Wildcats Return to Work

Kansas State is 8-3 11 games into the year with three more tests prior to opening Big 12 play against Oklahoma. To coach Frank Martin, K-State's success this year will be determined by accomplishments during the next two weeks.

It's a goofy time of the year for basketball coaches and their team.

The third week in December is one of taking finals, studying, going through group practice sessions, followed by more midnight-oil study sessions, last-second projects, more finals ... and then ... a last-second basketball game.

K-State won that game on Dec. 20 over Centenary, and then immediately headed to Kansas City International for flights to see family for the holidays.

The Wildcats made return flights to Manhattan on Saturday in preparation for a Wagner game on Dec. 30, followed by two more preseason games against Idaho State on Jan. 3 and Chicago State on Jan. 5 prior to the start of Big 12 play against Oklahoma on Jan. 10.

"It's good to have five or six days to rest our bodies and forget about basketball," said senior Darren Kent. "When we get back, we won't have to worry about school and we'll have time to get focused and ready to get those three wins before moving into the Big 12 season on a high."

To coach Frank Martin, this upcoming two-week period will be vital to the Wildcats' success during the eight-week grind of 16 Big 12 basketball games.

"This is a time were there are no finals, no tutors, no other people on campus other than coaches and players," Martin said. "It's a time for us to blossom as a basketball team.

"During the season we're harness with the amount of time we can be on the floor because of what the rules say," Martin said. "But these next two weeks we can be in that gym for as long as we need to be to bet better."

Martin said the routine would be to practice, go back for naps, lift weights, go home to relax, and come back to the gym for extra shots.

While sporting a relatively fancy 8-3 record, each Wildcat knows that the team had a non-passing grade in its three toughest tests against Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon by a total of nine points.

While Kansas State's "game" is to push the tempo, Martin said, "We need work on our half-court offense. We have young guys continuing to learn their roles as to when to shoot and what shot to look for."

On defense he added, "We need to have a changeup from our man-to-man defense. You can't get people out throwing 98-miles per hour all the time. You have to throw in something a little different at times."

And, the goal will continue to be to develop more depth, which has been a K-State plus through the first 11 games of the season. Eight different Wildcats are averaging at least 17 minutes of court time per game.

While Jacob Pullen leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game, Denis Clemente and Jamar Samuels are both in twin figures at 12.2 and 10.2, respectively.

But in addition to that, Darren Kent (9.8), Fred Brown (9.5) and Dominique Sutton (7.9) are each within one basket of double figures. Not only that, but Kent (6.0), Ron Anderson (5.5), Sutton (5.1), Luis Colon (5.1) and Samuels (5.1) each average at least five rebounds per game.

Of the team's balance and depth, Martin said, "It's who we are. If you ask me today, you ask me last year, you ask me next year, I'm going to be consistent with my answer. I don't believe in playing basketball with five, six, seven guys.

"It's my responsibility to build depth. The way you do that is by getting guys on the floor and making them understand how to do things the right way," Martin said. "It's been a run group to coach. The guys are committed to doing the right thing."

If there is a trouble area is in assist-to-turnover ratio, which is just a bit better than one-to-one.

K-State has been 8-3 in each of the last three years at this stage of the season.


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