Tag:Kansas State Wildcats
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:02 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Who knew Frank Martin was a sunny, pie-in-the-sky optimist? Talking to Seth Davis the other day, the K-State head coach expressed that he felt good about his team's chances to come from sixth place in the Big 12 to make the Big Dance.
There's little doubt that his team will have the chances, but they've shown little ability to take advantage of those opportunities. He lists third-leading scorer Curtis Kelly as a player who must excel for his team to make the postseason push, which may raise an eyebrow or two, considering that Kelly is under internal investigation for the second time this season.
K-State is currently tied with Colorado in sixth place in the conference, so Saturday's game in Boulder is huge for either team's hopes. If Martin can exhort his remaining troops to victory in that matchup, he gets in-state rival Kansas in the Octagon of Doom, which could be his biggest and best chance to make the selection committee sit up and take notice. After that, February 26 vs. Missouri and February 28 at Texas are the remaining big games.
If the Wildcats lose all three of those, they'll be without a real statement win in conference. If they lose to Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska or Iowa State, only a miracle run to the Big 12 title can save them.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2011 3:54 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Last season, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and his protege, Kansas State's Frank Martin, put on postseason runs that were the envy of most every other program in DI basketball. Martin's Wildcats made the Elite Eight before falling to Butler, and Huggy Bear took the Mountaineers all the way to the Final Four. The former co-workers both used the same ear-splitting style to get the most out of their players. Martin, these days, has the reputation of being the most intense coach since one Robert Montgomery Knight patrolled the sidelines.
This season, however, both have struggled to repeat their success. The Wildcats are 14-7 and have fallen to 10th place in the Big 12 with a 2-4 mark. West Virginia is better off, going 13-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big East.
The losses can be explained by many different factors: graduations, injuries, suspensions, you name it. What is more unusual is the number of incidents in which young players seem to have given up, or just tuned their coaches out altogether. Jacob Pullen has publicly stated that he won't play an NIT game if the Wildcats don't garner an NCAA berth in his senior season. His teammate, Jamar Samuels, said he was unphased by Martin's shouting, and lackadaisically promised to give that whole "leadership thingy" a try some day. Huggins has had it far worse this week. Freshman Noah Cottrill quit the team formally, sophomore Dan Jennings wandered out of the arena in the middle of a game, and leading scorer Casey Mitchell was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
Clearly, these kids aren't getting the message, and it's not because they need the volume turned up.
Before the season started, ESPN the Magazine ran a piece by Seth Wickersham that explored the psychology of Huggins, Martin and a few other shouters.
In some cases, screaming can be incredibly effective. Under pressure, some athletes become lost in their own heads, thinking about the task at hand. Such stress wastes precious resources that could be turned to solving the problem.I've never been screamed at or coached by either of these men, so I can't judge the intent behind their shouting. The piece also points out that Coach K is a screamer, and he's won multiple national championships. In fact, he'll soon pass his own mentor, world-class verbal depth charge dropper Bob Knight, on the all-time DI wins list. It's impossible to say from this remove how yelling works in each situation. Heck, most of us yell at one time or another -- I know I do -- it's human nature to crank up the decibels when you're not being heard.
If I were to hazard a guess, and I am, I'd say that the yelling probably takes on a more frustrated tone when your team is slumping and suffering from sky-high expectations. The words might cut a little deeper when a player is mired in his own secret self-doubt. To quote the Boss "You end up like a dog that's been beat too much, til you spend half your life just coverin' up."
On the other hand, some of these kids need to imagine what it's going to be like some day when they're working at a retail store or sitting at a desk, and a sharp-tongued boss reams them in his office. At that point, the ramifications of talking back or walking out might mean the rent doesn't get paid next month. I've been in those situations, you probably have too. Sometimes it's worth it to quit, sometimes it's not. I'd have to think a free ride through college, with tutors and a support system, might be one of those situations where discretion is the better part of valor.
Bob Huggins, Coach K and Frank Martin can't suddenly change the way they motivate. It will be transparent and most likely fail. But yelling is a blunt instrument, and it can be backed by caring. Huggins showed where he's coming from last March, when he knelt at floor level to console a badly injured Da'Sean Butler. I believed then and still believe that Bob Huggins showed the world what's underneath that gruff exterior, and it's likely that most of his players feel that. Frank Martin has not yet had that moment, and it's entirely possible that he doesn't have it in him right now. Perhaps he'll mellow with age.
It will be interesting to see if it's all over but the shouting in Manhattan, KS.
