In the wake of Thursday’s way-too-close victory over Presbyterian, Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin talked a lot about leadership.
Right now he doesn’t think the Wildcats have much of it.
“We’re the most immature team I’ve ever coached,” Martin said. “Great team. Great kids. But we’re the most immature team I’ve ever coached.”
After watching an uninspired effort that led to a 76-67 victory over the Blue Hose, he labeled junior walk-on Victor Ojeleye as the best leader on the roster and said what the Wildcats’ locker room needed most right now was the return of Luis Colon.
Not even senior guard Jacob Pullen is apparently doing his part.
“Jacob was great early,” Martin said. “He hasn’t been lately.”
Could such statements be hyperbole? Perhaps, but Martin made similar comments last year when K-State struggled to beat Fort Hays State in an early season game at Bramlage Coliseum (back then he said he longed for the return of Darren Kent) and that lit a fire under his players.
The Wildcats played inspired basketball the rest of the season.
Having beaten Virginia Tech on Tuesday, maybe K-State players got complacent and overlooked Presbyterian. With Gonzaga and Marquette/Duke up next that wouldn’t surprise anyone. But after Martin’s harsh assessment, no one will overlook today’s practice.
“Once you show him you can do something, you can never go back to being lazy or lackadaisical, whatever you were before,” Pullen said. “He expects that from you every time. Now we have to get back to doing that in practice.”
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
– Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge struggled yet again against Presbyterian. K-State’s starting frontcourt combined for 16 points and six rebounds, and was thoroughly outplayed by Al’Lonzo Coleman. The Blue Hose big man went for 15 points and 14 rebounds and was far and away the top-performing post player on the court. Afterward Martin said it was time for a change in that area. Don’t be surprised if Victor Ojeleye, Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts all see bigger roles in the rotation next week.
– Still no word on Curtis Kelly. Martin said he didn’t want to talk about players who had no part in Thursday’s game when asked when the senior forward might return to the floor.
– Bramlage Coliseum saw its smallest crowd of the year Thursday. No guess at actual attendance, but there were empty seats in all areas.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Victor Ojeleye by a wide margin. He came off the bench to score four points, grab two rebounds and provide tough defense when K-State needed a spark. He was the only Wildcats player who effectively guarded Coleman. His energy was high, and it was a must.
PLAY OF THE GAME: When Ojeleye was inserted into the game, Presbyterian cut the Wildcats’ lead to 63-60. But Ojeleye quickly hit a jumper to give his team some breathing room.
THAT WAS SWEET: Overshadowed by the final score was a fine passing effort by K-State. The Wildcats finished with 17 assists compared to four turnovers. My favorite assist was a nifty pass from Will Spradling to Asprilla for a thunderous dunk in the first half.
WHAT A DOWNER: What is going on with K-State at the free-throw line? The Wildcats missed 10 of 19 free throws Thursday, and many of the misses were way off. They have been bad from the charity stripe all season. Martin thinks he knows why. “Our guys aren’t coming in and shooting basketballs anymore,” he said. “They show up, when I tell them to practice they practice. When I tell them practice is over they leave. We’re not shooting the ball … We’re not making shots in practice. We’re not making shots in games.
NEXT UP: The CBE Classic in Kansas City should be as exciting as any early season tournament out there this year.
SAY WHAT? “Every game is a big game when you are the No. 3 team in the country, and obviously we did not get the memo before we stepped out on the court tonight. Now I guess we really have to check our mailbox before we step on the floor for practice and before every game, because we realize that every team is going to come in and give us their best shot.” – Pullen on overlooking Thursday’s game.