Tag Archives: Rodney McGruder

Another underrated team, another Big 12 title

10 Mar

Is there an echo in here?

If the following story line sounds familiar, it is. You just heard it a few months ago.

“Picked to finish in the middle of the pack this year, the Wildcats surprised everyone by not just putting together a successful season but by claiming a share of the Big 12 title.”

The basketball team, predicted to finish fifth, at the very bottom of the top half of the league, won 25 games after an offseason coaching change that initially left many fans dissatisfied. Even though coach Bruce Weber and the Wildcats lost Saturday at No. 13 Oklahoma State, they still ended up with a piece of the championship when No. 4 Kansas suffered its worst loss in seven years to unranked Baylor in Waco.

The Kansas State football team, which ended the season 11-2, had been predicted to finish sixth. In retrospect, it is hard to believe people thought that the team would straggle into a position in the bottom half of the league. Instead, the Wildcats felled mighty Bob Stoops and ranked Oklahoma in normally unassailable Norman and went on to contend for the national championship.

Does it bother Kansas State players that media outlets often ignore them? A little, but it is nothing new, said junior guard Will Spradling, who played on Saturday despite a bruised sternum.

“We’re not getting the type of respect that we should, but that’s something K-State’s dealt with in every sport, every year,” Spradling said. “The football team didn’t get much respect this year until they got the No. 1 spot, and they still weren’t getting much respect at the end of the year.

“K-State’s just – athletically they’re kind of looked down upon, and teams lately have really been rejuvenating the program,” he added.

Outsiders might not have expected the basketball team to contend for a Big 12 title, but senior Martavious Irving knew the opportunity was there.

“When they won it, that’s the first thing I thought about,” Irving said. “We’re the next major sport at the school, so it’s pressure and we’re pretty good, even though we’ve got a new coaching staff, I was thinking, ‘Now it’s kind of like we’ve got to win it too.'”

Win it they did. It is the first Big 12 title in basketball for Kansas State since 1977. Weber was 20 years old.

As senior Rodney McGruder gazed up at the championship banner on the wall of the gym in the Wildcats’ new basketball practice facility, he remarked how long ago it was – more than a decade before he was even born. He interpreted the length of time since a Big 12 title as a chance for this year’s team to accomplish something great.

Even with the end of the regular season still a few weeks old, senior Jordan Henriquez looked at the chance to win a championship not just as a crowning accomplishment but as the beginning of a new tradition that his younger teammates can continue.

“If we win the Big 12 championship, I want those guys to keep it going,” Henriquez said. “If Kansas can win nine or 10 in a row, why can’t K-State?”

 

 

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No. 10 Kansas State handles Baylor 81-61

16 Feb

Coming off a blowout loss in Allen Fieldhouse against a motivated Kansas team that had lost three straight games for the first time since 2007, No. 10 Kansas State played some of its best basketball all season in an 81-61 victory over Baylor in Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats sizzled from beyond the arc, hitting 11 3s, tied for the most this season. The last time that happened? Against Lamar back in November. Shane Southwell hit six of those 3s, shooting 66.7 percent from long range.

As good as Southwell was, his performance did not top the list. That distinction went to Angel Rodriguez, who scored 22 points and dished 10 assists. Jordan Henriquez also had a huge game, chipping in 10 points and 10 rebounds and looking almost completely recovered from the “hands of stone” syndrome that had plagued him in recent games.

The Wildcats’ defensive effort also deserved mention. Kansas State forced 19 turnovers and scored 22 points off the Bears’ mistakes. Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, who was leading the Big 12 in scoring with 18.9 points per game, came away with just seven points.

Baylor fought to within 43-41 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining, but Kansas State slammed the door shut. 

“We got into the huddle and the first thing that we said was that they punched us, and we have to punch them back,” Rodriguez said. “We responded as a team and started getting shout outs and made positive plays on the offensive end, which got us going. It is hard when you punch somebody and they punch you back. It brings you down, and we brought them down, and it was hard for them to make a run on us.”

Kansas State stayed vigilant offensively and got stops. After mediocre performances on both ends early in the week, the Wildcats rebounded in impressive fashion on Saturday.

