THE MORNING AFTER… Missouri, Western Illinois

Ron Prince said yesterday he felt Missouri was the best team K-State had played all year. He knows his team better than I do, without a doubt, but I remain convinced Kansas is better than Missouri.

Anyway, that’s the only definitive conclusion I reached based on yesterday’s football events. What more needs to be said? This program is in need of something, a jolt of some kind. Right now, things have gotten stale, which is kind of odd considering Prince’s relative newness.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the basketball team. I watched the first half and listened to the second half on the radio. For the people concerned about how the Wildcats don’t do this or don’t do that, all I can say is relax. None of this is lost on Frank Martin, who was bothered immensely by last night’s performance. He’ll get it corrected, if it even needs to be corrected.

Here’s my theory – I believe, especially with young kids like this, there is a tendency to play to the level of the competition. Without a doubt, these kids are winners, and they’re competitors. They’re also 18 or 19 years old. It’s going to be difficult to get up for the Pittsburg State Gorillas and Western Illinois Leathernecks of the world. It’s not the way it should be, but it’s the way it is. There isn’t enough of a strong, veteran presence on the court – because David Hoskins is still sidelined – to maintain the necessary focus needed for 40 minutes.

My guess is, wait until Orlando. This group of kids, loosely labeled a team right now, will come together and surprise folks. We saw it a little last year in Las Vegas, and really, I expect the same type of effort. I believe, with this group and especially Mike Beasley, the higher the stakes, the better the performance.

I saw nothing last night to alter my stance that Ron Anderson is going to be a player. He can play – he just needs to become more fluid, a better athlete. That will come under the direction of Scott Greenawalt. The guards will knock down shots – they’re not as bad of shooters as we saw last night and they’re not as good as we witnessed in the season opener, either. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

For some reason, there is some hesitancy by some fans to embrace this team as something special. Maybe it’s the Wooldrigde effect, or perhaps a Huggins hangover. I don’t know. But this team, already, is drastically different. For instance, K-State can get a basket virtually any time it needs one – if the Wildcats can deliver an entry pass to a double-teamed Beasley. He’s simply too good for this level – it had to be said.

As for Bill Walker, don’t worry about him. He’s trying to find his way back. I’m certain the coaches are encouraging him to be ultra-aggressive in the first half, knowing that Beasley is going to get his points whether K-State runs anything for him or not. Remember, this has to be difficult for Walker, who, as we’ve been told, is all about winning but hasn’t had a chance to really show what he can do for what? Two years now? He’s accustomed to playing at a high level, but that hasn’t quite happened yet. He’s playing Robin to Beasley’s Batman, and I’m certain Walker is in contact with his buddy O.J. Mayo, easily the most hyped freshman in this year’s stellar class, and all Mayo did in his debut was score 32 points.

Granted, the Trojans lost. Walker and the Wildcats haven’t lost yet, and I don’t see that happening this week in Orlando, either. Call it blind faith, but when you have the best player on the court every night in college basketball, you’re usually in a good place to start. It just takes the rest of the guys around him to stop watching and start playing, Walker included.

To the rest of the Wildcats, the message is: get yours. Beasley has certainly gotten his and will continue to do so. I suspect the best of the Wildcats will be on display this week, and what better time than on the national stage? Wait and see…