Frank Martin is having fun. It's the kind of fun that comes with saying something once, and it's understood. The kind of fun that comes when working with nine returning players from the season before, even if names Michael Beasley and Bill Walker aren't on the roster.
"It is that next step in growth," the Wildcat second-year coach said. ‘It is obvious that we are much better on defense than we were a year ago. It has nothing to do with subtraction, but all to do with nine returning players."
Beasley (26.2, 12.4) and Walker (16.1, 6.3) averaged 42.3 points and 18.7 rebounds between them, which one and all understand will not be replaced by any two Wildcats on the current roster.
Still, sophomore point guard Jacob Pullen says, "I think we can have a better team because we have more guys who can score. On that given night, Denis (Clemente) can score 30, I could score 30, DK (Darren Kent) can get hot outside and score 20, Ron (Anderson) is shooting more. We're going to have a lot of guys to guard.
"Everyone's role will change because we need to replace those points and boards," Pullen said. "We'll just be getting more shots for more people."
"I don't feel the pressure to replace Mike," Kent said, "but I do know I need to score more, but that's never a bad thing when coach says you need to shoot the ball a little more."
And for each Wildcat, that will mean giving a bit more than last year when they settled into their respective roles, and perhaps subconsciously thought ... let Mike do it, or, Bill will do it.
"I'm not sure if we held anything back, but we also knew that things were going to work through those guys and that's the rhythm and groove we got in," Kent said. "The rest of us were supposed to contribute a few baskets, but it's going to be different now."
Martin said Herrera had surgery on the same foot "a couple years ago." Herrera is out of his walking boot, but its uncertain when he will start practice.
Martin said the 6-foot-10 Herrera is still "big as a house," but said he's dropped 40 pounds from his 295-pound playing weight last year.
K-State will play an exhibition game against Washburn on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m.
The first official game will be Nov. 14 against Florida A&M at 7 p.m.
2008-2009 WILDCAT ROSTER
Jacob Pullen, 6-0, 200, Soph, Maywood, Ill.
Anthony Downing, 5-11, 160, Fr, Atchison, Kan.
Justin Werner, 6-3, 190, Fr, Topeka, Kan.
Luis Colon, 6-10, 165, Jr, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Denis Clemente, 6-1, 175, Jr, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Dominique Sutton, 6-5, 210, Soph, Durham, N.C.
Curtis Kelly, 6-8, 250, Jr, Queens, N.Y.
Buchi Awaji, 6-3, 210, Jr, Jacksonville, Fla.
Chris Merriewether, 6-3, 210, Jr, Jacksonville, Fla.
Jamar Samuels, 6-7, 215, Fr, Washington, D.C.
Victor Ojeleye, 6-6, Fr, Ottawa, Kan.
Ron Anderson, 6-8, 255, Soph, Upper Marlboro, Md.
Darren Kent, 6-11, 230, Sr, Apple valley, Minn.
Abdul Herrera, 6-10, 265, Jr, Miami, Fla.