Numbers to Note: KSU/OU

20 Jan

9 assists for Angel Rodriguez

Angel Rodriguez’s contribution presents a great opportunity to talk about what he and Martavious Irving bring to the Wildcats. They don’t always hang a ton of points on the board, but missing the duo for a pair of games before Big 12 play began showed what the team looks like without them. Suffice it to say that the Wildcats are much better off when both are available. Both were key on Saturday in forcing 16 Oklahoma turnovers, which Kansas State converted into 26 points.

“I thought our pressure would hurt them,” coach Bruce Weber said. “I thought Angel and Tay really set the tempo and really bothered their guards. We got on the floor.”

Rodriguez has looked out of control now and then, sometimes going to the rim too quickly instead of running the offense, sometimes shooting with a bit too much abandon. These days, he just looks a little more steady, a little more relaxed.

“We told him you don’t always have to score,” Weber said. “Make the good pass, the good play. I think he’s starting to buy into that a little bit.”

 

20 second-chance points for Oklahoma

The Wildcats cannot ever allow that again. If the Sooners had not committed nearly a dozen turnovers in the first half, their domination on the boards could have ended Kansas State. As anybody who follows basketball knows, it is hard to overstate the importance of rebounding. It is all about opportunities: each offensive rebound grabbed is another opportunity for your team to score, and each defensive rebound is another opportunity denied your opponent. Huge, huge, huge, huge. The Wildcats will have to keep opponents from getting multiple shots in possessions if they want any shot at challenging for the Big 12 title.

Weber said the way Oklahoma draws the forwards away from the basket makes rebounding against the Sooners challenging because the job then falls to the guards.

“We talked about scramble rebounds and nose for the ball before the game, and the scramble rebounds were going to come because they get you spread out,” Weber said. “You’ve got to rotate, you’ve got to get to their bigs on different things, so now you’ve got to help, now you’ve got to rotate and scramble. We did not do a very good job on that. They killed us on the boards.”

 

10 from long range by Kansas State

Listening to Oklahoma coach – and former Kansas State coach – Lon Kruger after the game, you got the impression that he did not expect the Wildcats to drain quite so many 3s. Maybe no one expected it, but it certainly makes you wonder what all this team is capable of when it really hits its stride. Rodney McGruder made four of those 3s – three coming right in a row – and Will Spradling made three, while Shane Southwell made two and Angel Rodriguez added one.

The offensive production also hints at an increasingly solid grasp by the players of first-year Kansas State coach Bruce Weber’s offense.

“In our offense, any given night anybody can have a big night because it really just kind of lets anybody get the flow of it, so anybody can get hot,” Spradling said, “and it’s nice that we didn’t need to rely on that one person that was hot at the end of the game because we had so many players that were playing well and shooting it well.”

Besides understanding the new system, players have started to believe in it.

“Mentalities have changed around the locker room,” McGruder said. “We’re really focused and things like that. When everyone buys into what coach is preaching to us, then I think we can be very good, and that’s what everyone’s doing. Just from a mental aspect, Everyone’s just buying in. That’s what’s key.”

Bruce Weber: History, Reactions, Updates, Etc.

2 Apr

About a dozen students gathered on the lawn of Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to protest Kansas State’s hiring of Bruce Weber as the next head basketball coach.

One student held a sign that read, “Why you do hate us John Currie?”

Others sported purple headbands inscribed, “Gott Lieb?” – an endorsement of ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb as a candidate and a play on the popular “Got Milk?” advertising campaign. Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State basketball player, expressed interest in the head coaching position to newspapers and radio stations, and even though he has no coaching experience, his thorough plan and salesmanship intrigued fans.

Not shockingly, the administration hired someone with more of a history: Weber, a smiling, gray-haired gentleman many remember for taking Illinois to the national championship in 2005 but whose most recent team finished with just six wins in the Big 10 this season. Which type of results will Weber produce for the Wildcats is an intriguing question.

***

The initial response from fans has not been particularly optimistic, but few people could have replaced as popular and successful a coach as Frank Martin – and most of those coaches show no signs of being available for hire.

Weber is not daunted, however. His priority is winning over the players. He spoke with both 1350AM in Manhattan and 810 WHB in Kansas City about building relationships with one set of people whose opinions matter most.

