Tag Archives: Ricardo Ratliffe

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.

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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.