Monthly Archives: January 2013

Player Ratings: K-State bench steps up in easy 83-57 win over Texas

The combination of Rodney McGruder running into early foul trouble and Texas playing far below its normal standards under coach Rick Barnes led to plenty of Kansas State basketball players having big games on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum.

Omari Lawrence showed what he is capable of. Thomas Gipson was strong down low. And walk-ons scored in the final moments. K-State got 45 points from its bench in an all-around effort and won going away 83-57. Here is a look back with another edition of player ratings:

Thomas Gipson – 9: Maybe Thomas Gipson should go back to coming off the bench, because he played at a very high level doing so on Wednesday. The sophomore forward, out of the starting lineup for the first time in Big 12 play, was a bully around the basket. He had 17 points, seven rebounds and a steal in just 21 minutes.
Last game: 4.5. Average: 5.9.

Angel Rodriguez – 8.5: The sophomore guard is dishing out assists and avoiding turnovers at an impressive rate. In his last four games, he has 31 assists and four turnovers. He once again made nice passes against Texas, finishing with eight assists and one turnover. He also scored 11 points and is helping K-State’s offense in many different ways. Coach Bruce Weber hopes he can start making more shots in the next few games — he was 3 for 12 against the Longhorns — but there isn’t much else to nitpick with Rodriguez right now.
Last game: 7. Average: 7.3.

Omari Lawrence — 8: This was his best game by far. The seldom-used K-State guard played big minutes in the first half with Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving in foul trouble, and took full advantage. He finished with 12 points, six rebounds, two steals and supplied quality defense throughout. He should see more action moving forward. Oh, and in case you like weird stats, here is one for you: Lawrence had as many points in the first half (10) as South Carolina did in the first half of a blowout loss to Florida.
Last game: N/A. Average: 5.
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Player Ratings: Will Spradling regains shooting touch, but K-State big men come up short in 73-67 loss at Iowa State


Struggling to grab rebounds and failing to play defense is a combination that rarely leads to victory.

K-State learned that lesson during a 73-67 loss to Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Even with the Wildcats making 50.9 percent of their shots and leading at halftime, they couldn’t overcome getting out-rebounded and allowing 18 second-chance points.

The game was close from the get-go, but Iowa State was able to use its advantage inside and come up with key plays when it mattered most.

No. 11 K-State has now lost back-to-back games for the first time under Bruce Weber. It will likely drop to the 20-25 range when the national polls are released on Monday. More importantly, it dropped into a tie for third in the Big 12 standings at 4-2. Kansas is leading the way at 6-0, Baylor is 5-1 and Oklahoma, Iowa State and K-State are all in third.

The next week will be important. K-State will be favored against struggling Texas on Wednesday, but face a difficult rematch game at Oklahoma on Saturday. For now, though, let’s look back with another edition of player ratings.

Will Spradling – 8.5: Going scoreless against Kansas didn’t sit well with Spradling, and, to his credit, he did something about the poor outing. The junior guard spent the majority of the last few days in K-State’s practice facility improving his shot. He put up too many jumpers to count, and that work paid off with a 15-point effort at Iowa State. He made four three-pointers, including one he converted into a four-point play following a foul, and also hit a nifty reverse layup in the early moments. Spradling has been up-and-down this season, but he hopes a game like this can serve as a first step toward consistency.
Last game: 3. Average: 6.3.

Rodney McGruder – 7: He was strong in transition, slipping away behind the defense for uncontested dunks and fighting past defenders for layups, but only OK in most other areas. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, which is solid. But he also had four turnovers and went 0 for 3 from the free-throw line. He is drawing serious defensive attention right now. His challenge in upcoming games will be figuring out how to score 20+ points against it.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 8.5.
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Missed rebound sticks with Shane Southwell

Shane Southwell has boosted his stats in several areas since switching from guard to forward. In his last nine games, the Kansas State junior is averaging nearly 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.

So far, he is enjoying his new role with the Wildcats. But he was noticeably frustrated about one aspect of his game following a practice Thursday evening. He wants to improve as a rebounder.

Though he has grabbed seven boards in back-to-back games, he feels haunted by a loose ball that got away.

“I know I keep saying this, but it is still killing me that I let Kevin Young get that rebound and then Ben McLemore hit that three,” Southwell said. “… I’m still messed up on that one play, but I’m over it in a sense that I am learning from what we did wrong.”

The missed rebound came in the second half of a 59-55 loss to Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum. Southwell had just made a jumper to pull K-State within 48-43 and was in position to get the ball back when Elijah Johnson missed a three. But Young came away with the rebound, Kansas moved the ball around and McLemore made a three that put the Jayhawks ahead 51-43.

Southwell said he has been pushing himself in practice the past few days, and spending extra time on rebounding drills so the mistake doesn’t happen again. He already seems ready for a rematch with Young.

