Big 12 Summer Update: Kansas State Wildcats

Posted by dnspewak on July 16th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writers Danny Spewak (@dspewak) and Jeremy Pfingsten (@jeremylp21) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list — Danny’s update on Kansas State. 

Kansas State Wildcats

2011-12 Record: 22-11, 10-8

Last March, I watched my first Frank Martin practice at the Sprint Center as Kansas State prepared to face Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. When I arrived in the middle of drills, Martin disappointed me. I wanted to see that nightmarish glare and personality I’d seen on television so many times, but he hadn’t cursed, screamed or even raised his voice yet. That lasted all of about 10 minutes. Almost on queue, Martin lashed out like the madman we all knew and loved, directing his anger not at one particular player but at the entire team in general. It was vintage Frank Martin. This summer, though, all of those returning Wildcats who dealt with Martin’s contentious personality will have a major transition to make. Martin mysteriously and unexpectedly left for a job at South Carolina, leaving KSU’s identity as a rough, tough, aggressive program in shambles. It’s now up to Bruce Weber to continue that culture by implementing his own style of play during the offseason. A highly successful coach at Southern Illinois and during the early part of his tenure at Illinois, Weber’s main challenge is convincing a talented group of returners he’s the right man for the job after his Illini program fell apart under him at the end of his tenure.

Bruce Weber Will Have to Find a New Color For His Tie at Kansas State

Summer Orientation: The most important “Summer Orientation” in Manhattan has to do with Weber and his staff. Shortly after accepting the head coaching job, Weber assembled a familiar crew of assistants. Most notably, he hired Chris Lowery, an old buddy of his from SIU who just lost his job with the Salukis after a downturn in the once-proud program (which Weber helped build). The two coached together at both Illinois and Southern Illinois, but Lowery’s not the only Saluki working on staff this summer. Brad Korn, the director of basketball operations, was a main contributor at forward under both Weber and Matt Painter (who took over in 2003-04) at SIU. And speaking of former players, full-time assistant Chester Frazier started for three years under Weber at Illinois. Weber also hired Alvin Brooks III, who had been working at Sam Houston State, to round out his staff.

Right away, Weber hit the recruiting trail and found Darrell Johnson and Michael Orris. Both have already made their way to campus, according to the Kansas City Star. As late spring signees, neither player is necessarily considered a traditional blue-chip recruit, but they both had several offers from other power-conference schools and immediately establish regional recruiting ties for Weber’s staff. Orris is from Chicago, and Johnson is from St. Louis, two areas Weber and Lowery could continue to hit hard in the future. Orris, a 6’2” point guard, had signed to play with Weber at Illinois before switching his commitment. The 6’8” Johnson, on the other hand, decided to sign at KSU in April.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 26th, 2012

  1. With so many statistics in college basketball, it’s hard to know what’s important these days. That’s why the good people at Basketball Prospectus are here to help us out. Corey Schmidt wrote an interesting piece about “and-ones” in the Big 12 Conference, and they apparently have been very kind to Baylor. Through January 23, only Oklahoma State had a higher and-one field goal percentage than the Bears, though that did not factor into their loss to Missouri over the weekend. It’s also fun to look at the individual numbers: Thomas Robinson, unsurprisingly, leads the league in and-one field goal percentage, followed by Quincy Miller. 
  2. With a lot of depth in the backcourt, Frank Martin has all kinds of options with his Kansas State team. That’s why he has no problem switching starting lineups. Martavious Irving, for example, has been replaced by Angel Rodriguez, but that’s hardly phased the junior guard. Irving, who says it’s an “easy process” coming off the bench, has played unselfishly in two games since losing his starting job and has earned praise from Martin for his willingness to do the little things. As a reserve, Irving says he’s “calmed down” a bit, and it seems to benefit everybody mutually.
  3. Yahoo! Sports’ Big 12 check-in this week focuses on Iowa State‘s NCAA Tournament chances, which actually appear to be in somewhat decent shape right now. The Cyclones need to earn a marquee victory, but they’ve won enough games to at least put themselves in the conversation. Fred Hoiberg has quieted the critics of his program so far this season — they said he was too inexperienced as a head coach, and that bringing in four high-major transfers would not work. He hasn’t exactly proven them wrong yet, but he’s on that track if ISU can steal a few wins over Kansas, Baylor and Missouri down the stretch.
  4. The Cyclones still suffered a disappointing loss to Texas this week, and Royce White says it’s his fault. White made just one of seven free throw attempts in a 62-55 loss, missing his last six shots from the charity stripe. At just a tad better than 53% this season, free throws are White’s biggest weakness this year. By the way, though, he actually had a double-double against UT with 15 points and 15 boards in that game. Royce, it’s hardly your fault.
  5. On the other side, the Longhorns’ star player actually did suffer through a rough night. J’Covan Brown shot 3-16 from the field, but his teammates picked him up in that seven-point win. Myck Kabongo led the team with 13 points and helped get players like Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan involved late in the game. Perhaps that’s a sign of a maturing team.
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After the Buzzer: On 800 Wins, Internet Humility, and Fantastic Freshmen

