By Jeff Goodman
Frank Martin has made three NCAA tournament appearances in his four seasons since taking over at Kansas State.
But now what?
Michael Beasley and Bill Walker have been gone a while, but Jake Pullen successfully took the torch and made certain there was no fall-off.
Martin’s record since that shocking day on April 9, 2007 in which he was tabbed as Bob Huggins’ successor is 95-43. He’s 40-24 in Big 12 play and the team has never finished lower than fourth in the league.
At Kansas State.
He’s been to an Elite Eight and has reached the second round of the NCAA tournament twice.
However, most people anticipate a significant drop-off now that Pullen has graduated – and Martin also lost his associate head coach, Dalonte Hill, who went back home to Maryland.
I doubt it’ll happen.
The roster doesn’t blow you away. The leaders will likely be guards Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling are expected to lead the team – and there are plenty of somewhat anonymous names littered up and down the group.
But Martin likes this group. Sure, he’ll miss Pullen – but my guess is he won’t miss dealing with Curtis Kelly and his immaturity all that much. Wally Judge, simply put, couldn’t handle Martin’s “accountable approach” and is now at Rutgers. Nick Russell wasn’t a Martin-type player, either, and he’s history.
Martin needs guys that buy into his approach – which is simply put, playing hard and following the rules. Being accountable.
Martin is hoping that Spradling will quickly become the team’s full-time point guard, but he’ll have competition from freshman Angel Rodriguez out of Miami. McGruder, who is healthy after battling knee problems most of last season, is just one of a handful of guys back that earned a spot on one of the league’s three All-Big 12 teams.
The frontcourt is the question mark.
Jordan Henriquez is long and has the potential, but now he has to become consistent – even dominant. Martin and his staff brought in freshmen Thomas Gibson, whom he calls a Jason Maxiell clone, and Adrian Diaz – as well as junior college combo guard Jeremy Jones and former St. John’s guard Omari Lawrence.
``We’ll be a lot more athletic,” Martin said.
The X-factor could be senior forward Jamar Samuels, who was inconsistent a year ago and didn’t quite live up to expectations, but has the ability to be a top-tier guy in the league.
When asked about Samuels potentially joining McGruder and Spradling as leaders, Martin – as is just about always the case – didn’t mince words.
``I’m done depending on him,” Martin said. ``For three years we’ve been trying to get him to be more consistent, more mature – and he hasn’t done it.”
``If he’s right, he’s right,” he added. ``If not, we’ve got other guys in place.”
You may not recognize their names, but with Martin, that’s not necessarily what he needs – or wants.
K-State's Frank Martin's anonymous roster
By Jeff Goodman