Category Archives: I GOT FIVE ON IT

I GOT FIVE ON IT … Fatima Smith

Not just good stuff today from Ma-B-Ez – and by the way, if anyone has seen Mrs. Smith’s license plate, she still wants it back – but great stuff. Mike Beasley’s mom agreed to be this week’s “Five,” and rumor has it she might make a few more visits here at “K-Stated.” But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I think you’re going to like her candor and insight. If you see her at tomorrow night’s game, wish her a “Happy Birthday” – it was Tuesday, and she told me she was turning 30.

She’s a funny lady. She got rolling, so we went with a few extra questions, and I’m sure you all won’t mind. Special thanks again to ‘clams, who did the hard part, which was submitting questions.

1. What is something about Mike that no one else knows?
Off of the top of my head I would say that the one thing which MOST people don’t know about Lil’ Mike is that he’s afraid of the dark. Yep, you got it, Big, Macho Mike is afraid of the dark! To this day he will not stay in the house alone unless every light in the house is on. Chances are that if you see him outside after dark more often then not he’s probably not alone or he’s in a well-lit area…go figure!

2. Does Mike have any contact with his paternal father? Has he tried to latch onto Mike’s fame?
Now this is a “doubleheader.” Lil’ Mike’s dad (Big Mike) contacts him periodically to see how things are going just as a normal parent would. As for him latching on… I wouldn’t quite call it that. He’s just proud of the accomplishments that his son has made and absolutely loves his bragging rights on his name sake!

3. Are your other children interested in sports?
Now it’s time for me to introduce the other members of my official “starting five,” let me go down the list…

Dymond (Leroy), age 20 – Dymond was the star of his high school basketball team as a senior and he was actually pretty good. Now his love for the sport is pretty much recreational. He loves to shoot around and play one on one with Lil’ Mike and some of the other guys from the K-State men’s basketball team.

Mychaela, age 16 – Now before we moved to Manhattan you would have thought that Mychaela made her own sport of how long can she stay on the computer, phone and watch T.V. at the same time… Now she’s going to be the next “Flo-Jo” and try out for the track team at MHS.

Malik, age 9 – Malik is a very rambunctious little boy. His first love is bowling but he also likes basketball, football, soccer and baseball, too, in that order.

Tiffany, age 3 – Tiffany’s sport is definitely to see how fast she can make me pull out my hair, strand by strand. She gives a new meaning to the term “Daddy’s Girl.”

4. How do you handle the criticism that Mike is undisciplined and/or immature?
At first, just like with any parent, I would be offended because he is still one of my babies, no matter how big he is. But then I realized that people will say anything about anybody. I believe that Lil’ Mike’s being immature was attributed to him being a prankster, although his pranks could be very annoying to most. As far as him being undisciplined, that is just a blatant untruth if I ever did hear one. He gets grounded just like any other average kid, trust me…

5. At what age was Mike when you realized he was going to be really good at basketball?
When Lil’ Mike was either 14 or15 years old his AAU summer league team, D.C. Assault, in the boys’ 16-U national championship game, coached by David Cox, against the D-1 Greyhounds featuring O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker (that was actually the first time I’ve ever heard of that duo). D.C. Assault only had six players that were able to travel with them at the time, one of the other players was Lil’ Mike’s best friend, Nolan Smith (now a freshman at Duke). Nolan’s mother, Monica Smith-Malone (J-Mart note: Monica is married to Curtis Malone, the D.C. Assault founder) and I were on pins and needles all week but they actually pulled off the “W” and brought home the gold. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world to know that our boys were able to go the distance with less than half of their teammates on a national platform.

Another indication would be what seems to be countless pages of information, links and photos from doing a Google search.

(BONUS) 6. How do you handle the pressure that comes along with being the mother of a very soon to be multi-millionaire?
If I may, I would change the word “pressure” to “responsibility.” Now, how I handle the responsibility of anything dealing with Lil’ Mike is the same as I do for all of my children. I have a close circle of friends and family that I trust/know like the back of my hand and I discuss all matters with them before making any final decisions about my kids, in particular my sister Mona.

