My take, Illinois State

You always see flashes. That’s what I took away from last night’s dramatic Kansas State victory. Not that the Wildcats moved on, which is noteworthy and is the topic I touch on in tomorrow’s advance. But that no matter who is called upon, no matter who is struggling, someone always fills the void.

Last night, it was Buchi Awaji in the second half and then Dominique Sutton at the end of regulation and overtime. And Jacob Pullen, who has been Robin to Denis Clemente’s Batman for most of the season, took the challenge and kept the Wildcats afloat.

And it’s the same thing with all of these guys, with the exception of Pullen. Every time something positive happens, their play is instantly elevated. Every time, especially with Awaji. True story – earlier this season, in Las Vegas, an NBA scout was watching the Wildcats. He was fixated on Awaji, asking me all about him. Remember, Buchi didn’t play much until then – and truth be told, he hasn’t played too much since, either. But the scout was blown away by him, convinced he was a star in the making because of his length, athleticism and efficient – mostly effortless – shooting stroke.

I believe the direct quote was, “Frank’s gotta play that dude.”

Not pretending to know what makes Frank Martin tick, but I’m guessing that if Buchi was prepared to help K-State sooner than he was, he would have been on the court. It’s not as if the Wildcats are that deep.

Anyway, I’m always struck by the timeliness of these performances. Denis Clemente is STRUGGLING with his shot right now, but it hasn’t hurt his effectiveness in other areas, mostly passing. Reality is, though, he has to score in order for the Wildcats to be dangerous, but at the moment, thanks to contributions from players like Awaji and Sutton, it can be off-set.

Which, in a typically overblown post, is the definition of team, no?

Nice to see DK bounce back last night. He’ll be needed against San Diego State. Don’t know where Jamar Samuels disappeared to, as well as Fred Brown, but it’s OK.

The Wildcats won, and the season continues. For at least another couple of days, possibly longer.