Walker and Beasley Look to Lead

It's only early December, but Kansas State's basketball team is letting the first phase of the 2007-08 season get away without making a splash.

The 5-3 Wildcats have yet to notch a significant non-conference victory, which was the very thing that played a role in keeping them out of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

George Mason is a team receiving Top 25 votes, Notre Dame is of NCAA postseason quality, Oregon is a Top 20-type team, and Kansas State just lost to all three of those teams in the last 10 days.

What's remaining are dates against California on Sunday in Bramlage Coliseum, and a Dec. 31 contest at Xavier as the only opportunities where K-State can get one of those "good" non-league wins.

"We have some growing up to do," said Bill Walker following Tuesday's loss to Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden.

Since going 2-1 in the Old Spice Classic (wins over Rider and Central Florida, and a loss to George Mason), coach Frank Martin has been disappointed in being in position to win games late, but falling to Oregon in OT (80-77) and then to Notre Dame, 68-59.

"It's a little disappointing," Martin said Tuesday night. "I thought one of the lessons we should have learned in Orlando was that you play a good basketball team, fight, get a lead, then protect it and win. Obviously, over the last two games, we have not done that."

Kansas State's only wins have been over Sacramento State, Pittsburg State, Western Illinois, Central Florida and Rider. None of those will be considered a "good" win with the NCAA selection committee.

Prior to opening Big 12 play at Oklahoma on Jan. 12, K-State will host California on Sunday, play Florida A&M in Kansas City, entertain Winston-Salem State and Wagner, play Xavier in Cincinnati, and host Savannah State.

By the end of that stretch, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey predicted that the Wildcats would be a player in the Big 12.

"They're very good. They're young," Brey said. "By mid-January, I think they're going to be really in gear because they're extremely talented."

And that starts with Michael Beasley: "He's a special talent," Brey said. "He's young right now and just learning to play college basketball. But what a naturally gifted young man.''


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