(BONUS) 7. Aside from No. 30, who is your second favorite Wildcat on this year’s team and why?
First of all, who says No. 30 is my favorite? I’m just kidding – of course he’s my favorite! This is a difficult question because I consider the whole team my “boys” so to speak, especially the freshmen. I have an open home to them all, if they just want to get away from the “college life” scene and get a home cooked meal, do some laundry, watch T.V. or just plain sleep. But if I had to pick a second favorite, it would have to be both of Lil’ Mike’s Sunday Morning Brunch partners at my house, who are:

Bill Walker, because I’ve grown closer to him since we have been here, especially since he and Lil’ Mike are dorm mates and I have also followed Bill’s high school and AAU careers over the years. He really has a great personality, even though he drives me absolutely crazy sometimes.

And Ron Anderson, because he a fellow D.C. Assault “brother.” Ron is a gentle giant and fun to have around. I like to hear how excited he gets when he speaks about all of his accomplishments that he has made since arriving here at KSU and the goals that he has set for his immediate future.

(BONUS) 8. And, of course, is it true you’re going to be submitting a weekly entry for K-Stated called “Mama Sayz…”?
Absolutely! I have been called on so be sure to check back next week to hear what “Mama Sayz”!

I GOT FIVE ON IT… Montrell McDonald

You always hear about kids having offense-ready games for Division I basketball, but what about defense? That’s what’s so intriguing about Cowley County Community College guard/forward Montrell McDonald. The 6-foot-6 McDonald is a sophomore for the Tigers, who are opening their season tonight in Bethany, Okla., against Southern Nazarene JV. McDonald, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, began his college career at George Washington University, the seventh man on a team that was ranked in the Top 10 for most of the year. In 20 games with the Colonials, McDonald averaged 4.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 13.1 minutes. He added 12 steals and five blocks, but also 28 turnovers and 38 fouls.

What does it all mean? I asked McDonald, who is being recruited by K-State.

1. Where do you stand with K-State and why? Who else is in the picture? When is a decision coming?
I’m interested in them, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. Oregon, Kansas, Colorado, Miami and Iowa. .. I haven’t been up there yet, but I plan on going up. Our season begins tonight, so I’ll probably go up at the end of the year. (J-Mart question: So that’s when you’re going to make a decision?) Yes.

2. Impressions of Frank Martin and the staff?
My impression, from the conversations I’ve had, is he’s a great guy, someone who is ready to help you move on and be successful.

3. Why did you leave George Washington?
I was a little homesick, going through a lot of personal problems. (J-Mart note: Cowley coach Steve Eck said McDonald was concerned about his ailing grandmother, whose condition has improved.) I was going through things where it wasn’t the place for me. (Coach Karl Hobbs) is a good guy, but at the time. … That was a great team to be a part of.

4. Coach Eck said you weren’t like anyone he’s coached in his 31 years on the bench, but he also said that he’s heard others compare you to Stacey Augmon, the former UNLV star known for his defense. Do you know who that is, and is that accurate? Or is it just one of those things because you’re both thin, athletic and left-handed?
I’ve heard about him, but I don’t know him personally. I’ve seen a few of his highlights. (J-Mart question: Are you similar?) Yeah, we’re similar. I just play hard on both ends of the court. I like to get out on the break and do whatever it takes to help the team win.

5. This is a little weird, but bear with me. How would you stop Montrell McDonald? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how would you, as a defender, attack each?
I might play off a little bit, but it depends on certain situations. If I hit a few shots, I might sag. If I missed a few, I’d be up. Usually, I’m up on someone if I don’t know what they’ve got. Most schools are excited more about what I can do on the defensive end. They know with hard work I can get there on offense.

(BONUS) 6. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? One thing not a lot of people are aware of?
I watch “Walker, Texas Ranger.” (Laughter) When I was younger, I always hung around elderly people and they were watching it, so I did. I watch it with my coach now. (More laughter).

- Eck said McDonald sat out last season. He attended Redlands (Okla.) Community College in the second semester, where Eck was coaching, but did not play basketball. As for McDonald’s decision to leave GWU, Eck said, “Sometimes you go too far from home right out of high school.”

