Clemente Co-Stars in Win

Kansas State unofficially got the basketball season underway Sunday with an 81-57 victory over Division II Washburn University. Jacob Pulled led the way with 21, but newcomer Denis Clemente also demonstrated he'll be a great complement to the Wildcats' backcourt.

Kansas State mixed a little bad with a little good Sunday afternoon to record an 81-57 exhibition basketball victory over Washburn University.

The difference was board play: KSU 52, WU 31. "Rebounding is something we've harped on for a month now. We talk to the team about it every day."

The harping was productive, as coach Frank Martin said, "Out of a normal defensive situation, I don't remember us getting beaten on the offensive glass. We made an effort to put bodies on people, and then the most important part, we went and got the ball."

Darren Kent led the board game with nine, while Luis Colon and Dominique Sutton snared eight boards, and Ron Anderson seven. The Wildcats were just as balanced in scoring with Jacob Pullen with 21, Denis Clemente 12 and Kent with 10.

After sitting out last year, Clemente, who also had six rebounds and five assists, admitted to being "a little bit nervous," but added that he thought he played "alright."

Oh, there were those "stupid turnovers," and nine missed shots (5 of 14), but honestly, those weren't all that concerning to Martin.

"He got the ball into a couple areas on the floor that against athletic teams you're going to turn it over," Martin said of his junior point guard. "But he got out of that, pushed the ball and got people shots.

"He took good shots, but they just didn't go down," Martin said. "That little floater that he shoots is his shot. If he shoots that thing 10 times, he is making eight or nine. He was a little wound up just like every player on our team was."

After missing his first six shots, Clemente's first make as a K-Stater was an NBA 3-pointer from the left wing as the buzzer sounded ending the first half.

One understanding his teammate's early jitters was backcourt teammate Jacob Pullen.

"It was his first time in a K-State jersey, so you're going to be nervous. You want the fans to like you and you want to make sure you don't mess up because you know Frank will get you, so you're really nervous," Pullen said. "The first time you want everything to be perfect."

Dubbed the fastest player in the nation with a basketball, Clemente also demonstrated the ability to be one of the game's best passers.

Two of his assists included a nifty behind the head inside feed to Jamar Samuels, and later, a half-court ally-oop to Samuels.

If there is an oops to Clemente's game, it's on the defensive end.

Just listen to Martin tell the story of his 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard's play at Calusa Prep in Miami, Fla.

Grabbing a plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi, Martin said, "This bottle would have scored on him in high school. You could have checked this bottle in, and that bottle would have gotten in the box score."

Defense continued to be Clemente's weakness at Miami, but now, Martin says, "To his credit, he's trying. He's gotten a heckuva lot better at it."

Clemente, who had a two-year scoring average of 7.4 points at Miami, defined his high school game as "... waiting to get the ball so I could go score."

But he now understands, "You can't do that here in the Big 12."

K-State will open the season for real against Florida A&M on Friday.

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