Monthly Archives: February 2008

Must be contest time

OK, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Since I’m banned from making predictions – thanks, Fatima – I’m soliticing yours. I want to know who wins tomorrow’s game and what the score will be. In case of a tie, the tiebreaker is the number of points Jacob Pullen scores.

Got it? Winner, score, Jake’s points.

My parents are in town. My Dad is on the hunt for some K-State gear. We’ll get it squared away. If anyone is going to Allen Fieldhouse and wants to meet him, holler at me.

Forum Friday: Being a K-State fan…

I’m not sure how any of this is going to work, but hey, it’s the Interwebs. Weirder stuff is being done elsewhere every day.

This, folks, is Forum Friday (trademark pending). I want Fridays to be about you, which is why the heavy lifting today is coming from the readers. Two weeks ago, I asked for submissions of why you should be chosen for this weekly endeavor. I received about 20-25 replies, which was nice. Some were too long (yosh). Others were hysterical yet somehow inappropriate (Simpson Sampson). Some were bribes (thanks, Richard) while others were haikus (icecoldchickenwing). And Pete’s passion was impressive — almost as impressive as the growing list of message boards where he has been banned.

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I GOT FIVE ON IT – Bob Lutz

This man is a trip. He kills me. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but I finally asked him. He agreed, and The Eagle’s sports columnist breezed through some questions for his favorite fan base:

1. Why do people get the impression you hate Kansas State? You love KU, don’t you?

Hate? Love? These are very strong emotions. Everybody knows I have no emotion. I simply judge the sports world from a stoic ivory tower and pass down judgments that are, usually, without fault. Can an ivory tower be stoic? Sorry, sometimes my own writing distracts me. Anyway, back to your question. My father whipped me with a purple belt when I was young, so maybe that has something to do with my “hatred.” There were now crimson and blue belts in our house. This is all deeply psychological and, honestly, I’m not comfortable with self-examination. The bottom line is that I’m a sports columnist who writes about my many, many opinions. Everybody has opinions; I get to share mine in a newspaper. I’m sure that annoys people. Hell, it annoys me sometimes. But I have no hatred or love for Kansas State. Ditto for Kansas. And Wichita State. And Delaware State. The only team I have “love” for is the St. Louis Cardinals, and I have a really strong feeling they’re going to test that love this summer. I’m equally loathed by Wichita State fans. And KU fans are just too cool to really care that much about what a columnist in Wichita has to say.

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Joe Lunardi says…

Speaking on an ESPN teleconference all, the so-called bracketologist said the “last 12″ criteria the NCAA Selection Committee uses won’t really affect K-State:

“I think it used to be more of an absolute than it is. I think what happens now is they really look at the level of competition in those last games. If Davidson is playing all Southern Conference teams in its last 12 and goes 12-0, it’s not as significant as Arizona going 7-5 in the Pac-10. They’re more than savvy enough to understand the difference. And like all of these elements, different ones are factored in more for different teams depending on circumstances. It’s going to huge for Kentucky. For Kansas State — that happened to build its resume more in January than February and March — unless they really stink things up here by losing games they absolutely shouldn’t.”

Lunardi also said to discount the Michael Beasley factor when it comes to being chosen in the field of 65:

“I really don’t think so. Might I be a committee member who says, ‘Man, I’ve seen that kid four times and he’s unbelievable… I want to see him in my tournament?’ Yes, but it’s not like the games aren’t sold out. It’s not as if people don’t watch the games. The tournament is the draw, not necessarily an individual. Kevin Durant left in the second round last year, and I think people continued to pay attention.” 

Catching up

Few things:

- “Big Monday” has throw the usual rhythm off here. We also have a job candidate in town, and I’ve been helping entertain him. No recruiting stuff this week – not yet, anyway.

- We’re working on a couple of projects here I’m excited about. What I’ll share is this – we’re doing a field of 32 tournament that is pitting the best collegiate players in each state against each other. Confused? Don’t be. For instance, the Kansas six-man team might be Mike, Bill, Russ Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and maybe WSU’s P.J. Couisnard (although I doubt he made the cut). That crew would be a No. 1 seed, and they would play a 8 seed, etc. Well, they wouldn’t actually play, but we’re allowing readers to vote on which teams would advance, but we’re doing it one day at a time once we pair it down to the Sweet 16. It starts this Sunday, so look for it at kansas.com. It should be fun. My hunch is Tennessee is going to be a beast.

