6 Mar

A week before the NCAA tournament’s Selection Sunday, the Big 12 league office announced this season’s award winners. Among those were Kansas State guards Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder. While the news about Pullen is far from shocking, it was a bit more surprising to see McGruder on the list, even though it really shouldn’t be.

Pullen is the first player to be recruited to the Wildcats by head coach Frank Martin and stay at K-State all four years. Certainly, it has been a mutually beneficial relationship. The senior is only the second player in Wildcat history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark, and he was the only first-team repeat selection from last season to this season. Oh, and his selection was unanimous.

McGruder, selected to the third team, has earned every bit of that recognition. While some of the older guys get most of the attention and talk more in press conferences and such, this sophomore has quietly made a huge impact on this team, for much of the season leading the squad in both rebounds and three-pointers. McGruder has been Mr. Consistent this season, the only player to start all 31 games. He scored in double figures in 21 of those.

Player of the Year went to KU’s Marcus Morris, and Coach of the Year went to his coach Bill Self. Texas’ Tristan Thompson earned Freshman of the Year, while his teammate Dogus Balbay won Defensive Player of the Year. Newcomer of the Year went to MU’s Ricardo Ratliffe, while Baylor’s Quincy Acy and Colorado’s Levi Knutson shared the Sixth Man Award.

Looking at the honors across the board, it’s interesting to see that the Wildcats are in the company of KU and Texas as far as award-winning players. In just a few days, we’ll get to see just how much all those awards are worth.

Thrice as Nice: Three Reasons Why the Wildcats Will Win (or Won’t)

28 Feb

While predictions aren’t my favorite form of journalism, they certainly aren’t unheard of. I don’t pretend to know who is going to win this evening, but here are three factors that favor each team going into tonight’s game. Feel free to take them into consideration for your pre-game discussions with friends and foes alike.

“We Own Texas” – Why the Wildcats Will Win

1) In the same way that Texas has nearly always found a way to beat Nebraska, K-State often pulls out the upset over the Longhorns. Whether that’s psychological or just coincidental in recent years, it’s definitely been a trend. Either way, the Wildcats aren’t going to be walking into this game intimidated. They’re on a four-game winning streak that included two top-25 teams.

As head coach Frank Martin said, this team has been through every possible emotion over the course of this season. It’s been rattled by all sorts of surprises, but players say the locker room is more united than ever. Bottom line: I’ve got to think K-State’s confidence gives the team an edge here.

2) The Wildcats’ senior point guard is averaging almost 30 points per game since the epic victory over Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum, but he is not the only offensive weapon for K-State. Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been Mr. Consistent (apologies if that is already a title for someone else) and leads the team in rebounding as a guard.

Losing forwards Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla necessitated a change in the offense, and that change has worked well so far. As assistant coach Brad Underwood explained it, instead of attacking the rim with a big guy parked in the paint, the Wildcats are doing it by drawing defenders out away from the basket and then sending players cutting toward the hoop. Statistical evidence of success? “Our assist numbers are through the roof … That means that there’s ball movement, players cutting, players playing together,” Martin said. Bottom line: The Wildcats have a chance because their new offense allows better ball movement.

3) Hustle and work ethic have not really been an issue for this team – mainly because Martin yanks from the lineup anyone who is slacking off. I’m sure the Longhorns have plenty of desire as well, but right now, the Wildcats need this win more. There was talk of them not even getting into the NCAA tournament, where Texas has been in first place in the Big 12 all season long. K-State has to have a win to bolster their resume for good seeds in the Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament. If the Wildcats can stay in the game, where it comes down to who wants it more, I think they have the advantage.

“Don’t Mess with Texas” – Why the Wildcats Won’t Win

1) Martin said Texas is the most physical team on the Wildcats’ schedule. Depending on what area of the court that physicality takes place, it could be difficult for K-State to contend with some of the bigger bodies on the Longhorns’ roster. If it comes down to banging and bruising in the paint, that scenario favors Texas. Really, K-State only has three forwards – Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts. (Victor Ojeleye hasn’t played much recently, and Nino Williams is out after some concussions early on this season.) Because of that limited supply of big guys, the Wildcats don’t have many fouls to give, and mentally it’s tougher to be aggressive when you know it’ll be hard for your team to replace you if you foul out or have to go to the bench.

2) After K-State played Kansas in Lawrence, right after the Jayhawks had lost to Texas, Martin joked that he asked Bill Self to stop losing before K-State played the Jayhawks because the Wildcats always seem to encounter “the pissed-off version” of the team. Now, Texas is in a situation similar to what Kansas was at that point: had been dominant thus far, had lost to a team it could have beaten, and was returning to its home court. Martin said this season that he’d rather play teams when they’re “fat and comfortable” than when they’re on a bit of a skid. So, although this applies to K-State some too, the redemption factor goes to Texas.

3) The game is in Austin. It’s as simple as that. The Wildcats have struggled on the road this season, as eight of the team’s nine losses have come outside the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum. While giving a home court advantage to the home team seems ridiculously redundant, I think it’s appropriate to mention considering K-State’s away-from-home troubles over the last few months.