Tag Archives: Kansas State men’s basketball

Martin disappointed with turnovers, defense

11 Jan

Frank Martin’s broad frame slumped over the elevated table in the press conference room after the Wildcats lost to the Bears. His team only scored one field goal in the final five minutes of the game, and disappointment – in the form of disbelief and disgust – was evident on the coach’s face.

“I respect the hell out of our players, but for us to be in a place where we’re fighting to protect our own court, and to not close out this game because of a comedy of plays, it’s embarrassing,” he said.

The Wildcats led by four points with 3:47 left when a pair of free throws by Brady Heslip pulled the Bears within two points, 71-69. In the following 30 seconds, Quincy Acy stole the ball from freshman guard Angel Rodriguez twice. Both instances resulted in points, and just like that the Wildcats trailed. With two minutes to play, a layup by Rodney McGruder pinched Baylor’s advantage to just one point, 74-73. His bucket would be the last field goal Kansas State made in the game, as both he and freshman forward Thomas Gipson turned the ball over in the short time before the clock expired.

The bright spot for the Wildcats was that McGruder scored a career-high 30 points in the game on 10-of-14 shooting. He was perfect from the foul line, making 8 of 8 attempts. He grabbed 6 rebounds, dished 3 assists and only turned the ball over once.

“There was a lot of focus on him,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “He’s a heck of a player and did a heck of a job all night long. We didn’t have a lot of answers for him.”

Early in the game, the Wildcats amassed a double-digit lead, but their 20 turnovers allowed the Bears to go on 18-4 runs in both the first and second halves. Baylor scored 30 of its 75 points – 40 percent – off of Kansas State giveaways.

“When they made their runs is when we didn’t play offense,” said sophomore guard Will Spradling. “We turned it over a lot more than what we have lately, and that’s something we can’t do.”

While the turnovers obviously bothered Martin, his team’s defensive performance left a sour taste in his mouth as well. It seemed like Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez contained Baylor’s Perry Jones III fairly well early on, when they worked against his post-up moves, but he gave them trouble in transition and also made shots a little farther from the basket as the game continued. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Quincy Acy and Brady Heslip each had 13 points, and 5’10” guard Pierre Jackson scored 10 points and distributed a mind-boggling 11 assists.

Martin said his team talked about and worked on ball screen defense in preparation for the Bears, but it did not work out as he had hoped.

“Our ball screen defense was pathetic,” Martin said. “Never once did we have two guys on the same page guarding the ball screen, and that’s frustrating because we spent time on it. We talked about it. If you can’t play ball screen defense against Baylor, you’re going to have a tough time.”

While the combination of last week’s game against the Jayhawks and yesterday’s game against the Bears made Martin unhappy, he had a realistic, workmanlike take on what lies ahead for his team.

“We’re good enough to beat them, and obviously we haven’t done it two out of three times,” Martin said. “It’s disappointing we haven’t gotten it done, but [the conference season is] 18 games. We’re three games in.”

Recovering from Loss No. 1

10 Dec

Frank Martin is adamant that losing is not necessary to learning. Nevertheless, that’s something the Wildcats have to do going into Sunday’s game against North Florida unless they want one loss to become two losses.

The Ospreys (5-4, 1-0) should bring some serious momentum and confidence to Bramlage Coliseum. While the mention of this opponent will not strike fear into the hearts of most Big 12 fans, maybe it should. The the Ospreys skidded to a 1-4 start to their season, but among those first five teams they played were three Top 25 teams: Alabama, Florida and Ohio State. North Florida lost to those teams badly, but I’m a believer in the saying that you get better by competing against people who are better than you. Since an 85-50 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 21, the Ospreys have won four straight.

Looking at the Ospreys’ roster, here’s what stands out. First of all, every single guy is either from Florida or Georgia. Secondly, there are two 6’7″ players and none taller. Add the listed weights in, and it appears on paper that this team does not have anyone bigger than Kansas State’s Jamar Samuels. Since the Wildcats obviously have several guys bigger than that – Jordan Henriquez, Thomas Gipson, Adrian Diaz – the post could be a major advantage for them.

This is an ideal game for Kansas State, who is coming off a killer loss to West Virginia in a de facto home game in Wichita. Returning to Bramlage with new motivation should allow the Wildcats to return to their winning ways.

A Look at Next Year’s Roster: The New Guys

12 May

Six players have signed on for the 2011-2012 version of the Kansas State Wildcats. Since it seems a little bogus to evaluate players despite not having seen them play, we’ll stick to a brief rundown of each recruit.

Omari Lawrence (Bronx, N.Y./St. John’s) The team’s only Division I transfer comes to Kansas State as a high school star who struggled during his first year in college. The roster at St. John’s included two of his childhood friends from his hometown Bronx. In an article by NYDailyNews.com, Lawrence said that while he will miss his friends, he just needs to get away and get a fresh start. A 6’4″ 220-pound guard, Lawrence will compete for a meaningful role on the Wildcat roster, and if he works hard his odds may be pretty decent, especially since two would-be contenders for guard spots, Nick Russell and Juevol Myles, recently announced they would be transferring.

Jeremy Jones (Chicago, Ill./Seward County [Kan.] Community College) Kansas State will be Jones’ third stop in his college career. He played his freshman season at Western Texas College, averaging 13.4 points per game, and his second at Seward County Community College, where he averaged 18.6 per game and 4.5 assists per game. He’ll be yet another option at guard for the Wildcats, but at 6’2″ and 165 pounds, he may need to bulk up a little to be able to withstand the physicality of Big 12 play. Obviously that’s a matter the coaches and trainer will figure out, and I’m sure they will do so every so competently.

James Watson (Atoka, Okla./Cowley [Kan.] College) Watson will be one of the Wildcats’ options to fill the holes in the frontcourt. The 6’8″ 225-pound forward spent two seasons at Washington State, redshirting the first and playing the second, before transferring to Cowley College and putting up 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Right now the only true forwards on Kansas State’s squad are Jamar Samuels, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, Victor Ojeleye and Nino Williams. The latter two have not seen much playing time. It will be interesting to see how much of a post presence the Wildcats will have this season, as that will play a part in whether Kansas State reverts to its big-man-dominated box-and-one system or its more recent pinch-post offense, which requires more movement.

Angel Rodriguez (Miami, Fla./Krop) Floridahoops.com ranked the 5’1″ 165-pound guard as the fourth-best in the state. He was averaging 23 points per game and 6 assists per game before his team’s season was abruptly terminated because one player (a 19-year-old from the Bahamas) was ineligible. His coach was Shakey Rodriguez (no relation), who is well-known in Florida high school basketball and who mentored Kansas State coach Frank Martin.

Thomas Gipson (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) Another forward option for Kansas State will be the 6’7″ 240-pound Gipson. ESPN’s evaluation calls him a “space-eater” who knows how to score over taller and more athletic forwards and has good footwork on both sides of the basket.

Adrian Diaz (Miami, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes) The 7’0″ 205-pound Diaz was the first recruit in Kansas State’s 2011 class, signing with the Wildcats in August of 2010 before even visiting the campus, according to ESPN. One evaluation of Diaz mentioned his strengths as being able to run the floor well and having a solid shot out to 15 feet.

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!

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.

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.