“I should never have let that guy get that rebound,” Southwell said. “I mean, it’s Kevin Young.”

Rebounding should once again be key for Southwell and the Wildcats when they take on Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones like to shoot three-pointers, and that leads to long rebounds. The Cyclones are also a strong rebounding team. They average more than 41 boards, while holding their opponents to 34.

Oh, and Southwell will be competing for rebounds against Melvin Ejim, the Big 12′s leader in rebounding (9.5) and double-doubles (8).

“No lie, Ejim is stronger than I am,” Southwell said. “I just have to use my smarts and my quickness to beat him in the post.”

Player Ratings: Shane Southwell needed a little more help in 59-55 loss to Kansas


Before we get to the player ratings from last night’s Sunflower Showdown, which Kansas won 59-55 and lived up to the pregame hype, I would like to take a moment to compliment Wichita Eagle photographer Travis Heying for the above photo. What a great shot. It shows how physical things can get inside during a basketball game, and how easy it can be to overlook in real time.

I mean, Thomas Gipson has Jeff Withey in a chokehold. Don’t see that very often.

Anyway, K-State played well in a losing effort against Kansas. Had the Wildcats made a few more shots or attacked the rim more effectively they easily could have won. But they don’t have any time to dwell on the loss. Up next is a road trip to Iowa State, which is 13-4 and has won all its Big 12 games outside of Allen Fieldhouse.

Overcoming Hilton Magic is never easy. K-State will need to play well if it wants to keep pace in the conference race. Now, onto the player ratings:

Shane Southwell — 9.5: You couldn’t ask for more out of Southwell, even though the junior guard said he should have made an additional three three-pointers. He played one of his best games at K-State, scoring 19 points, grabbing seven rebounds and giving the Wildcats much-needed life from the outside. Southwell made five three-pointers, leading Bill Self to suggest he might be the most improved player in the Big 12.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.8.

Angel Rodriguez — 8: The sophomore point guard gave K-State an incredible boost in the first half, scoring 12 points and attacking the Jayhawks’ front line. If only he could have continued that play in the second half instead of being held scoreless. Still, he played a quality game. His good plays were up (eight assists and five rebounds) and his bad plays were down (two turnovers and one foul).
Last game: 7.5. Average: 7.1.
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Nigel Malone shines while Collin Klein struggles at East-West Shrine Game

The East-West Shrine Game couldn’t have gone much better for former Kansas State cornerback Nigel Malone.

He jumped in front of a pass just before halftime and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown that gave his team a 21-3 lead. When the game was over, he was named Most Outstanding Player on defense.

“I didn’t exactly finish how I wanted to in the Fiesta Bowl,” Malone (told the Tampa Bay Times), referring to his Wildcats’ 35-17 loss to Oregon on Jan. 3. “This meant a lot to come out in my last, real college game and come up with a victory, especially with a great group of guys.”

It’s hard to say how one play might impact his NFL chances (he was projected as a possible late-round selection heading in) but a pick six in a college all-star game certainly can’t hurt. Malone had a knack for interceptions with the Wildcats, and proved he could still make them in a new setting. He also must have felt relieved to hold the ball all the way across the goal line.

The game didn’t go as well for former K-State quarterback Collin Klein, though.
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Player Ratings: Balanced attack helps Kansas State defeat Oklahoma 69-60

This time, it wasn’t just one player helping Rodney McGruder. Everyone pitched in.

Shane Southwell, Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling all scored at least 12 points, and the Wildcats won their eighth-straight game. K-State will likely move into the top 15 when the national polls are released Monday.

That means Tuesday’s Sunflower Showdown at Bramlage Coliseum will be a matchup of highly ranked teams. First place in the Big 12 will also be on the line. K-State set up that matchup by handing Oklahoma its first conference loss on Saturday. Here’s a look back with player ratings:

Rodney McGruder — 9: K-State’s leading scorer was held scoreless for more than 13 minutes on Saturday. In the end, that didn’t matter. Once McGruder found the bottom of the net, he kept shooting it well and finished with 20 points. The senior wing played all 40 minutes and was once again the best player on the floor.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 9.12.

Shane Southwell — 8: Southwell delivered 10 of his 12 points in the first half when Oklahoma was clamping down on Rodney McGruder. He made sure the Wildcats stayed close until McGruder got going. Then K-State pulled away. He also did a nice job on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds.
Last game: 6. Average: 7.37.
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Lon Kruger returns to K-State on a 3-game winning streak against his alma mater

Oklahoma struggled in its first season under Lon Kruger, finishing with a 15-16 record and only five Big 12 victories.

But that didn’t stop the Sooners from beating Kansas State twice last year. Oklahoma entered both its games against the Wildcats, who were ranked at the time, as underdogs, but came away with a season sweep. Oklahoma led from start to finish in Norman, winning 82-73, and outplayed K-State in Manhattan, winning 63-60.