“The big key is that I get them to trust me and respect me and buy into it,” Weber said. “If you can get your best player to buy in and be your best leader and hardest worker, it makes it so much easier for you as a coach.”

After talking to next year’s seniors Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez, Weber also had conversations with this season’s freshmen. He noted the importance of Angel Rodriguez, who played point guard for Kansas State much of last season. With such conversations, the coach said he makes his pitch but does not press for a commitment.

“I don’t bring it up, to be honest,” Weber said. “I just say, ‘This is what we’re about. We want you here.’”

At this point, he believes all the players will stay. He has done individual workouts with everyone except McGruder and Rodriguez, who will be unable to practice for two to three weeks because of injuries. Because getting to know players is one of Weber’s top priorities, changing public perception is on the back burner.

“I realize I can’t win all the fans over,” Weber said. “I have to do it with a good product, and that starts with the players. That’s the most important thing.”

Asked about previous problems within the program under Martin, Weber responded with the proper amount of ambiguity and proceeded to compliment his predecessor.

“He did them his way – sometimes it isn’t always the most positive thing,” he said. “He created a culture of toughness and defense, and hopefully we can play off that.”

***

The other priority of Weber in this time is putting together a coaching staff. Weber said he invited Martin’s associate head coach Brad Underwood to stay at Kansas State as part of the new staff, but Underwood told him Saturday morning that he thought he would be going with Martin to South Carolina. Weber said Underwood gave him insight regarding the program and the players, and Weber left the door open in case Underwood had a change of heart.

Weber has said he is working to finalize a deal with Chris Lowery, who coached under Weber at Southern Illinois and followed him to Illinois before returning to become the head coach for Southern Illinois, where he led the program for eight seasons before being fired after the Salukis went 8-23 in 2011-12.

***

Weber has been in the business for 33 years. His first gig as an assistant, at Western Kentucky, came in 1979-80. For the next 18 seasons he worked as an assistant at Purdue.

In Weber’s first year as a head coach at Southern Illinois, the team went 15-12 and tied for a fifth-place conference finish. In his fifth and final season there, Weber guided the team to a 24-7 record and first-place finish in its league.

Replacing Bill Self at Illinois, Weber coached nine seasons there. In seven of those, the team won at least 20 games.

The Fighting Illini struggled in 2011-2012, going 17-15 and 6-12 in league play to finish tied for ninth in the conference. Weber cited the team’s youth (six freshman, one returning starter) as well as changes in the administration (new university president, new athletic director) as potential reasons for the season that was his second-worst in nine years at Illinois and resulted in the termination of his contract there.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Weber said. “You learn a lot about yourself, and you learn a lot about who your friends are. So many people have reached out to myself and my wife … and just said how much they appreciate and respect and believe in what [we’ve] done.”

As for what he learned from his time at Illinois – and presumably this last season in particular – Weber said that trying to please everybody is impossible, so there is only one manner in which to proceed.

“Do it your way,” Weber said. “And that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Time to go on the offensive

16 Mar

I wrote in my last post that defense would be more essential than offense for the Wildcats to defeat Southern Miss on Thursday afternoon. Season statistics indicated that would be the case, and game statistics confirmed the trend yesterday; the Golden Eagles shot just 36.7 percent from the floor, and of course the Wildcats came away with another win.

While Kansas State probably cannot take all the credit for that Southern Miss statistic, it certainly shows you my point: as goes the Wildcats’ defense, so go the Wildcats.

The Wildcats are 16-4 this season when their defense holds opponents between 50 and 69 points. Similarly, they are 21-6 when opponents make less than 50 percent of their shots.

Still, Kansas State will need more offensive variety to defeat Syracuse on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. Three players scored in double figures on Thursday, and no one else scored more than five points.

Rodney McGruder carried the team with his 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Jordan Henriquez scored 15 points, blocked 6 shots and snagged 9 rebounds. Angel Rodriguez contributed 13 points and four assists, though he also had three turnovers. Those three guys were the only ones who scored more than five points.

