For the second consecutive game, Kansas State made some very good adjustments at halftime and out-bullied their opponent in the second 20 minutes. Behind dominating, double-double performances inside by Thomas Gipson and Jamar Samuels, and very timely shot-making by Will Spradling, the Wildcats advanced to 4-0 on the season with a 69-55 victory over George Washington.
Gipson had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Samuels added 10 and 10. Meanwhile, the Wildcats used great defense during a 15-1 run early in the second half the put the game out of reach.
What I noticed:
Excellent frontcourt play. Better, perhaps, than the majority of games last season for the Cats. Things are far from perfect, but the improvement displayed tonight is an excellent sign for K-State fans. This team looked like it had some swagger at times. Besides Gipson and Samuels’ double-doubles, Jordan Henriquez added 6 points and 11 boards. Solid.
Performances from the guards were average for the most part. Spradling was a bright spot with 14 points, but his shooting percentage was slightly below where I’d like it. Also, where is Rodney McGruder? I expect him to be a leader on this team, but his 7 points on 3/11 shooting tonight make me slightly nervous.
We saw about 15 minutes of really good basketball tonight. If K-State can increase that number to 25-30 on a regular basis, it will win more than enough games for an NCAA tournament birth.
A really tough stretch continues. K-State takes on Virginia Tech in its first game away from home this weekend, before playing West Virginia next week. The Wildcats should be satisfied to go 1-1 in those games, in my opinion.
Patience is not a word related to basketball very often. You have 35 seconds to take a shot. Just a few moments to get down the floor to play defense or risk giving up an easy basket. And I am pretty sure Frank Martin is not the type to give a lot of second chances.
When it comes to the 2011-12 Kansas State men’s basketball team and expectations of it from Wildcat fans, however, patience may be the key word.
Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly are gone. Besides both being dependable scorers, the pair were undisputed leaders on the hardwood. It took Kelly longer to fulfill that role, but by the end of last season he reached it.
A year ago, K-State was ranked third in the preseason polls nationally and was picked by some to win the national title. But after a few shaky performances and untimely suspensions, patience in the team’s ability to dominate was gone. Not only from the fans, but members of the squad itself. The season went into freefall, and had it not been for the leadership Pullen showed down the stretch, we might be looking on it now as the biggest athletic disappointment in school history.
Two games into the 2011-12 season, a reminder has been sent to the Wildcat fan base: the talent is there, but more patience is necessary.
It took a 14-point second half comeback for the Wildcats to win their opener over Charleston Southern, and K-State only scored six points in the first ten minutes against Loyola-Chicago last night.
Yet personally, I am still pretty high on what these Wildcats have the potential to do. I see improvement from the veterans and promise from the newcomers. But the fans need to give Frank Martin and his staff plenty of time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Part of the reason for last year’s underwhelming stretch, I feel, was due to the pressure put on that team’s shoulders by the fans who expected greatness from day one. Even the most talented basketball teams in history had their struggles early on.
After all the talk of how Pullen was better than ever and Kelly was ready to dominate inside, the pair of them probably felt too big a workload too early in the season, whether suspended or not. That feeling is contagious. It does not surprise me that the team rose and fell with the performance of those two seniors.
This time around, a different kind of patience is needed. As I stated, I believe the talent to win games against the nation’s best is there. But talent alone, as the 2011 Miami Heat taught us, doesn’t directly equal a championship.
Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez both excite me greatly. Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels have both leadership and skill. Will Spradling and Jordan Henriquez could be dark horse All-Conference selections for all we know. And I didn’t even mention Martavious Irving, Jeremy Jones, Shane Southwell, Victor Ojeleye or Adrian Diaz.
It takes time to put a puzzle together. Sometimes, it takes quite a bit of frustration and determination as well. And while we don’t have a picture of what K-State’s puzzle could look like when it’s done, I think hopes should remain high that it is a pretty one.
Besides, after four seasons of the best basketball K-State has seen in 20 years, doesn’t Martin deserve his shot to coach what he’s got around him? Do not hit the panic button too early. Plenty of madness is still to come.
Without Jacob Pullen, Curtis Kelly and Taelor Karr, the 2011 K-State basketball teams will have very new and different looks.
Completed in the last two days, so does the court the Wildcats call home.
Over the summer, the floor at Bramlage Coliseum has been replaced after seven years of wear. The new surface features many changes in design that athletics director John Currie says came from designers Ron Cook and Dave Smoller.
“It was a collaborative effort,” Currie said. “Ron and Dave are very creative guys. They came up with ideas based on feedback from our fans and coaching staff and came up with six to 12 options, which we submitted to coaches. We made sure we had a unanimous choice.”
The old surface was removed back in July and treated for several weeks at a facility in Appleton, Wis. After the removal and repair of damaged boards, the entire surface was sanded down to be painted with the new design. Once the new floor was sealed, it was sent back to Bramlage for installment, which took place on Sunday.
“The floor is basically rebuilt,” Currie said. “It gets broken down over time because it’s a portable surface, so events that take place give it wear and tear.”
The new design features K-State’s athletic font on each baseline and the east sideline, with a Powercat standing alone at center court. A darker color of wood stain was used on the interior of the 3-point line, and the Big 12 Conference logo is displayed on each end. Lastly, the purple perimeter of the out-of-bounds area is shaped as an octagon, to fulfill the building’s name, the “Octagon of Doom”.
The court cost approximately $40,000, and all expenses came from the 2011-12 budget.
Positive reviews are already coming in on the new surface.
“It’s nice to have a good floor like this,” junior guard Rodney McGruder said. “We played on it yesterday for the first time, and we can’t wait to use it more. It feels great to be back in Bramlage.”
McGruder said the old surface was ready to be replaced.
“You could definitely tell it was pretty old,” he said. “It was hard on your knees when you’d jump around on it. But this one feels great. I’m excited.”
Currie said he has received raving emails from people around the country who watched the new floor’s installation on webcam.
“The people I’ve talked to are very excited, including our coaching staff and players,” he said. “The floor is a good representation of the brand we are promoting.”
K-State’s football field at Snyder Family Stadium was replaced this summer as well, and the baseball team is currently getting a new surface of its own at Tointon Family Stadium. Along with the new basketball practice facility, to be completed next year, it’s safe to say the Wildcat athletic department has enjoyed a busy summer.
“We have tremendous momentum thanks to the leadership of President Kirk Schulz,” Currie said. “Our athletics vision is to have a model intercollegiate athletics program. Our first goal is a world-class student athlete experience, and we mean that for all of our student athletes. Not just one sport or another, but for all 465 athletes.”
K-State’s first contest on the new court will be a matchup between the women’s team and Oklahoma City on Nov. 3.