Just a brutal game. Also a game Kansas State never made a habit of winning in recent history, at least as long as I’ve been covering the Wildcats. There’s always been a swagger – or, as the kids say, “swag” – associated with Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, and there were times this season when that wasn’t a good thing. But what we’ve seen is almost what Ron Prince insisted he wanted from Josh Freeman – to keep the game close and allow the superstar to win it at the end.
It didn’t happen nearly enough with Prince and Freeman, and we saw how that ended. Prince is coaching special teams back at Virginia, and I think we’re all in agreement that this is not a promotion or a lateral move, unlike when some former K-State assistants left for “promotions.” As for Freeman, his pro day at K-State – need to get a date on this, Kenny Lannou – will probably be more vital than he anticipated. I don’t think he bombed at the Combine over the weekend, but reports suggest he wasn’t as impressive as he’d hoped.
Anyway, this is a basketball post, and Clemente, Pullen and Fred Brown have been closing games out for K-State. And I don’t see the trend ending anytime soon, either, and I’m looking ahead to next season when the Wildcats should have no less than the conference’s second- or third-best backcourt.
Isn’t the sign of a good basketball team its ability to win a road game when it doesn’t have its best stuff? I don’t subscribe to the tired, Tiger Woods-aided “A” game rhetoric because that’s always a discredit to the opponent. Always. If you don’t have your best stuff and you’re going to make a big deal of it, then don’t show up. You have to compete.
And for the past nine games, eight of which have resulted in wins, the Wildcats have competed. No doubt, and by now, that’s not a trend – that’s simply how things are. As for reaching the NCAA Tournament, sure, K-State is deserving – Frank Martin’s rant during today’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference call was priceless – but perception is a real… problem. Did the Wildcats play anyone in non-conference? And if so, did the Wildcats beat anyone of consequence in the non-conference?
All K-State can do is keep winning games. Isn’t “last 12″ a key component now for the Committee? If so, the Wildcats can make a compelling case for being one of the nation’s hottest teams if they piling up wins. Take care of Missouri in a couple of days – still have no idea of how that might play out because the Tigers don’t really impress me that much – and who knows? Closing out this five-game stretch without a blemish might be possible.
Have to be encouraged by Jamar Samuels almost finding his second wind. He’s so active, even if, as he admits, he’s not quite polished offensively. But K-State is fine with putting the ball on the rim – just as long as the Wildcats retrieve the misses, which they’ve been doing at a high rate.
One win away from 20 for the third consecutive year – how can anyone critique what Frank Martin has done? He won’t win Coach of the Year – Bill Self has done an impressive job, as well as Jeff Capel, Mike Anderson and Doc Sadler – but he should be in the conversation. The haters are still out there – at Ames, there were people comparing Martin to former ISU coach Wayne Morgan, and the comparison wasn’t intended as a compliment.
Can you imagine if, as it was rumored, that Tim Weiser had hired Gregg McDermott instead of Bob Huggins? From my vantage point Saturday, there are a lot of similarities between McDermott and former K-State coach Jim Wooldridge, and did K-Staters want four more years of Wooly? Wooly wasn’t quite in over his head, but compared to where K-State basketball is now, it’s remarkable to think he was somehow, somewhat responsible for the current situation.
I gave away more tickets. Got some more pictures to post tomorrow, but first, a little background – I grew up in Vermont without a real connection or affiliation with any university or professional franchise. I went to Boston University, where hockey is the most successful sport.
The passion for K-State athletics is startling… And I’m a little envious. When I start a family, a must will be living in or near a college town. I want my children to have some of the same experiences all of you have had.
That is all.