Monthly Archives: February 2013

Player Ratings: K-State 75, Texas Tech 55

The final score makes it look like Kansas State stomped Texas Tech without any trouble Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum, but the Wildcats needed big contributions from Thomas Gipson, Nino Williams and Angel Rodriguez to pull away from the struggling Red Raiders.

Before we look back on the 75-55 victory in another edition of Player Ratings, let’s first look at the race for a Big 12 championship, which is tighter than ever with three games remaining.

Kansas and K-State are tied for first at 12-3, and Oklahoma State is right behind them at 10-4.

The Jayhawks have the easiest remaining schedule, so they are the new favorites. Their remaining games are at home against West Virginia and Texas Tech, both of which they should easily win, and their only road game comes at Baylor, which has lost six of eight. After beating Oklahoma State and Iowa State on the road, it’s hard to see them losing again.

The Wildcats’ path to a conference championship is more difficult. They should be favored in their next two games, at Baylor and vs. TCU, but they will likely be underdogs in the season-finale at Oklahoma State. As long as K-State takes care of business against lesser teams like it has all season, its trip to Stillwater will have Big 12 championship implications.

The Cowboys are in the worst position. They need to win their four remaining games, which won’t be easy with a trip to Iowa State and a battle with K-State still to come, and hope Kansas stumbles. But if Oklahoma State runs the table and Kansas loses one of its final three games, the Cowboys will clinch at least a share of the conference title.

It’s possible all three teams could share the championship. The next two weeks should be fun to watch.

Now, onto the Player Ratings:

Thomas Gipson – 9.5: Gipson was simply dominant against Texas Tech. He made seven of nine shots, hit six of seven free throws and had 20 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes of action. He scored eight straight points for K-State when Texas Tech was threatening to pull an upset, and helped the Wildcat secure an important victory. The sophomore forward’s next challenge is to play as well and as hard as he did Monday on a consistent basis against different lineups, not just small front lines.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 6.3.
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FAQ: The Longhorn Network

With Kansas State’s next basketball game at Texas set to be televised on the Longhorn Network, Wildcats fans naturally have questions about how and where they can watch it.

The game won’t be available in many mainstream formats (No DirecTV or Dish Network) but the Longhorn Network is carried by major TV providers Cox Cable (channel 272) and AT&T U-Verse. It can also be found on Verizon and Grande Communications.

On twitter, some have asked if the game will be available on ESPN3. It will not. I spoke with Rob Carolla, the Big 12′s Director of Communications for basketball, this morning, and he confirmed that the game will be televised exclusively on the Longhorn Network. He said it is up to each school to decide how to distribute games that are played on its third-tier TV network, and the only institutions in the Big 12 that allow their third-tier games to be shared on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court are Kansas and West Virginia.
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Player Ratings: K-State 81, Texas 69

How much better is Kansas State than Texas this season? The Wildcats easily defeated the Longhorns with and without Myck Kabongo.

The talented Texas point guard was back in the starting lineup on Saturday, but it didn’t matter. K-State shot the ball well from all over (it made 20 of 22 free throws and 9 of 18 three-pointers) and won without much trouble 81-69.

It was its third straight victory by double digits. With Texas Tech coming up next at Bramlage Coliseum, that streak could easily be extended to four. The Wildcats are playing some of their best basketball at the moment.

Let’s look back on its latest win in another edition of Player Ratings:

Rodney McGruder – 9: This was one of McGruder’s better games. The senior guard scored 20 points on 13 shots and also grabbed six rebounds. He got to the free-throw line and played strong defense without committing fouls. That was important in this game.
Last game: 7. Average: 8.1.

Shane Southwell – 8.5: Southwell followed one of his worst games with one of his best. The junior guard made three three-pointers, including an off-balance trey just before halftime that swung momentum K-State’s way for good, on his way to an 11-point night. But he was also effective in other areas, sending out six assists and grabbing six rebounds.
Last game: 4. Average: 7.4.

