Beasley & Walker Helped Make KSU 'HIP'

Mid-October is upon us which means the start to another basketball year. Madness in Manhattan will take place Friday night in Bramlage Coliseum with the introduction of KSU's men's and women's teams. Missing from this year's "Madness" will be the greatest 1-2 punch in KSU history in Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. They're gone, but coach Frank Martin says, not forgotten.

Frank Martin says, "Purple is a hip color right now."

He sees it in the dress of news anchors. Last week, Larry King and guest Michele Obama were in identical deep purple attire.

And on the recruiting avenues he has traveled this fall, Martin says, "People are very receptive to our purple. Young kids know about Kansas State again. Purple is in."

In part, that's due to the Michael Beasley and Bill Walker impact that lifted the Wildcats back into NCAA Tournament play last season after a 12-year absence.

"They helped put us in the national television spotlight," Martin said. "People recognize the Kansas State name now."

The Beasley name is now popular with fans of the Miami Heat, and the same for the Walker name in Boston with Celtic fans, which leaves Kansas State to rebuild.

To K-State fans, Martin says, "If they don't believe in us by now, just sit back and watch us play. We didn't have Bill and Mike two years ago and we won 23 games, and now we won't have them this year."

It won't be easy to replace the 42 points scored and 19 rebounds snared by the two in 2007-08, but Martin insists that K-State was more than a two-man team last year, and there were seven other players who gained valuable experience.

"You don't replace Mike and Bill with a player, but you can try to replace them with multiple players with more experience," Martin said. "Darren Kent has developed his game, Fred Brown has developed his game, Dominique Sutton is playing with much more confidence."

Martin says where the Beasley-Walker tandem will be missed most is with their intangibles.

Of Walker, Martin said, "Bill was our standup guy in the locker room who forced people to believe in what he was saying. He had a strong-willed personality. He had the ability to make teammates say, 'If Bill says do it, we're doing it.' "

And of Beasley, the Wildcat coach said, "Michael gave you a guy that just never let you get too wound up. He had a personality that made you feel comfortable. He didn't allow you go get too up, or allow you to stay down because of what happened with the last game. He gave the team a sense of calmness."

Today, Beasley and Walker are trying to make the grade in the NBA.

Taken No. 2 in the overall draft by the Heat, Martin said of Beasley, "Obviously, Micahel was a special player. You don't do what he did in college unless you're a special player, and I think that will continue in the NBA."

Beasley debuted last week with 16 points off the bench in a loss to Detroit, and then scored 10 points in his second game that was played in Paris.

"He's a coachable kid and he's been diligent with his work when he's healthy and able to get out there," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But it's going to be a process. It's going to take some time because he doesn't naturally think defense first, which is pretty normal for a young player, so we'll have to rebuild some habits."

Walker played 11 minutes and scored eight points last Wednesday in an opening exhibition loss.

"He's not your typical rookie that thinks he's got it figured out already," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "He knows he has some catching up to do, but he's been a pleasant surprise." Rivers added of Walker's history of knee injuries, "Clearly, he would have gone earlier (in the draft) if he projected healthy. I think he would have been mid-first (round) definitely to low-first. But everyone was scared about his knee."

Rivers likes Walker's strength and the way he "attacks the basket," but says he needs to work on his ball handling. "If he comes off the cuts, he's going to live on the foul line." Rivers added, "Billy's great in transition. But I think Billy's going to be a great post-guard. I don't know if he knows that yet, but I think he will be."

With Walker, a second-round pick by Washington, and then traded to the Celtics, Martin's not surprised at River being so high on the ex-Wildcat.

"Bill's going to be a great pro if God allows him to stay healthy. He was one of the most unappreciated players in the country with us. It seemed like nothing Bill did was good enough for some, but he played an incredible role with our program."

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