Kruger put on a coaching clinic in the rematch, which led some to suggest he had Frank Martin’s number. During his time with UNLV and Oklahoma, Kruger went 3-1 against K-State, where he used to play and coach. The only time the Wildcats won, Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente were crazy hot on offense. Overall, Kruger is 4-2 against his former school.

Kruger still has connections at K-State, and donated enough money to the program’s new practice facility that he has a locker named after him inside it. He keeps up with all of the Wildcats’ games and hopes they win when he is not coaching against them. Along with OU assistant Steve Henson, another former K-State player, handling the scout for the game, Oklahoma knows everything there is to know about the Wildcats. That has given the Sooners an edge recently.

But Kruger is 0-1 against Bruce Weber. UNLV and Illinois played each other in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and the Illini jumped out to a big halftime lead before winning 73-62. So Kruger vs. Weber for the first time at Bramlage Coliseum should be an interesting game.
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K-State in search of new recruiting blood

First Joe Bob Clements. Now Michael Smith.

In the span of five days, the Kansas State football team surprisingly lost two longtime assistants that once played for the Wildcats and started their coaching careers under Bill Snyder.

Clements, K-State’s former defensive ends coach and defensive run game coordinator, is off to Oklahoma State as the Cowboys’ new defensive line coach. Smith, K-State’s former receivers coach, will be in charge of the same position at Arkansas.

Their absences will be noticeable. On the field, Clements and Smith did a fine job of developing talent. Meshak Williams and Adam Davis were two of the top pass-rushers in the Big 12 last season. Chris Harper came to Manhattan hoping to play quarterback and left as a productive receiver with a future in the NFL. They helped K-State win 21 games the past two seasons.

But their biggest contributions came in recruiting.

Smith and Clements were without a doubt K-State’s top two recruiters. Smith, a New Orleans native, regularly signed prospects from Florida and Louisiana, where he faced competition from SEC schools. He spoke passionately about “not taking a backseat” to other programs and Rivals labeled him as one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 last year. Clements, an Emporia native, was well-liked in the Sunflower State and helped seal the deal with many local recruits.

They were the two youngest assistants on the Wildcats’ staff (Clements is 37 and Smith is 42) and had outgoing personalities that high school seniors could easily relate to.
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Player Ratings: Martavious Irving shines

TCU might be ready to compete for a Big 12 championship in football next season, but it will be a long time before the Horned Frogs can do the same in basketball.

Heck, it might be a while before they finish .500 in conference play.

Trent Johnson’s team is low on talent, TCU’s arena is by far the most outdated hoops venue in the league and the Frogs don’t currently have what it takes to give most Big 12 teams a game.

For those reasons, there was nothing surprising about K-State’s 67-54 victory on Wednesday. Even on the road, the Wildcats were heavy favorites. Everyone expected them to win easily, and they did by taking a 67-42 lead with 6:19 remaining and easing off the gas.

At 3-0 in conference play, big games now await No. 16 K-State. Oklahoma, also undefeated in the league, and No. 4 Kansas come to Bramlage Coliseum next.

But for now, let’s look back on last night’s victory with some player ratings.

Rodney McGruder – 9.5: The senior wing is turning into a constant for K-State. It can depend on him each and every night. He scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in 32 minutes.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 9.16.

Martavious Irving – 9: Irving came off the bench and delivered some fantastic defense. He forced a 10-second violation and a 5-second violation with pressure defense and grabbed three steals. Throw in eight points, five assists and one turnover and Irving had one of his finest games.
Last game: 6. Average: 7.
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Player Ratings: Shane Southwell leads the way for K-State in 65-64 win at West Virginia

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new. After every conference game K-State plays this season, I will rate the way every K-State player performed on a 1-10 scale. This was first popularized by soccer writers and can be found other places. But, as I pointed out, it’s new here. Enjoy!

Shane Southwell — 9.5
This was Southwell’s best and most complete game in a Kansas State uniform. The junior guard scored a career-high 17 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists to go along with two free throws and a block that won the game in the final minute.
*Last game: 6. Average: 7.75.

*Though no player ratings were posted after the Oklahoma State game (I was sick last weekend) I still did the ratings in my head.

Rodney McGruder — 8.5: He was the Wildcats’ top scoring option in the first half, and did enough in the second half to finish with 17 points and six rebounds. It was another solid game from McGruder, but he could have done more. He missed an important open jumper in clutch time and only went 7 of 16 from the field.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 9.

Angel Rodriguez — 7: Rodriguez was too aggressive, committed too many fouls (three) and missed too many shots (four) but he played his best when it mattered most. The sophomore point guard made an important three-pointer in the second half and provided key defense in the final moments. He knows how to stay confident when things don’t go his way early.
Last game: 7. Average: 7.
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