Angel Rodriguez – 8: Foul trouble limited him from playing more, and that’s something he needs to watch in future games. Some of his fouls were unnecessary. Still, he was a difference-maker when he was on the floor. Rodriguez had 16 points, six assists and two rebounds.
Last game: 7. Average: 7.4.
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Player Ratings: K-State 81, Baylor 61

Kansas State bounced back from a blowout loss with a blowout victory on Saturday when it shredded Baylor 81-61 at Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats dismantled the Bears without much trouble, leading by double digits for the majority of the second half.

It was one of their most impressive efforts of the season, with everyone in the starting lineup playing well and everyone on the roster seeing action.

So there are plenty of high marks to go around in the latest edition of Player Ratings:

Angel Rodriguez – 9.5: The sophomore point guard is playing at a high level. Rodriguez once again had a strong effort, this time out-playing Pierre Jackson on his way to 22 points, 10 assists and five rebounds while only losing two turnovers. Baylor coach Scott Drew said he looked like an “All-American.”
Last game: 8. Average: 7.5.

Shane Southwell – 9: Southwell was hot from the outside, and he wasn’t afraid to shoot. The junior guard drained six of nine three-pointers on his way to an 18-point, five-rebound effort that greatly helped K-State pull away from Baylor. When he shoots like that, K-State is a different team.
Last game: 6. Average: 7.35.

Jordan Henriquez – 8.5: Finally. That’s what everyone that attended Saturday’s game, including Henriquez, had to say after K-State’s senior forward finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. It was his first double-double of the season, and his first truly strong showing since the Florida game. It surely helped Henriquez to go up against Baylor’s soft front line, but at this point it doesn’t really matter who the double-double came against. He hadn’t scored more than nine points coming into the game and was trapped in a season-long slump. Maybe this will finally bust him out of it.
Last game: 4. Average: 5.7.
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Frank Martin compares South Carolina players to zombies in postgame rant

Frank Martin went Frank Martin on his South Carolina players Thursday night following an embarrassing 64-46 home loss to LSU.

The former Kansas State basketball coach was so disgusted by his team’s extreme lack of effort and so frustrated by a fifth-straight loss that he compared all but one of his players to zombies.

It was the start of a postgame news conference that quickly went viral. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the video here. Darryl Slater, of the Post and Courier, was also good enough to transcribe the whole thing.

“If you take (point guard) Bruce Ellington off our team, you’d probably have the 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in ‘The Return of the Living Dead,’ the zombie movie,” he said. “If you took Bruce off our team, our guys would probably win an Academy (Award) for their performance in that movie. I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today.”

Later, when asked how he could motivate his players to give more effort, Martin said:

“If this was the NBA, we’d fine them, we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’ It’s not the NBA. So we’re in education. Somehow, some way, we have to reach them. It’s embarrassing. I’m just telling you, I’ve been telling our team here for three weeks that there’s a word that if it’s not in your vocabulary – whatever it is you choose to do in life – if the word ‘pride’ is not your vocabulary, you’ve got no chance at ever sniffing success.

“I’m a lot of things, but I’ve got pride. And I’m just telling you, I’m doing this (press conference) right now out of respect to you (reporters) and your jobs and because it’s part of my job. But I have never been so embarrassed. I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”

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Player Ratings: Kansas 83, K-State 62. Plus a bonus look at the Big 12 title race

Kansas State didn’t play well and had to battle early foul trouble. Kansas played its best game in more than a month and Ben McLemore made six three-pointers.

That combination led to an 83-62 victory for the Jayhawks.

We will look back at it in a moment in another edition of Player Ratings, but for now let’s examine the race for a Big 12 championship. K-State and Kansas are tied in first at 8-3 while Oklahoma State sits a half game back with struggling Texas Tech next up on the schedule. Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor all have four losses, but right now it seems like there are only three main contenders.

They could all be labeled the favorite. Oklahoma State has the most talent (Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown) and an ideal remaining schedule (K-State and Kansas still have to go to Stillwater). Kansas has the most experience coming off eight straight Big 12 titles. And nobody takes care of business better than K-State. The Wildcats don’t have any bad losses.