Jamar Samuels scored just one point. Point guard Will Spradling cashed in on just one basket and only attempted four the whole game. Martavious Irving scored four points, and Thomas Gipson had five.

In fairness, Samuels did have eight rebounds and three assists, so while he did not ever get a field goal, he did contribute in other ways. It is disappointing to see a senior not make more of an impact on the scoreboard, though, so it will be interesting to see what he does in this next game against Syracuse.

Looking at the stat sheet, there is not much redemption for Spradling. He never turned the ball over, but in 37 minutes he only had one assist. Then again, everyone knows how hard he works, and his fundamentals are solid, and he is a smart defender. Obviously, coach Frank Martin would not have Spradling – or anyone else – on the floor unless he believed it would benefit the team, and since Martin is a coach and I am not, I will defer to his judgment for now.

All that said, my guess is that you must have at least four guys in double figures to beat Syracuse. I haven’t seen the Orange play much this season, but the team is a No. 1 seed for a reason. I don’t think it will be beaten by three players scoring 10-plus and a few other guys scoring five or fewer points. Even if the Wildcats end with three players in double figures and three more with seven, eight or nine points, they might be okay.

McGruder and Henriquez have been the most consistent recently from a scoring perspective, but it will take more than those two to put away Syracuse.

Wildcats knock off Bears 57-56

18 Feb

Back on Jan. 10, Baylor dealt the Wildcats a crushing loss on their home court. On Saturday afternoon, Kansas State returned the favor in Waco with a 57-56 upset over the No. 9 Bears.

It was an R&R special: a little revenge against Baylor, and a little redemption for freshman Angel Rodriguez, who against Kansas went 0-8 from the field with 7 turnovers.

Undaunted, Rodriguez bounced back against Baylor and led his team with 15 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds in a Big 12 road win that many say will punch the team’s ticket to the NCAA tournament.

“He’s a fighter,” coach Frank Martin said. “He’s a gutsy kid. He’s got a lot of confidence.”

Rodney McGruder also scored 15 points, and Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Henriquez turned the ball over just once and proved to be a major disruption to the Baylor offense in the paint. His final basket, on a feed from Rodriguez, sealed the Kansas State victory and moved the Wildcats to 18-8 on the season and 7-7 in Big 12 play.

“Jordan went through that little stretch where obviously I did what I had to do to try to get his attention, and he’s responded real well,” Martin said. “He’s a good player. He’s worked so hard to make himself a young man that can impact our game in a positive way.”

The Wildcats fought through a deficit for much of the first half before finally taking a lead two minutes before the break, but they went down early in the second half when they lost track of guard Brady Heslip, who proceeded to wreak havoc from beyond the arc.

Heslip quickly reversed the Wildcats’ 32-28 halftime lead by hitting three 3-pointers in the first couple minutes of the second half to give the Bears a 39-35 advantage.

Jamar Samuels cut the lead to one point with a 3-pointer of his own. The teams traded baskets fairly consistently until Kansas State led 46-45 with 9:25 left in the game.

Samuels grabbed a rebound, but Pierre Jackson grabbed it and yanked it out of Samuels’ hands. Samuels grabbed at the ball – and consequently, Jackson – and apparently said something after referees called the foul on him, so he was also slapped with a technical.

Heslip made both the technical foul free throws, and a made jumper by Pierre Jackson on the Bears’ next possession gave them a 49-46 lead.

From there, Kansas State went on a 9-2 run to gain a 55-51 lead with three minutes to play.

“Our rule is anytime the ball goes in the middle of the zone, you shoot it or pass it. You don’t dribble it,” Martin said. “I thought for the most part we did a good job of attacking their zone. We didn’t make a lot of shots, but we made enough.”

Baylor scored back-to-back baskets to take a 56-55 lead, but Rodriguez got the ball to Henriquez for a score that would be the game-winner.

In the first half Baylor jumped out to an 8-2 lead thanks to a variety of scoring: layups from Jackson and Heslip, two free throws from Quincy Miller and a dunk by Quincy Acy. Kansas State caught up before too long as Henriquez employed his face-up jumper and Rodriguez continued to charge into the lane and get layups.