- Bob Huggins continues to do wonderful things for my career. I was recognized yesterday by the Associated Press Sports Editors in the category of breaking news for my story on Huggins’ departure. It’s the second story of mine about Huggins in as many years – the other was his hiring – that APSE has recognized. So I’ve got that going for me…

- Stay tuned for “Forum Friday.” It’s going down. I’ll be contacting the participants shortly via e-mail, probably no later than this evening. If you don’t hear from me, don’t fret. You may be used in a future “Forum.” Keep hope alive.

Post-mortem, Texas (02/26)

Texas is a fine club. No shame in that loss. But within the context of what is currently happening – three straight losses with Kansas on deck – it might have been catastrophic.

I still believe the Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament, but they’re about to scale the bubble. It’s the reality, folks. Will victories against Colorado and Iowa State to close the regular season be enough? Who knows?

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K-State vs. Texas (02/25)

FINAL, TEXAS, 74-65 

Good thing Jake showed up.

4:42 left, TEXAS, 62-54

Atchley with the tip. Brown at the line, and Fred has logged a lot of minutes tonight. Augustin gets what he wants again. And again – that guy is a pro. Lutz just said, “We’re watching two -fifths of the All-America team.” He’s right. Augustin converts a three-point play. Blake gets to the rack for a tough two. Airball for Jake – that was bad. Mike shrieked/whistled for the ball at the top of the key, and he missed a wide open 3. Bill is struggling – still. He does it again. He’s 0-for-12. He’s made as many baskets as Lutz. Mike drills his first free throw – and his second. Atchley with two tough rebounds that lead to five points – a lay-up and another Abrams 3.

10:17 left, 50-all

What has gotten into Andre Gilbert – and I mean that in a positive way? Abrams is getting going, hitting a deep 3. Jake has taken another step forward tonight after regressing against Baylor. OK, he just had a bad night Saturday. He isn’t having one tonight. There’s Abrams again, and he’s warm. Frank is HOT at ‘Nique right now. I think Bill needs to recognize he doesn’t have it and stop shooting. Atchley nails a 3, and Bill has one more point than Levi. How good has Jacob Pullen been? After that last 3, I saw scouts scribbling in their notebooks. He’s had a heck of a game already – 13 points and four assists.

14:28 left, KSU, 44-39

It’s loud in here, Levi says. I can barely hear him. K-State has gone ahead, and the Wildcats need to build on this. The pace has quickened considerably. What is Kevin Durant talking about? All we can see on press row is the monitor that says Ron and Fran are talking to him. By the way, I’m HUGE Ron and Fran fans. Ron Franklin might be the coolest older gentleman I know, and Fran is a college basketball nut, which I dig.

HALFTIME, 30-all

Augustin is filthy. A nice dish, then a pick of Jake for a layup. They left Fred Brown alone, and he finally hits a 3. He’s going to have those looks the rest of the season.

2:01 left, KSU, 27-26

Frank has done this before and the gamble hasn’t paid off. Bill is back on the floor, but he’s doing the offense-defense thing now with Walker – Gilbert is in for him. Mike makes a pair, and the Wildcats trail by 2. Bill’s back in. Great dish from Jake, a behind-the-back number, but Mike missed the reverse dunk. On the other end, James dribbles baseline but the ball skids off his feet. He misses both. Wangmene swats a Mike offering into the first row – but it’s goaltending. K-State takes the lead on a layup by Pullen, who runs back to the bench with his tongue out. They’re having fun in the stands. Yes, Dad, that’s the Wabash.

3:54 left in 1st half, TEXAS, 25-21

There’s a lot of pride in the house – or should I say a lot of “PROUD”? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. I can feel a run coming on. For which team, I’m not sure. But if something is going to happen, it’s going to happen right now. Wow, Frank goes to a zone. Guess he’s not too stubborn. James with a late 3 in the shot clock. How that wasn’t goaltending is amazing. The signs here are ridiculous. It has to be said – Texas underwhelms me. But you have to appreciate Stew tossing it up to Mike, who crams it through and brings the crowd to its feet. Bill with what might have been a phantom foul call. Probably not. James with a lay-in and a foul on Stew. The three-point play is good, and Texas is up seven. Jake hits a 3, and he’s clearly focused. Offensive foul on the Longhorns. Timeout.

8:39 left in 1st half, TEXAS, 18-15

Augustin buries a 3. He’s good. Man, another 3. He’s tough. Timeout, and the fans are riding the officials. Enough. The Wildcats aren’t playing with much energy. The fans have begun throwing things on the court. A peppermint was tossed. Frank is clapping after Bill draws a foul on a drive to the rack. The Longhorns are solid on defense. Bill’s at the line and makes one of two. Ron Anderson with another offensive rebound, which leads to Mike getting a bucket. You’ve got Ron Prince sitting behind us, trying to coax a Clent Stewart 3 in the rim. “Get in there,” he said. It missed, but Mike grabbed the loose change and put it back, drawing a foul. And I think Bob Lutz has a crush on ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil. I asked him if this was true, and my esteemed colleague nodded his head.