But all three teams have flaws. The Cowboys are young and have never been in this situation before. Besides, do you really trust Travis Ford as a coach when the pressure is on? The Jayhawks have issues at point guard and will be haunted by a loss at TCU the rest of the way. Their schedule is back-loaded with remaining games at Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor. The Wildcats aren’t getting consistent play inside and play at Texas a week after Myck Kabongo’s return. Kansas and Oklahoma State avoided that road challenge.

It’s a wide-open race that could go in many different directions. Maybe even a three-way tie. No matter what, it will be fun to watch.

OK, onto the Player Ratings:

Rodney McGruder – 8: McGruder had a brilliant second half and finished with 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. But he was quiet early on, and lost four turnovers. That offset an otherwise strong performance.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 8.13.
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Bruce Weber hopes early shootaround helps Wildcats in Sunflower Showdown

Kansas State’s last few trips to Allen Fieldhouse have been ugly. Since beating Kansas 59-55 in 2006 under Jim Wooldridge, the Wildcats have lost six straight in Lawrence by an average of 19.3 points.

The main reason for those lopsided scores: Terrible starts.

Under former coach Frank Martin, it took K-State until midway through the first half to get going. To their credit, the Wildcats usually mounted a strong enough comeback to make things interesting in the second half, but that took up all their energy. In the end, Kansas was able to pull away for double-digit victories.

In an attempt to end that trend, K-State arrived in Lawrence earlier than usual last night and had a shootaround at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Initially we thought of just coming over this morning, but with all the hype for the game we just felt we needed to get the guys away,” Weber said during the Big 12′s weekly teleconference on Monday. “Some of them expressed an interest in shooting at Allen Fieldhouse. We did a quick walk-through yesterday and ate dinner. Then we came over to Lawrence and shot a little bit and got the guys focused on the task at hand.”
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Player Ratings: K-State 79, Iowa State 70

Kansas State’s 79-70 victory over Iowa State was one of those games that makes Saturdays in the heart of college basketball season great. Both teams played well and with high energy, and it wasn’t until Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez and Thomas Gipson all got going at the same time that the Wildcats were finally able to pull away.

Before that, the game was back-and-forth. With first-place in the Big 12 on the line, it was obvious both teams wanted the top spot in the conference standings.

K-State, now on a four-game winning streak, is currently a game clear of the field with a huge game coming up on Monday at Kansas. Win at Allen Fieldhouse and K-State will have a firmer lead. Lose and the race is wide open.

Until then, let’s look back at last night with another edition of player ratings:

Rodney McGruder – 9.5: What didn’t McGruder do? The senior had 22 points, five assists, foul steals and three rebounds. He hit big shots inside and out, and was active from the get-go. He has had trouble at the start of games recently, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. K-State was a better team because of his constant contributions.
Last game: 9. Average: 8.15.

Thomas Gipson – 9: It doesn’t matter how many points or rebounds Thomas Gipson has the rest of the season, Bruce Weber should keep him out of the starting lineup. Gipson has been on an absolute tear since he started coming off the bench. A game after playing well at Texas Tech, he was dominant inside against Iowa State, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds. The Cyclones out-muscled the Wildcats in their first meeting. Gipson made sure that didn’t happen in the rematch.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 6.4.
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K-State sending five to NFL Combine

Five former Kansas State football players have been invited to participate in the 2013 NFL Combine.

The NFL released a complete list of the players it is inviting to its annual scouting combine late Wednesday night, and Arthur Brown, Anthony Cantele, Chris Harper, Collin Klein and Braden Wilson were all included.

Brown, a standout linebacker for the Wildcats, figures to be the top draft pick of the group. But after an impressive week of practices at the Senior Bowl, Harper has already improved his NFL stock at receiver.

Klein will try to show NFL scouts he is capable of playing quarterback at the next level. Cantele will show off his leg. And Wilson will be out to prove the experts, who labeled him the best fullback in college football, right.

Kansas State signing day


I was in Manhattan this afternoon to fill in for Kellis, who was traveling back from Lubbock after K-State’s 68-59 win over Texas Tech on Tuesday night. Here’s five thoughts from Bill Snyder’s press conference on K-State’s latest recruiting class, and my story from today:

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