"We Need Relentless Discipline"

Last week we looked at Kansas State's inside folks, while today we listen to Frank Martin assess the two-deep of the three perimeter positions. It's a collection of talents at the top, and in depth, that few Wildcat teams have enjoyed.

If basketball teams are made around the perimeter, look for the Kansas State Wildcats to play deep into March.

Some say if you have two quarterbacks, or two point guards, you really don't have any. But nothing could be further from the truth than that with Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen.

Oh, and then throw in Dominique Sutton on the other wing, who a year ago was voted as the best pure athlete in the Big 12 Conference. As Wildcat coach Frank Martin says, "We have a lot of parts."

Clemente (15.0) and Pullen (13.9) led the team in scoring last year, and if not better scorers, Martin says both have enhanced their game.

Of Clemente, a 6-1, Sr, Martin marvels, "Denis just refuses to accept that anyone is better than he is. He's a grown man playing point guard. He has the experience to understand the peaks and valleys of the position."

Martin says Clemente's defense has improved "dramatically" and that he has the "ability, speed and toughness" to be a great defender. "His drive is just ridiculous. He is on a mission. He's about winning, which makes him special. He simply won accept the fact that anyone is better than he is. He doesn't say it, but he goes out and tries to earn it."

The Wildcat coach points to Pullen, a 6-0 junior, as a player who came as an offensive threat, but today "... has made himself into a defender."

As Martin points out, he was never asked to defend in high school, but he has at K-State where, as Martin says, "If one person is out of place for a second, it can break down the entire offense. We need relentless discipline, which was hard on him in the beginning. But he has listened, wants to be coached, and goes out on the court and does the things we ask of him."

A third point guard will be freshman Nick Russell, who will bring a different dimension to the position with his 6-4 length and 6-7 reach.

Playing the wing opposite of Clemente/Pullen will be Sutton, a 7.5 point scorer and 5.4 rebounder last year. That came after an abbreviated freshman year when he averaged 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds after transferring at mid-term.

"He got here and we had him in a game two days later. That first season was a blur to him," said Martin of his 6-5 junior. "We didn't get a chance to coach him because we were in the middle of our season.

"He came back last year expecting to make a quantum leap from two points to whatever, and two rebounds to whatever, and while he had some good games, he wasn't as consistent as people wanted to see," Martin said.

But what people forget is the fact that he did go from three to seven points, and from two to five rebounds.

"That's a pretty good improvement for a guy only two years out of high school when he played center," Martin said.

Chris Merriewether, a 6-3, senior, supplies Big 12 experience, plus outstanding leadership.

"He's an unbelievable high-character individual," Martin said. "He provides relentless energy and is a tireless worker who has earned his stripes and the respect of his teammates."

Supplying athletic depth on the wings will be freshmen Rodney McGruder (6-4) and Martavious Irving (6-1).

"Rodney is a strong athlete who already has an understanding of how to play," Martin said. "He provides perimeter shooting for us. He's a winner."

Martin says Irving has the makeup to eventually play point guard, but for the time is more suited to play off the ball.

"Defensively, he has the ability to be a lockdown perimeter defender. He's strong and athletic."


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