- According to the coach, McDonald is “very quick. He can guard, and his jump shot is getting better and better. … He’s a solid guy on the court. He’ll go out there and play hard all of the time. When he goes hard, he’s pretty darn good.” McDonald is viewed as a leader instantly, Eck said, because he has played Division I basketball already. “He knows what it takes to get there,” the coach said. “He’s liked by his teammates. He’s not a bad kid. He’s a good kid.”

- The entire K-State coaching staff is involved in McDonald’s recruitment, Eck said.

I GOT FIVE ON IT… Chris Harper

Talk about physical freaks – the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Harper runs a 4.38 40, has a 40-inch vertical and he bench-presses 315 pounds. That makes him a natural for this week’s "Five" – that and the fact he’s seriously considering K-State.

1. Where do you stand right now? How many head coaches have you spoken to?
It’s K-State, Missouri, Illinois, Notre Dame, Cal, Oregon and Miami (Fla.). Miami just came by today and saw my highlight. (Assistant) Coach (Michael) Barrow came in and left a couple of hours ago. … I’ve talked to every head coach of every school that was talking to me, including Florida and USC. But not Nebraska. (J-Mart note: Go figure.)

2. How many of those schools you just mentioned are legitimately recruiting you at quarterback?
As of right now, three of the five schools (that Harper has offers from) are offering me as QB — K-State, Illinois and Missouri. (J-Mart note: Notre Dame and Cal want Harper as an athlete). Oregon has seen my film. They just got it and they like it a lot. Miami saw it, too, and we’ll see what happens.

3. With your athletic ability, do you model your game after someone like Illinois’ Juice Williams? If so, how do you respond to the people who scoff at your efforts to be a Division I quarterback?
Man, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. Kind of thought about it. I used to watch Michael Vick all of the time. More in college, the first year in the NFL. … All of the mobile quarterbacks, but I watch Peyton Manning, too. I try to take something from everyone. As for the talk, I’ve heard it. I kind of laugh at it. I’m not trying to brag, but I’m third in the City in passing. (J-Mart note: Harper has completed 49 of 89 passes for 678 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception in eight games). I understand, though. … There are people who say I can’t play receiver or running back because I don’t like to get hit. Anywhere I play, I’m going to have to deal with that kind of talk.

4. This is a K-State blog — hence the title. What are the positives and negatives about K-State?
The positives? Everything is a positive. The town is kind of a downfall, but it’s not bad. When you get to college, it’s all the same. Illinois (Champaign) isn’t great, and Notre Dame (South Bend) isn’t too big. (At K-State) the offense is different than what I’ve been in. I’m looking at the quarterbacks they recruit, and they’re all these bigger guys, all 6-foot-5 or more. I know they run the option a little bit, like once or twice a game. That’s the bad thing. The fans are great, and it’s an in-state school. A lot of people know me up there, so the support will be there. The coaching staff is great. Overall, it’s the best staff I’ve talked to. Real personable. That’s the only school where I know all of the coaches and have all of their numbers.

The negatives? I don’t have any doubts about K-State. But for a quarterback like me, that can run. … I know (Ron) Prince had mobile quarterbacks at Virginia and I know he also recruited the Vicks. It’s just the system, and that’s what I’m looking at right now.

5. When is a decision coming? Is it too late for other schools to get involved?
I’m not sure when I’m going to make a decision. (Northwest, currently 6-2 overall and 4-2 in City) has qualified for the playoffs and we’re just playing for a seed. It’s going to be hard, to finish my official visits, with my schedule. Games are on Fridays, and we watch film on Saturdays. I don’t know how I’m going to take visits, and I’m not going to make a decision until I see all of the schools. I haven’t been to Cal or Oregon yet. I might to wait until Signing Day (Feb. 6). ESPN sent me something about doing it on-air. … I was planning on enrolling early, but now, wherever I go, it won’t matter. If I was a receiver, I could pick that up real quick. And if I’m a quarterback, I’m probably going to red-shirt.

As for other schools, if Virginia Tech — they called a few times earlier this season — called, then maybe I’d listen. They have a history of running quarterbacks. … West Virginia or Florida, maybe. But I’d have to go see those schools myself (J-Mart note: he means unofficial visits).