11:41 left, TEXAS, 11-10

It’s Mike’s turn for Head On A Stick Night. Lots of star power in the Bram. Curtis Malone is in the house, and yes, I’ve got it covered. Mike with a follow of a Pullen miss. Wow, a little Ron Anderson hit? He’s checking in with ‘Nique and Stew. Jake with a nice behind the pass dish to Mike, who converts the lay-up. A little bit of complaining on calls, and the Cats are down five. Jake brought his game tonight. He blows by Augustin, slips in between a pair of defenders and goes high off glass. Ron Anderson with another offensive rebound. Stew goes glass for two.

15:59 left, TEXAS, 6-2

I can’t wait to see D.J. Augustin in action. Sorry, sue me. I’ve been informed by Levi that Minnesota G.M. Kevin McHale is joined at the Fred tonight by Zarko Durisic, the Wolves’ director of pro personnel who apparently attended Wichita State. Not to be confused with Darko Milicic, folks, although he could probably take Darko. D.J. with penetration for a deuce. They’ve put Conor Atchley on Mike, and if he does a decent job, Conor might earn some scratch tonight. Mike beats him, and then Conor beats everyone the other way for a dunk. Cats look a little disjointed right now, but as my buddy Nate used to say back in York, Pa., “Dude, it’s sooooo early.” Never mind it was always 1:45 a.m. and the bars closed at 2. Oh, those were the days. D.J. with an absurd reverse that leaves the national folks here in awe. Mike with a steal and then a charge.

8:02 p.m.

Hey, really self-serving here – does anyone know anyone at the Riley County Police Department? If so, e-mail me immediately at jmartin@wichitaeagle.com. OK, back to the game. NBA general managers are out in droves – supposedly 14 in all. I told Steve Kerr I liked his trade, and he looked at me as if I were crazy. I don’t understand why, but that’s what happened. Mike has his game face on, if there is such a thing. Cool scene before the game – Mike came out to shoot, all by himself, and the student section applauded. The clapping subsided, and they started a chant – “One more year! One more year!” Beasley smiled in response. Nice atmosphere here in the Bram. Or the Fred. Can someone clear that up for me? I spoke to Fatima, who can’t wait to meet my Dad. Who knew? By the way, thumbs up for the new uniforms. I like them much better than the cat scratches. They’re simple yet elegant. Like my colleague Bob Lutz.

My take, Texas (02/25)

Kansas State never lost in January.

Texas hasn’t lost in February.

Does that mean the Wildcats have already peaked – especially if the Longhorns are currently peaking as most suggest? Not enough evidence.

Here is what is certain – K-State has yet to lose at home in the Big 12. Texas has only lost in the Big 12 on the road.

In the end, that’s what it comes down to for me. I don’t think there is a huge difference in talent, and in such case, always go with the home team.

Expect Dominique Sutton to play more. Expect K-State’s guards – Jacob Pullen, Blake Young and Clent Stewart – to play better than they did against Baylor, when they were outscored, 69-6, by the Bears’ quintet.

Really, I think it’s kind of a toss-up. And since I’ve been ordered to stop making predictions, that’s where this “take” ends.

Thoughts?

What’s the Big deal? (02/25)

Random musings from Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference call:

HOW about this? Kansas coach Bill Self was asked if his team was rooting for rival Kansas State tonight, and he said, “I hadn’t thought of that. But yes, we will be…”

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Mama Sayz (02/24)

Mrs. Smith has some crazy energy this week, which is a good thing. Out-of-town visitors will do that sometimes. Read all about that and much, much more – it’s “Mama Sayz”:

Hey Jeff, STOP PREDICTING THE GAMES! (J-MART NOTE: I know, right? I’m awful).

Man, that was a tough one to give up… Oh, in case anyone’s wondering, yes, we made it to the Nebraska game in Lincoln. Calvin, Miss Tiff and I were joined by my co-workers Lucy and Ms. G-Phi herself, Nikki, on our road trip. I really got a kick out of traveling through the small towns on our way north and seeing how content people can be in their surroundings. It’s very similar to how I’ve settled down here in “The Little Apple.” I remember traveling back east to The Big Apple for the game against Notre Dame. It was so exciting hanging out with Mona and Keisha and the rest of my family in the fast-paced world filled with the things that were so familiar to me for most of my life. However, when I finally made it back to Manhattan, Kan., I felt like quoting Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz –“THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!”

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