Posted by jstevrtc on November 24th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment. Yeesh, take your pick. On Wednesday morning the two games the majority of hoop aficianados were most looking forward to from Tuesday night will yield the headlines to a so-called undercard matchup between #3 Michigan State and Connecticut, the latter a team slated to be foraging for leftover scraps in the Big East this year. Jim Calhoun beamed after the effort shown by his players in knocking off the Spartans, saying after the game, “We proved to the world that we can play.” Also in Maui, the Kentucky vs Washington matchup was so intense they played through a freaking 4.7-on-the-Richter scale earthquake that nobody in the building seemed to notice centered 30 miles south-southwest of the island, and four time zones away, Duke gave Kansas State false hope for a half before turning out their lights and inscribing Mike Krzyzewski into the 800 victories book for a single school. Oh, and a game between Appalachian State and Tennessee Tech was cancelled because the former forgot to provide refs. All of this, a feast before the feast…on the day the Spectrum died.

Onward And Upward -- Coach K Earned His 800th Duke Win On Tuesday

Tuesday’s Quick Hits…

  • Connecticut Has A Pulse. And it’s strong. And its name is Kemba Walker. In 38 minutes of floor time in the Huskies’ capsizing of #3 Michigan State, Walker went 10-19 from the floor, 6-7 from the line, and added three boards, four assists, and three steals to his 30 points. Who cares that a kid’s getting up a shot every two minutes of game time when he’s producing like this?
  • Kyrie Lays It On. Kyrie Irving smoked Jacob Pullen as if the latter were a finely aged Cohiba Siglo. He took Pullen to the bucket several times, scored or got to the line, twice producing and-ones. Irving saw other defenders, but it was Pullen in front of him a good deal of the night; this matchup saw the freshman wood-shedding the senior to the tune of 17/5/6 asst/2 steals.
  • Unsung Wildcat Heroes, Take One. The talk will be about Terrence Jones‘ 16/17 (4-13 from the field) and Brandon Knight’s 24 points (he also had zero assists and eight turnovers), but the best line on the Wildcats’ side may have come from Josh Harrellson, the backup center many UK fans felt could barely qualify to be Enes Kanter’s personal assistant before the season. Harrellson had troubles with his handle, but in 34 minutes he contributed nine points on 4-6 shooting (one of those a trey), blocked two shots, and pulled in 14 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive end. DeAndre Liggins only added seven points and four rebounds, but he smothered UW’s Isaiah Thomas for most of the second half, frustrating him to no end (on which more in a bit).
  • Unsung Wildcat Heroes, Take Two. The only bright spot from KSU’s defeat was the play of their reserves. Four players — namely Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Martavious Irving, and Will Spradling — played at least 13 minutes (three of them were in for 20+), and they accounted for 47 of K-State’s 68 points, shooting 18-29 (62%) from the field. Could there be lineup changes in store for Frank Martin’s squad?

…and Misses.

  • Kalin, Not His Usual Ballin’. No particular player could be singled out as really letting MSU down, but Kalin Lucas would love another crack at this one. The Spartans actually shot better than UConn, but Lucas’ head-scratcher of a night consisted of a 4-12 shooting night, five turnovers and but a single assist. There won’t be many nights like this for Lucas this season.
  • The Sprint Center Floor. We had the privilege of being in the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Tournament last year. It’s a great arena for college basketball. Plenty of press seating, helpful staff, and even the distant seats in the stands aren’t bad. But for the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic tonight, its floor had ten temporary logos on it, causing it to resemble one of those NASCAR automobiles (I guess they do race for the Sprint Cup, don’t they?) or a jersey from an Australian pro league team.
  • Smeared the Beard. Jacob Pullen not only got schooled by a freshman in terms of how many times he got taken to the hole, but he couldn’t hit an elephant with a handful of rice on Tuesday night. Pullen will not have many 1-12 nights this year, and likely none in which he also throws in a defensive clanger like he did on Tuesday. But big games like this are not the time for these rare occasions to occur for the facially hirsute and usually excellent senior.
  • Isaiah Was No Prophet. When the Maui brackets were released a few months ago, Isaiah Thomas tweeted that he was hoping his squad would run into Kentucky, a sentiment fueled by the bolting of recruits Kanter and Jones to UK after committing to UW. The Wildcats’ DeAndre Liggins intercalated himself into Thomas’ DNA on Tuesday, and as a result the UW guard was flummoxed into a 4-14 shooting night, two of those buckets coming as cosmetic late layups when UK let its defensive intensity slip a notch in hopes of not fouling.