(BONUS) 6. Was Kansas ever in the equation?
KU offered me, but I’m not going to say anything about them.

I GOT FIVE ON IT … Bill Snyder

Can’t front — this made my morning. “The Man” was chipper, happy to answer all of my questions — when I explained they came from you, the readers. Makes me wonder if our job as journalists would have been easier all these years if we’d used that approach all along. Enjoy.

1. If you could pick 3 offensive and 3 defensive players you coached to start a team with, who would they be?

My gosh. (Laughter). I probably need some time to think. My heavens. … A lot of guys leap to mind. There isn’t anybody we’ve had that played and didn’t handle themselves appropriately. Some guys who come to mind are Quentin Neujahr, who came to us very early. He was a tremendous leader in our program. Chad May — Quentin was the center and Chad was the quarterback. Michael Bishop, also a quarterback, such a competitive young guy. They were all such competitive young guys. Right along with them, Darren Sproles. Kevin Lockett comes to mind, another excellent leader. Jamie Mendez … I’m getting beyond five, aren’t I? He was a tremendous leader in our program as well, one of the younger guys. You have to mention a guy like Darren Howard, who was an impact player on defense. … There are a lot of others. And I’ve left out probably a hundred players, a lot of guys who had a tremendous impact. If we were going to start over with a team, I’d have to list at least 120. (J-Mart note: The Man politely admonished me for not having a tape recorder handy. I promised to do better the next time.)

2. What opposing coach from the Big 8/Big12 gave you the most headaches?
Well, again, I’d have to preface it with it’s factual — they all give you headaches. If you’re not ready to play every week, you’re going to get exposed. There were some tremendous coaches, but I’d have to say Tom Osborne, because I don’t think we ever beat Nebraska when he was there. But the conferences have been full of tremendous coaches.

3. Other than coaching, if you could have done anything else what would it have been?
I don’t mean to be evasive with these things, but I grew up and knew that was the natural progression — you participated in sports, finished your education and went into coaching. That was how my life was laid out, not by anyone in particular, just by happenstance. I think if I hadn’t involved myself in coaching and ended up coaching, I probably would have continued in the teaching field.

4. What was the best coaching opportunity you were offered while at KSU?
I’ve always promised I wouldn’™t expose the interest of anyone. … I would think the number would be close to … There was a period of time when it was somewhat frequent. I never addressed it. … I responded, allowed people to know I was flattered, whether it was college football or NFL, and I was humbled by it. But I didn’t want to pursue it any further. There was never any doubt in my mind. I wasn’t going to leave K-State.

5. Did you like recruiting?
Some of it I enjoyed. It was a pleasure to get to know a bunch of people, to spend time with them. Spending time in the homes of young people — I have probably been in every type of environment you could imagine. Some of it wasn’t enjoyable, and that dates back beyond K-State. The rules were different, and how people abided by the rules was different — again, way back before K-State — and that wasn’t satisfying at all. From time to time, you ran across certain individuals that weren’t pleasant to be around. Not pleasant at all. But by and large, the vast majority, probably 95 percent, of the people you had to be around in that process was enjoyable. To lose someone you worked diligently with to get to come to K-State, no, that wasn’t enjoyable. (J-Mart question: You didn’t lose many of those, did you?) We lost our fair share.

(BONUS) 6. Do you think your style would have gone over well in the NFL?
A lot of people say coaching is coaching, regardless of the level. I always wanted to believe that. The systems are different, the expectations are different, and the age group is different. One of things I always said, that with my commitment to K-State, I never wanted to be involved in NFL. As we saw times change, I didn’t want to be in a situation where players made more money than the coaches, for obvious reasons. I’ve been privy to many experiences where that’s not a comfortable place for a coach to be.

I can’t say how much I respect that man. What a treat.

I GOT FIVE ON IT… Dave Hoskins

The 6-foot-5 guard/forward (keep reading) is anticipating big things this season at Kansas State. “The Beast” speaks in this week’s installment:

1. If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Lil’ Wayne (with Playaz Circle), “Duffle Bag Boy”

2. How have you adjusted to playing for your fifth coach in five seasons?
I’ve adjusted well. I know Coach Martin. This is probably the most comfortable adjustment I’ve had.

