Hoop 'Cats Go To Work

Kansas State's basketball team is projected to be good enough this season that coach Frank Martin is saying it's the best team he's ever been around. The Wildcats opened practices this past weekend, and Thursday will be a part of the Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City.

Talent? Check.

Experience? Check.

Depth? Check.

Yes, this 2009-10 Kansas State basketball team seems to have all the parts needed for success.

Even third-year coach Frank Martin says, "We'll see, but we have a lot of parts. We'll just have to see how they grow and how they accept responsibilities to fill roles once the stands are full and the TV cameras are going."

Coming off three straight seasons of at least 20 victories, this Wildcat team has the talent of four returning starters, the experience of eight returning lettermen, plus a cast of newcomers that includes Curtis Kelly, a transfer from Connecticut, and a Top 25 five-man recruiting class headlined by McDonald's All-American Wally Judge.

"By far, this has been the best preseason we've ever had," Martin said of the work leading up to this past weekend's opening of practice. "In the past we've had individuals really working hard, but this year it has been team-wide. They've just been a fantastic group to be around in terms of their work-ethic and character."

He added, "We'll see, but we do have a lot of the parts."

Those parts include talents like Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen and newcomer Nick Russell available at the point; wing players like Dominique Sutton, Pullen, Chris Merriewether, plus rookies in Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving; and front-line players like Luis Colon, Jamar Samuels, Kelly, Judge and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts.

Clemente averaged 15.0 and 13.9 points, respectively last year, while Samuels contributed 8.3 and Sutton 7.5 per game. Sutton (5.4), Colon (4.7) and Samuels (4.7) were all among the leaders in rebounds for the 22-12 Wildcats.

And then there are the intangibles … like passion for the game.

"It's unbelievable … unbelievable," Martin said. "It's much higher (than other years) and we have unbelievable unity. They are developing a strong work-ethic and a sense of pride.

"No one is entitled to be a good player," Martin continued. "That has to be earned. These guys all came from the outside to Manhattan, Kansas. They've taken some lumps over the head together and they've grown in college life together. It's forced them to bond."

He added, "They've been pretty good for us, but not good enough."


Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Jr, Maywood, Ill.

Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, 7-0, Fr, Port Chester, N.Y.

Martavious Irving, 6-1, Fr, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Victor Ojeleye, 6-6, Soph, Ottawa, Kan.

Nick Russell, 6-4, Fr, Duncanville, Texas

Justin Werner, 6-3, Soph, Topeka, Kan.

Luis Colon, 6-10, Sr, Carolina, Puerto Rico

Denis Clemente, 6-1, Sr, Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Rodney McGruder, 6-4, Fr, Washington, D.C.

Dominique Sutton, 6-5, Jr, Durham, N.C.

Curtis Kelly, 6-8, Jr, Bronx, N.Y.

Chris Merriewether, 6-3, Sr, Jacksonville, Fla.

Jamar Samuels, 6-7, Soph, Washington, D.C.

Wally Judge, 6-9, Fr, Washington, D.C.

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