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Set Your Tivo: 11.16.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 16th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Tonight’s slate is loaded with quality games, mostly from the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

#21 Virginia Tech @ #3 Kansas State – 4 pm on ESPN (*****)

Seth Greenberg decided to beef up his non-conference schedule this year after being left out of the last few NCAA Tournaments and this may be his team’s toughest test. The Hokies enter the Octagon of Doom looking to make a statement and ease any NCAA bubble worries, at least temporarily. Most prognosticators say Virginia Tech will be a lot better than the bubble but that thought has to creep into the back of some fans’ minds at times. Led by Malcolm Delaney, four seniors return and all are starters. Kansas State has had some problems early on as coach Frank Martin benched senior Curtis Kelly against James Madison on Friday for not practicing with energy and needing to be a better teammate. His status for today’s game is unknown. Point guard is also a question for the Wildcats as Denis Clemente has moved on. All-American candidate Jacob Pullen can play the point but is better off the ball. K-State seemed to play point guard by committee in their first game as Pullen, Nick Russell, Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving combined for all 14 of the team’s assists. Kansas State shot only 53% from the free throw line, a problem that plagued them all of last season. Both teams like to play fast but also can get after it defensively as each finished in the top 20 in defensive efficiency last season. Virginia Tech is not a particularly good shooting team so that could play right into the hands of an active Wildcat defense encouraged by their energized crowd. The Hokies may have an issue with depth, especially early in the season when they’re trying to establish a rotation. With J.T. Thompson lost for the season and Cadarian Raines still out with a foot injury, Greenberg is down to seven major contributors. He’ll need freshman Jarell Eddie and Erick Green to step up and become threats off the bench. Kansas State needs to protect the ball and defend well in order to win. Va Tech was fifth nationally in steals and 36th in turnover percentage last year so they’ll be ready to exploit the uncertain K-State point guard situation. Virginia Tech may not have enough shooting to win this one but if Kelly is out, the door will be open for the Hokies to grab an important road victory.

#3 Ohio State @ #8 Florida – 6 pm on ESPN (*****)

ESPN wants to open Louisville’s new arena in prime time but this is really the marquee game of the Tip-Off Marathon. It features a Florida team that returns all five starters and is the trendy pick to win the SEC East and possibly make the final four. Ohio State, a final four favorite, returns four starters of its own and adds super impact freshman Jared Sullinger in the paint. Thad Matta’s Buckeyes have a good blend of youth and experience and are incredibly deep as a result of their terrific recruiting class. If you like three pointers then this is your game. Florida loves to shoot the three and so does the Ohio State backcourt led by Jon Diebler. The Gators struggled a bit in their opening win over UNC-Wilmington as they allowed the Seahawks to shoot 48% from the floor. Florida only shot 32% from behind the arc and they’ll need to do better than that if they hope to beat Ohio State. They’re also going to need players to contribute off the bench because as good as their starters are, you can’t rely on five players to carry your team. Erik Murphy should be the best bet, though a talented group of freshman should see their minutes increase as they settle into their roles in Billy Donovan’s system. Donovan, a Rick Pitino disciple, plays an up-tempo system that emphasizes pressing and three point shooting. For Florida to execute the press properly, they need a fresh stream of bodies coming in and out of the game. While that’s not as important in a single game, depth issues will take their toll as the season moves along. Ohio State is absolutely loaded with a powerful backcourt, frontcourt and bench. Diebler can flat out stroke it from deep and guys like Dallas Lauderdale and David Lighty add toughness and experience to their rotation. Florida needs a good game from senior leader Chandler Parsons and they just can’t afford to have Kenny Boynton go without a three again as he did against UNCW. The Buckeyes throttled North Carolina A&T in their opener behind 24/8 from freshman DeShaun Thomas. Another solid game from him or another OSU freshman could push them to an impressive road victory in the hostile O-Dome. This will be an unbelievably competitive and hard fought game but Ohio State’s depth and talent advantage gives them a great shot to earn a road win that will help build their resume for a possible #1 seed.

#12 Butler @ Louisville – 8pm on ESPN (****)

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