3. Which K-State coach did you enjoy playing the most under?
I’d have to say Coach Huggins right now. But I know for a fact the things Huggins has instilled in Coach Martin, and it’s going to be a wonderful year. Coach Martin will be the best or most enjoyable I played for, judging by the number of wins we get.

4. Any one newcomer the fans will be surprised, aside from Mike Beasley?
I think they’ll be pretty surprised by all of them. What one doesn’t have, another one does. … You’re going to be surprised at how athletic Andre Gilbert is. He’s going to be a big key. He’s jumping with the rest of them. … They’re going to be surprised at how good of a shooter Jacob Pullen is, surprised at how quick Fred Brown is.

5. What part of your game have you been working on the most this off-season?
Really my jump shot, especially my range. I feel like I was mostly shooting the mid-range jumper last year, but I’ve stepped it up outside. Coach Martin said he’s going to play me mainly at the ‘2’ or ‘3’ because I’ve convinced of that, that I can handle it. They already know I have the heart, ability and strength. … But this is what my position is. K-State hasn’t seen me play that position because we’ve never had a post player. But they’ll see this year.

(BONUS) 6. If you’re penciled in at the ‘2’ or ‘3,’ care to predict a starting five?
That’s not my position, but Coach Martin will put this five best players on the court at a time. That will help us, and that should give people an understanding of what we’re going to do this year.

As always, keep the suggestions and questions for a future ‘Five’ coming. Peace, y’all.

I GOT FIVE ON IT… Yamon Figurs

Caught up with Yo, who is making an impact as a rookie on special teams with the Baltimore Ravens. He scored his first NFL touchdown last week against the Arizona Cardinals, a 75-yard punt return.

1. Was the debut what you’d expect it to be? What about the touchdown?
(The debut) was pretty good. Everything was discplined, there was great blocking. Of course, the speed of the game was faster. (On the touchdown) The play was dialed a little different, but that’s the NFL. They over-pursued a little bit. Devard (Darling) had a good block and Ed Reed had a good block to spring me.

2. Explain the differences between Bill Snyder, Ron Prince and now Brian Billick.
They’re three different head coaches. It’s crazy. But it all boils down to the same thing — getting the players to play. Coach Snyder was the most different. He knew all aspects of the game, but he had a different way. He was more of a coach’s coach. Prince? He’s a people’s coach, a player’s coach and a coach’s coach. … They each have their own way, but they all get their point across.

3. Who’s faster, you or Devin Hester? There’s history there, right?
We were in the same conference in high school (J-Mart note: Hester went to Suncoast High in Riviera Beach, Fla., and Figurs attended Westwood High in Fort Pierce) in football and track. I’m faster. It was proven. We ran in state track meet against each other and I won. It’s on paper. I think he’d agree.

4. Did the Texas game essentially get you drafted?
No. When I visited other teams before the draft, they showed me film from other games, tackles I made on special teams. … It was my all-around play, how I did as a wide receiver. The more you can do, the better.

5. Are you coming back to Manhattan for the Baylor game? It’s the Ravens’ bye week.
Yeah, I’ll be back for the Baylor game. (J-Mart note: I asked, on the sideline?) Yeah.

There it is, the third installment. I’m looking for future "Fives," so keep the suggestions coming. The questions, too. I used a few that were submitted and a few of my own.

I GOT FIVE ON IT… Bill Walker

Sorry for the delay. Here it is, episode 2:

1. Do you regret following Bob Huggins to Manhattan?
No regrets. I believe it was the best decision that I could make. I’m in a good situation now. Not a lot of distractions, and I can get myself prepared for the next level. I don’t feel I made a bad decision at all.

2. How has your knee injury made you a better player?
It made me focus on different parts of my game. I can’t rely just on my athleticism. I have to be more well-rounded. I have to know when to attack and when not to. I just became smarter.

3. What other sports besides basketball do you follow?
Football, of course. Right now, my favorite team is the New England Patriots. … My boy Randy Moss. He has a bad rap for not working hard, but he’s got that blue-collar attitude (in him). He’s from Marshall University, which is right around the corner from my house. (J-Mart note: I asked if he liked my Cincinnati Bengals as well) Yeah, I rooted for them to beat the Ravens Monday night. But I can’t cheer for them when they play Randy.

