Tag Archives: Jamar Samuels Kansas State

Senior Send-Off: Wildcats win 77-58 at Bramlage

3 Mar

MANHATTAN, Kan. – If you only watched Kansas State play in Bramlage Coliseum on this particular Saturday, you would be shocked to know that before this game the Wildcats had won just four of eight there this season. Kansas State pummeled Oklahoma State 77-58 and ended the regular season on the strongest possible note.

Rodney McGruder led the Wildcats in scoring yet again with 24 points, but seniors Jamar Samuels and Victor Ojeleye still earned their Senior Day spotlight, both performing singularly well in their final game in the Octagon of Doom.

Ojeleye, a two-time captain and Academic All-American, started the game for the first time and immediately made his presence known by taking a charge. He also scored the team’s first basket. He finished with two points, two rebounds and some significant defense in 16 minutes on the floor.

Samuels also made his last home game a memorable one, earning his 13th double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Chosen to shoot free throws in place of Jordan Henriquez when the junior got knocked in the mouth, Samuels was perfect from the charity stripe in the game. He also had a steal.

“He’s been zoned in,” coach Frank Martin said. “You have different relationships with every player you coach, and you have different experiences with them, and you take different paths with them … I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of somebody for the maturity and growth that he has displayed over the last year.”

Senior Day at Bramlage began with recognition of Victor Ojeleye and Jamar Samuels. Ojeleye walked with his mom, giving her a big hug before she wiped the tears from his face. Samuels appeared emotional as well, walking with Frank Martin’s wife Anya because his mom’s flight was delayed. His family arrived midway through the game and received a standing ovation at halftime.

The Wildcats led by seven points at the break, but they simply trampled the Cowboys coming out of halftime. After Keiton Page hit a 3-pointer, Kansas State went on a 14-0 run. Samuels sparked it with a basket, and McGruder went off for 8 straight points. Samuels scored again, and Henriquez followed his example with a layup of his own. The Wildcats led 54-36 with 15:22 remaining in the game.

6-foot-11, 270-pound junior Philip Jurick had gone down early in the first half and would never return. While Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford gave credit to Kansas State for its run at the beginning of the second half, he also acknowledged that Jurick’s injury had an impact.

“They did a good job of coming out the first two or three minutes and making a statement,” Ford said. “We didn’t respond. Our guys were down. The guys didn’t realize the extent of Philip’s injury, and once they realized that, they were down.”

C.J. Guerrero scored two straight to pull the Cowboys within 54-40, but Henriquez and McGruder quickly restored the Kansas State lead to 18 points with 11 minutes to play.

Five minutes later, the score was just slightly different, but the point spread was the same. Kansas State led 68-50 thanks to a continued effort by Samuels, who missed on all four of his attempted 3-pointers in the game but utilized the shot fake and made some impressive mid-range shots.

The crowning moment for the senior, though, came when he swished a fadeaway mid-range jumper to beat the shot clock, get fouled and make the ensuing free throw. Having given the Wildcats a 77-54 lead with 2:32 remaining, he took a seat on the bench for the last time in Bramlage.

“I watch a lot of NBA, and that’s what they do, so I just jumped into [the defender], and the ball went in,” Samuels said with a grin.

Page hit four 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Cowboys in the game early, and Guerrero picked up where he left off, scoring seven of the team’s last 11 points.

For the Wildcats, Henriquez dominated the paint, especially after freshman Marek Soucek replaced the injured Jurick. McGruder hit all four of his shots from the floor, including two 3-pointers. Henriquez scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds in yet another powerful performance.

Page played all 40 minutes and finished with 22 points and 5 rebounds. His only real help in scoring came from Guerrero, who scored 15.

A Time for Change: Samuels’ Senior Season

16 Dec

 

Jamar Samuels looks like he is rewinding. Having been airborne for a split second while contesting a shot, he comes back down, moves in the opposite direction of his dead sprint down the court and throws his hands up in the air. He tries to pull himself back, creating space between himself and the Virginia Tech player with the ball. Nevertheless, referees whistle him for going over the back on the rebound. It’s his second foul in the opening minutes of the game. He goes to the bench.

