K-State grants Wally Judge his release

Kansas State has officially granted Wally Judge a release from his scholarship, according to a team spokesman.

The sophomore forward, who quit the K-State basketball program in early February, is now free to discuss transfer options with other schools. The Wildcats now have two available scholarships, and can add two new players during the spring signing period.

There has been uncertainty about Judge’s status with K-State for a few months. He has stayed in school and attended sporting events throughout the semester, leading some to speculate he could rejoin the team next year or simply gave up the game. But both seem unlikely now.

Attempts to reach Judge have been unsuccessful, and Wildcats coach Frank Martin has said he hasn’t spoken with Judge since Judge informed him he was leaving the team.

Adam Zagoria reports Judge will take an official visit to Rutgers this weekend. Maryland, Florida and Minnesota are also believed to have expressed interest in the former high school All-American.

Underwood talks J.O. and playing time

For the second straight week Kansas State assistant basketball coach Brad Underwood allowed me to pick his brain on a few basketball topics. And for the second straight week, he had plenty of insightful comments to share.

Hopefully we can keep that going and turn this into a weekly staple on the blog.

The main topics this week: The surprising play of 7-footer Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds against Missouri, and the way coaches look at playing time as opposed to fans.

Did you have a feeling Henriquez-Roberts was going to give you a breakout performance?

“Jordan is a talented player. He had something going for him in that game. Missouri doesn’t have a tremendous amount of size. They’re not an overly physical team, but in a game of finesse, Jordan is very capable. He’s a guy who has great length and can finish at the rim.

“He’s got great touch. He’s a guy that was very active. Jordan is a tremendous presence on the defensive end with his ability to block shots.
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Postgame: Florida 57, K-State 44

There are many reasons why Kansas State has played less-than-impressive basketball lately, but it’s pretty obvious what the biggest of those reasons is this morning.

The Wildcats aren’t getting enough out of their frontcourt.

During an excruciating 57-44 loss to Florida at BankAtlantic Center on Saturday, starting forwards Freddy Asprilla and Curtis Kelly contributed a measly five points and five rebounds — combined. Jamar Samuels, outside of a few nice shots early and a decent defensive effort, could provide only five points and five rebounds off the bench.

As the game went on, K-State coach Frank Martin was desperate for a spark and sent Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, Wally Judge and Victor Ojeleye onto the court. None of them were effective against the Gators.

Much like their disappointing effort against Loyola Chicago, the Wildcats were outrebounded by Florida and unable to score second-chance points. Seriously, they ended the game with a whopping three. Though that stat does look better than the zero fast-break points they scored.

Martin brought in former banger Luis Colon to help the team and introduce a new level of physical contact to practices earlier in the week, and was at a loss trying to explain why that didn’t properly prepare his big men for Saturday’s game.

“I’ve got no idea,” Martin said. “As long as Rodney McGruder continues to rebound the basketball and our bigs don’t, I don’t know what to tell you. Read More »

Postgame: K-State 63, Wazzu 58

Will Spradling has been impressive all season, but he took his game to a new level Friday night at Friel Court by showing his clutch side late in a 63-58 victory over Washington State.

In front of a deafening student section, the freshman guard made two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to increase a narrow two-point lead to a more comfortable four. Free throws have troubled Kansas State all year, but Spradling stepped into a difficult situation and made the necessary shots under pressure to help his team win its first true road game.

A window into how Spradling kept his cool:

Leading by two points with 23 seconds remaining, K-State inbounded the ball to its best player, Jacob Pullen. Washington State had no interest in fouling the senior guard and trapped him with a double team. Spradling was supposed to be nearby to receive an outlet pass, but was out of position and the Wildcats called timeout. In the ensuing huddle, Frank Martin challenged Spradling.

“I told him, ‘You don’t want the ball at the end of the game? What’s the problem?’” Martin said. “He said, ‘Are you kidding me? Yes I want it.’ So I said, ‘Go get the ball.’”

He did. K-State ran the same play when it returned to the court with success and got the ball to Spradling. The Cougars saw a freshman with the ball and couldn’t foul him fast enough. With 16 seconds remaining, Washington State had the man it wanted at the foul line. But so did K-State.

“I knew he was making them,” Pullen said. Read More »

Postgame: K-State 76, Presbyterian 67

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.”
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Postgame: K-State 83, Newman 56

When Kansas State’s 83-56 exhibition victory over Newman was complete Tuesday night, Frank Martin was asked what he’d like to see his team improve on before taking the court this Sunday against Washburn.

After using 14 players and all kinds of different lineups, the Wildcats basketball coach could have said anything. I thought he’d point to his team’s 17 turnovers.

Turns out he saw no major flaws the first night out. This week in practice he’d like to see his team get a little better at shooting free throws (K-State made 21 of 40) and making one-foot layups (K-State made 39.7 percent of its shots).

Those, indeed, are some easy problems to solve.
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A few minutes with … Nick Russell

Nick Russell hopes to be one of the most improved players on the Kansas State basketball team this year.

The sophomore guard played only sparingly during his first year in Manhattan, but received a huge confidence boost this summer when he toured Europe with a team of other college basketball players and became one of the squad’s top scorers.

Playing time could be tough to come by, with Shane Southwell, Nino Williams and Will Spradling on the roster this year, but Russell is ready for the challenge. During K-State media day earlier this week, he talked about that and much more.

What is it like to be on a basketball team ranked No. 3 in the country?

It’s great. Three is incredible. From where we were last year to where we are now, that’s night and day different. No. 1 is our ultimate goal, and we are working hard to get there. Read More »

Notes from the Madness

After a year off, Madness in Manhattan was better than ever. Close to 7,000 fans crammed into Bramlage Coliseum on Friday and loudly celebrated the start of college basketball.

They were treated to speeches from players on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, an extremely funny video featuring Kansas State grad Eric Stonestreet and the cast of Modern Family, dances and all sorts of high-flying plays.

K-State coach Frank Martin loved every moment of it. He says the event is here to stay.

“Let’s have a party now, kickoff the season and then let’s all go work,” Martin said. “It went really well tonight, and our fans and players both deserve it.”
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Notes from the K-State basketball banquet

The biggest news to come out of Kansas State’s postseason awards banquet on Wednesday was Jacob Pullen’s announcement that he will likely return to school for his senior season without first testing the NBA waters.

But I have some other interesting factoids to pass along as well.

For starters, the banquet was sold out, and close to 500 people celebrated a great season on the floor of Bramlage Coliseum. Compared to four years ago, when coach Frank Martin was just arriving in Manhattan and 50 people came out to the Alumni Center, it was an enjoyable evening for everyone involved.

“It’s great,” Martin said. “That’s what this is all about. This is a night to honor these kids. It’s great that so many people show up and are excited about the program.”
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Live Blog: K-State vs. North Texas

Aside from a few shaky moments at the beginning, No. 2 seed Kansas State easily defeated No. 15 seed North Texas 82-62 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at the Ford Center.

With the victory, the Wildcats advanced to the field of 32, where they will take on No. 7 seed BYU on Saturday.

Against the Mean Green, K-State was led by Denis Clemente, who scored 17 points. Curtis Kelly and Jacob Pullen each added 15, while Dominique Sutton chipped in 12.
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