From there, the Bears ran out to an 18-9 lead. As McGruder found a rhythm, though, so did the Wildcats. Starting with his first basket at the 8:39 mark, McGruder added 10 points down the stretch, scoring as many points himself as the Baylor offense did from that point on. Kansas State outscored the Bears 23-10 in nearly 9 minutes between McGruder’s initial score and halftime.

It took awhile for Kansas State to overtake the home team, however. The Wildcats struggled to get rebounds and find an offensive groove early, but  a 3-pointer by McGruder gave Kansas State its first lead of the game, 25-24, with 2:03 to go before halftime.

A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Samuels – his first field goal of the game – gave the Wildcats a 4-point advantage heading into the locker room.

Next up for the Wildcats is No. 3 Missouri in Columbia.

Constantly pestered about the implications of upcoming games on Kansas State’s NCAA tournament hopes, Martin said the team focuses on the next game and nothing more. That mentality, at least on Saturday, resulted in just the ninth road win over a top 10 team in program history.

“We don’t change our approach,” Martin said. “At the end of the day, you can’t do those things unless you’ve got kids who believe in the message, because they’re got to be able to execute it and execute it at 100 miles per hour.”

Wildcats “own Texas” again, 84-80

19 Jan

MANHATTAN, Kan. – On a Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats escaped with an 84-80 win over Texas despite missing 7 of 10 free throws in the last minute and 14 seconds of the game.

“We had a chance to win it,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We’ve played enough games now we should be able to handle it.”

Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 33 points in the game. Jamar Samuels scored 14, and Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling each added 11.

The penetration of the lane by guards and persistence of the big men gave the Wildcats 39 opportunities at the foul line. Incredibly, taking advantage of just 21 of those would be enough.

For Texas, J’Covan Brown – who had been leading the league in scoring – got off to a slow start, scoring just five points in the first half before coming alive in the second to finish with 22.

Sheldon McClellan provided a steadier presence throughout the game and ended up with 19 points. Brown made a 3-pointer and a layup to bring the Longhorns within three points with 30 seconds left, but it would not be enough.

“They simply overpowered us inside,” Barnes said. “Not only their post guys, but their guards were able to get pretty deep with us.”

The Wildcats did not necessarily shoot out of the gate to start the game, but nine minutes into the first half, Kansas State went on an 11-0 run that began with three consecutive 3-pointers – two from McGruder from the baseline in front of the band, and another from Spradling on the opposite side. The treys gave the Wildcats a 29-18 lead.

Myck Kabongo briefly interrupted the Wildcats’ momentum with an old-fashioned three-point play, but a 3-pointer from Samuels and acrobatic layup by Martavious Irving in traffic gave Kansas State a 15-point advantage.

Another basket by Kabongo cut the Wildcats’ lead to 36-23, and Clint Chapman turned aggressive post play into seven straight points with two buckets and three free throws. After an outside shot by McClellan, Texas trailed only 36-32 with four minutes to play in the half.

Four consecutive missed free throws for the Wildcats – two by Victor Ojeleye and one each by Angel Rodriguez and Samuels – stilted the offense and gave way to eight unanswered points by the Longhorns, and Texas took a 40-38 lead.

The Wildcats would reclaim the lead before halftime, but even with only five points from Brown, the Longhorns went into halftime down just one point, 43-42.

McGruder, who scored the Wildcats’ first basket and totaled 16 points in the first half, got Kansas State off to a good start in the second half as well. His drives into the lane yielded five points on six free throw attempts early, creating a six-point separation in favor of Kansas State.

Down the stretch, Texas cut the lead to two points on five occasions before the midpoint of the second half, but Kansas State answered each time, increasing the deficit to four nearly every time it scored.

McGruder captained the Wildcats’ charge to pull away from the Longhorns with a bucket that would give him 29 points with six minutes to play. Thomas Gipson went strong to the rim and collected a free throw and a bucket on consecutive possessions to give Kansas State a 75-68 lead with 3:51 to play.

Free throws by Alexis Wangmene cut the gap to five points, but Texas had no answers defensively, and a free throw by Irving on one possession and a bucket by him on the following one gave Kansas State an 80-73 lead with 1:14 to play.