4. What’s your favorite Manhattan restaurant?
I like Applebee’s and Chili’s. No favorite dish. I usually try everything off the menu. I experiment.

5. You recently went to Berry Farms to play with Mike Beasley and Team All Daz. Who has the best streetball, the ‘Nati or D.C.?
I’d probably say D.C., but. … D.C. has more pros, more exposure. Gilbert Arenas played on my team. Man, I didn’t know he was that short. (J-Mart note: I asked how short) About 6-foot-3. He’s a terrific ballhandler. You don’t get to see it on TV. … He’s himself. That’s what so surprising. He signed this big deal, but he’s the same guy he always was. That’s why I like him.

6. BONUS – Who is your favorite musician?
Man, that’s tough. My favorite CD is 50’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” He sounded so hungry on that. (J-Mart note: I asked if he’d bought “Curtis” yet) No, I have to go get that soon.

Special thanks to pissclams for the questions, and no, I can’t believe I’ve typed that handle  twice now on this blog. Remember, next week is Yamon Figurs, so send me some good stuff in the comments, as well as potential future Fives.


I GOT FIVE ON IT… Frank Martin

Welcome to the first of what will be a weekly installment. Hope you all enjoy. This one, with the new K-State men’s basketball coach, was fun and enlightening…

1. You can switch places with one of your players for a day. Who, and why?
Clent Stewart. Because I’d like to be his age, 21, as a college senior. Compared to today’s seniors, who are 23 or 24, he’s so young. His maturity level, how he conducts himself at such a young age, how he battles such a serious situation like he’s going through with his mother (Vanessa Stewart is fighting cancer) — I’d like to see the world he views it. He’s been taught the right way. … With so many possible distractions, he continues to not allow those things affect him. I’d like to see life through his eyes.

2. What has been the best part of this job? I don’t know if there is one thing that jumps out. … You’ve caught me off guard with that. To be completely honest, the thing I never experienced before, is having no worries about how to pay for my children’s education and my mortgage.

3. Ever get tired of purple?
No, actually. I never, until I got here, wore anything purple. It’s grown on me. I think, actually, I wear it all of the time now. I enjoy it. I think it’s a hip color.

4. Is there a “dream job” for you, kind of like your predecessor and dear friend Bob Huggins?
Growing up the way I did, as the first person in my family to attend college, when I attended college — first at  Miami Dade and then at Florida International — I didn’t have ties to a major university where I said I wanted to coach their program one day. I took a different path. I started coaching at a age when most guys are still playing. My whole ambition, my whole dream job is to be coaching a team that is competing in the Final Four. I’ve never had one school to say, ‘That’s the one.’ So, no, there isn’t one school that would be considered a dream job for me.

5. What is your view of the local media? Likes? Dislikes?
I’ve been pleased. Really, I have. … For the most part, (the treatment) has been fair. It’s all you can ask for. The media has a job to do, just like I have a job to do. I have no complaints. I just want to make sure that the truth is told, the truth is reported and the media is being fair while doing it.

- Martin said the Wildcats will undergo media training in order to prepare for the demands the team will face this season, but mostly in the future. “It’s something I think is important,” he said. “I don’t want to coach guys who don’t want to play professionally. Now, does that mean they’re all going to make money? No. But if they have a chance to be a pro, they’re going to have to deal with the media. It’s just a matter of helping them prepare. Because once you leave college, it’s a business.”
- Martin, like a certain blogger, is a Boston Red Sox fan, stemming from his days at Northeastern although he’s from Miami. While he was in Miami, coaching AAU basketball, he befriended a future New York Yankee. Alex Rodriguez, according to Martin, was a “(heck) of a basketball player.” Rodriguez, a point guard, played for Martin when he was 14 years old. Martin still raves about his basketball ability. “He could make money playing the game,” he said. Martin said Rodriguez couldn’t hit when he was younger. It wasn’t until his junior year of high school, according to Martin, that A-Rod began to hit. Martin said he is trying to lure the mega-star to Manhattan this winter for a game.