Back on the floor after the other team has put together an 8-0 run, he battles for a rebound after a teammate misses a shot. On the second chance attempt, his sneakers leave the floor and his hands meet the rim as he gets his first points of the game on a slam-dunk.

As he yells in triumph, his face is a mix of righteous fury and determination. Without further fanfare than a pump of clenched firsts, he quickly turns and heads down to the other end of the floor to play defense.

That would not always have been the case.

In his younger years, Samuels would hang onto plays. If he made a shot, he would be all caught up in that moment of success. If he made a mistake, his disappointment showed in his posture. If someone fouled him and it did not get called, he would engage in a personal, play-by-play battle with that player rather than focusing on the goals of the team. In all the scenarios, he would let one play affect subsequent ones – and that would affect the team, said Kansas State coach Frank Martin.

“To a certain extent, he was being emotionally selfish,” Martin said. “Now, he’s not allowing that to happen. Whether he makes a positive or a negative play, he remains positive and remains on-task, which then allows him to help the other guys continue to play.”

Because Samuels has been able to temper his emotional reactions, his coach has allowed him to play through mistakes in situations when he might have yanked him out of games in earlier years. Martin challenges the traditional wisdom that coaches have to let players play through mistakes.

“Not when a mistakes leads to two and three and four,” he said. “You don’t let those guys play through mistakes. Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen, I let them play through mistakes because they made mistakes, but they wouldn’t hang their head or droop their shoulders when they made one. They kept playing to make sure they don’t make two in a row. Jamar’s kind of getting to that point now.”

Samuels is a senior, so this is his last chance – his last year at Kansas State University. Is Samuels ready to be a go-to guy for the basketball team? Martin has pondered the idea before, and his answer now is different than it has been before.

“He’s matured a lot,” Martin said. “I never would have answered that question with a positive answer before. That’s nothing against him. He just wasn’t mentally ready, nor had he put in the time for me to be willing to consider that. But he’s done it now.”

The process toward that new level of maturity began this summer, Samuels says. Over the months away from classes, he added 30 pounds of muscle to his tall, sinewy frame. Though no one would describe him as bulky now, it is evident that defenders are not able to push him around like they might have in his first few years. He has been able to go strong to the basket with more success.

While Samuels said the overall improvement in his game is the most indicative of his progress, his coach and his teammates say his attitude and demeanor toward the game and the group as a whole is also completely different.

“Last year he really followed,” sophomore guard Will Spradling said. “He wasn’t a leader at all. If other people maybe did something that wasn’t right or they shouldn’t be doing, he kind of just followed in their footsteps. He wouldn’t step up and be like, ‘No, we’re going in the wrong direction. We need to be going this way.’ He’s really changed. He’s really stepped up and taken lead of the young guys and put them in the right direction, which is something he definitely didn’t do last year.”

Spradling remembers a period of practices when the team was just “dead.” Samuels energized the team by picking up the intensity and going hard against the younger players to show them the kind of competition they will face when the team’s Big 12 schedule begins in January. In particular, he introduced big-bodied freshman forward Thomas Gipson, who could teach a clinic on post moves and whom no one else can the team can effectively match up with physically in the paint, to the bruising, relentless style of play he has to learn to have success down the road.

As for why he is holding those guys accountable now, Samuels said that it is simply his time to do so.

“I’m the old guy now,” he says with a laugh. “I have to do it. I can’t be a senior and just [be] letting the guys do things wrong. I’ve got to step in and let them know what to do.”

Early in the season, though, it seemed that Samuels’ example might be anything but positive. He began the year with a three-game suspension for violating team rules. While it is unknown what rule he broke or when the infraction occurred, missing the team’s exhibition game and its first two regular season contests hardly seemed like a good start to a senior campaign.

His first press conference with the media began with an apology and an indirect request to leave his unknown indiscretions in the past.