While Brown would get a few shots to go at the end, Martin seemed happy with his team’s defensive effort overall.

“I was pretty pleased how we stuck to our disciplines down the stretch,” he said. “We ran offense, and we got the right guys to the foul line.”

With the win, the Wildcats moved to 13-4 and 2-3 in Big 12 play. In their first three conference games, they played three Top 25 teams.

 

Overtime again for the Wildcats: Bramlage edition

11 Dec

Another nonconference opponent that Big 12 teams are expected to beat, another win that was much too close for comfort. The Wildcats triumphed 79-68 on Sunday afternoon, but North Florida did not make it easy, scoring a bucket at the end of regulation to send it into overtime at 60-60.

Kansas State coach Frank Martin said the selfishness and lethargy he sees from his team worries him more than the small margin of victory.
“I’m not concerned with the final score; that’s irrelevant to me,” Martin said. “I’m concerned on how we do our jobs _ guys being on the same page, how you go out and play.”

275-pound freshman force Thomas Gipson led the team with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jamar Samuels, Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder also scored in double figures. For the Ospreys, Jimmy Williams and Parker Smith scored 13 each, while Jeron Granberry got 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

Kansas State had led the entire game when Williams scored back-to-back fast break baskets to put North Florida up 40-37 with 12:37 left to play. A few minutes and consecutive three-pointers by Granberry later, it was 49-40 Ospreys.

The Wildcats would not regain the lead until under three minutes remained, when they pulled ahead 57-55 on free throws from Samuels.

When Spradling drilled a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in regulation, it looked like it would ice the game 60-58. Williams made sure it did not, scoring a 2-point basket to send it to overtime, where the Wildcats eventually won by double-digits.

Kansas State got off to a 12-4 start but let the Ospreys back into the game. Spradling said the Wildcats cannot do that down the road.

“When we get up like that, we need to just bury teams,” Spradling said. “Once we get leads, we like to relax and let teams back in the game. We can’t be doing that, especially when Big 12 comes, because if we do, we’re going to be the team getting buried.”

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.


Nice Numbers from Game 3

22 Nov

The Wildcats’ 92-50 blowout of Maryland Eastern Shore turned into a tale of two halves for both teams.

The Hawks (1-4) shot 41.7% from the floor, 50% from 3-pt range and 66.7% from the free throw line in the first half. In the second half, those numbers decreased to 32.1% from the floor, 31.8% from 3-pt range and 47.4 from the charity stripe.

For the Wildcats (3-0), the opposite occurred. Kansas State shot 37.9% from the floor, 35.7% from beyond the arc and 75% from the free throw line. In the second half, they stepped on the gas and shot 65.6% from the floor, 50% from 3-pt range and 81.8% from the line.

“The last five, six minutes of the first half, I thought we started to play more like we were capable of playing,” said coach Frank Martin. “They made a couple hard shots in the first half. They weren’t going to keep shooting the ball at that clip. They were controlling the tempo of the game because they were attacking us and we were just reeling. We weren’t where we needed to be.”

The Wildcats began the second half with a 28-6 run and continued to steamroll the Hawks with a separate stretch of 16 consecutive points.

“Towards the end of the half I think we started speeding the game up a little, and then we came out of the gate in the second half,” Martin said. “It was fun. I don’t think I called a play the first 10 minutes of the second half. We just played. We did what we do in practice. We went out there and attacked and played and shared the ball and, to our guys’ credit, when they had opportunities, they made shots.”

Though Martin, Jamar Samuels and Martavious Irving did not look particularly enthused after the win, numerically there was much to admire.

The Wildcats outrebounded the Hawks 44-28, and they committed only 9 turnovers compared to the opponents’ 18.

Thomas Gipson, Irving, Rodney McGruder, Will Spradling and Shane Southwell combined for 18 assists and just 2 turnovers. Gipson led the team in scoring (13) and rebounding (9). In Samuels’ first game back after a three-game suspension, he scored 12 points on 7-of-9 foul shooting but was just 2-of-8 from the floor with 3 rebounds. Both Irving and McGruder added 11 points and 4 assists each.

Also, Jeremy Jones made good on his 9 minutes of playing time and went 4-4 from the floor to score 8 points.