Posted on: January 15, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 2:54 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
According to a press release from Kansas State University, forward Freddy Asprilla is leaving the Wildcats. Here is the release in its entirety:
Kansas State head coach Frank Martin announced Saturday morning that junior forward Freddy Asprilla has left the men’s basketball team.Morale in Manhattan must be at an all-time low, at least the lowest since Martin took over. With the suspensions of Kelly and Pullen, followed by Pullen's public statement that he would refuse to play if the 'Cats made the NIT, things were already looking bad, but losing a big body (one that hadn't even been around that long) is a serious blow to a team that was supposed to ride depth and experience to a deep tourney run this season.
Asprilla began his DI career at Florida International, where he averaged 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. After spending a transfer year at K-State, his numbers were less impressive in the 2010-11 season thus far. It's likely that he would have found his place on the team this season or next, but that potential will have to be realized somewhere else at this point.
Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 4:07 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
As Colorado prepares to visit the Octagon of Doom in Manhattan, Ks., tonight, one question keeps popping up in my mind: Is Colorado on the way up?
It's not a ridiculous notion. There are some extremely skilled basketball players on the CU roster, led by Alec Burks, who scored 36 points to fuel a home rout of #8 Missouri on Saturday. That's an impressive showing for the sophomore, who is considered to be an NBA prospect. The knock has been that he doesn't help his team win, an assertion that was not refuted by early losses to San Francisco and Harvard - pretty much resume-killers for a team hoping for an at-large bid to the Big Dance.
But this hot start to the conference season could make those bad losses fade in memory if the Buffs can continue to play up to their potential. CU has been an excellent ball-control team all season long, ranking in the top five in turnover percentage. That the team now ranks third in that statistic, even after facing the vaunted Missouri press, is an indicator that it's a real phenomenon.
The ball-handling kudos can be somewhat attributed to Burks, but senior guard Cory Higgins is the steady hand at the tiller most nights. Both he and Burks draw plenty of fouls, making opponents put good shooters on the free throw line. Less familiar names contribute to the offensive onslaught as well. Forward Marcus Relphorde and guards Levi Knutson, both seniors, play very efficient roles when they're on the court, as does junior Austin Dufault.
The elephant in the room (or, more pointedly, absent from the room) is defense. The Buffaloes are mediocre at best at stopping opponents, and that even takes into account a December 4 game in which they held Oregon State to just 57 points. They're better at interior defense than perimeter D, which could mean another big win when they face Kansas State tonight. The Wildcats are good but not great from deep. Where Frank Martin's team excels is in snagging rebounds, so it's crucial that Burks and his teammates exhibit patience and find high-percentage shots; not an easy task against the boys in purple, in what is sure to be a hostile environment for the visitors.
In short, Alec Burks is a superstar, and he can take over a game when neccesary. In that respect, he gives Colorado the advantage over K-State, which gets uneven effort from senior leader Jacob Pullen. However, when Frank Martin's troops focus on denying the ball to Burks, his experienced and somewhat undervalued teammates must make them pay.
If they can, Colorado might be the surprise of the Big 12 season in their final go-round before joining the Pac-10.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 4:44 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
Sure, Jacob Pullen was a bit off-base when he compared his redemption story to that of Michael Vick.
However, his self-motivational tactics seem to have worked. Pullen came back and scored 24 points in a rout of Savannah State on Monday. More encouraging, he dished the ball five times and turned it over just once. Sure, he did it against one of the worst teams in DI, but a look back to December 6 shows that he managed six TOs against Alcorn State of the SWAC, which is a comparable level of competition.
Pullen has historically been at his best when he has something to prove. His three battles with fellow Chicagoan and former KU point guard Sherron Collins last season were entertaining displays of one-upsmanship. Nothing this season has brought about the same focus.
The Wildcats got spotty contributions from guards Nick Russell, Will Spradling and Juevol Miles while Pullen sat. If you don't think he noticed, made a gut check and resolved to remedy the situation when he got back on the court, you haven't watched the senior play.
This is Pullen's last go-round in the Big 12, and the season kicks off at Oklahoma State on Saturday. After that, it's Colorado and Texas Tech at home before the tough stuff starts with a trip to Columbia, Missouri to face Mike Anderson's speedy Tigers. If the senior can maintain his focus through the yawn-inducing portion of the schedule, he may finally be in the right headspace to deliver on the promise implicit in K-State's preseason top-5 ranking.
Jacob Pullen should be playing mad. Mad at himself. Mad at anyone who comes into the Octagon looking to knock him off course. Mad at the haters who will wave signs and chant reminders of his indiscretion when he's on the road. Mad at the impending end of his college career.
Angry Jacob Pullen will forestall that final game as long as he can. Those of us who watch the games will share in the fun.