“My actions that I did, they’re behind me now,” Samuels said. “I just want it to be behind the people of K-State. You guys mean so much to me. I’m just glad to be back now and put all that stuff behind me.”

Temporarily losing the privilege of playing and taking responsibility for the actions that caused the loss of game time, Samuels gained a new perspective. He could not sleep at night. He was thinking about how his team was struggling and he was unable to help it during games.

“Sitting on the bench with street clothes on, it sucks. I wouldn’t wish that on any college basketball player at all,” Samuels said.

After serving his suspension, Samuels immediately entered the team’s starting lineup, and he scored in double figures in the first three games in which he played. The second and third games, he earned double-doubles: 10 points and 10 rebounds against George Washington and 17 points coupled with 14 rebounds in a road game against Virginia Tech.

Martin had spoken positively about Samuels since before the season began, and while the coach is notorious for being tough on his players when they make mistakes, he is someone they all find worthy of their loyalty and trust.

Samuels’ parents have been divorced for 18 years. His father is Jamaican, so he goes back and forth between his native country and the United States, and he and Samuels rarely speak. They do not have a strong relationship like Samuels has with his mother. This season, with the departure of associate head coach Dalonte Hill, whom Samuels knew since high school, Martin has taken on that father figure role for the senior.

Among the coach’s off-court emphases are giving effort in the classroom, being a gentleman, being nice to people and showing others respect to receive respect.

He’s guided me a lot,” Samuels said. “I don’t really have anybody out here that’s an elder that I can look up to now. I really do thank Coach Martin for that.”

Before his time at Kansas State, he credits his mother Ernestine and his brothers Devin and Brandon for giving him thick skin. In a house full of boys, there was sibling rivalry galore. Every athletic competition would inevitably lead to a fight, which they all thought was pretty funny. Their mother was less amused.

Samuels did not get to see his mother at Thanksgiving this year but eagerly looked forward to visiting with her at Kansas State’s road game against Virginia Tech. She follows his basketball career closely. He remembers one game in particular during his freshman year when her feedback was extensive after he scored just two points.

“She pretty much gave me a whole game plan of what I did, what I didn’t do, what I should’ve done, and I’m just on the phone, ‘Yeah Mom, okay Mom,’” Samuels said. “And then I actually looked at the tape, and she was actually right. She’s always been tough on me, but tough love’s always come around in my family.”

Between her tough love and that of Martin, Samuels indeed looks and sounds much more like an adult than he did two years ago. He is still a funny guy, a bit of a quote machine with that easygoing smile and joyful sincerity in his brown eyes. There is the impression, though, of some sort of deeper understanding and purpose.

“I’m still the same person off the court,” Samuels said. “I just got a little more wiser. I’m still the same person.”

Yet his answer to another question might belie that just a bit, albeit unintentionally. Asked to describe himself to someone who does not know him, he does not talk about his laidback nature, his class clown personality or his work ethic. The attribute he chooses to mention is not what one might expect.

“I’m very caring,” he said. “Anybody that knows me knows that I really care about them. If you’re part of my team, you’ll always have me. Forever.”

On the court, though, Samuels has just these next few months. Martin said the senior’s presence there stabilizes a youthful team because of his understanding of the system and his experience with the speed of the game. Spradling describes his elder as a complete player, one who blocks shots, brings intensity and scores.

In short?

“Jamar’s everything.”

Putting on a Show: The Exhibition Game

6 Nov

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

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

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

Jamar Samuels suspended for first three games

6 Nov

Kansas State issued a press release that senior forward Jamar Samuels has been suspended for the first three games of the season for violating team rules. The suspension will encompass the exhibition game against Fort Hays State on Nov. 6, the season opener against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11, and the second regular season game against Loyola on Nov. 14.

Here is coach Frank Martin’s statement from the press release:

“Jamar understands that student-athletes at K-State have expectations and that there are consequences when you don’t live up to those expectations. However, I have been pleased with how he has handled his obligations since this setback and I expect this to continue.”

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!