"Growth" is what K-State basketball coach Frank Martin wants to see in these early games to the 2009-10 season, and that maturing started Sunday with an 83-59 shellacking of Pittsburg State.
"We had five freshmen and Curtis Kelly on the floor for the first time at Kansas State," Martin said. "It's going to take time for them to get accustomed to this level of play. The speed of this game and the physical nature of the college game is something they never experienced in high school."
K-State's length and athleticism ended this game early. After leading 4-3, during the next 5:03 the Wildcats went on a 15-0 tear.
Going the other way, Pitt State committed eight turnovers and missed two shots during the period.
After leading 42-20 at the half, it was the Jacob Pullen show early in the second half as the Wildcat junior hit four treys in the first four-plus minutes as K-State tore out to a 58-24 lead by the 15:35 mark.
By game's end, K-State had five twin-figure scorers with Pullen's 17 being high, while Samuels added 16 off the bench. Clemente netted 14, while Kelly had a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards, and Nick Russell scored 10. Liking what he saw was Pullen, who also had seven assists and just one turnover.
"I didn't see anybody being selfish," he said. "As a freshman, you want to go out and say, ‘What do I need to do to shine?' We didn't have that. We played as ‘we' instead of ‘I' " K-State will next play on Friday in an official season opener against Loyola Chicago in a 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.
Of getting his first playing time in over a year, Kelly, a transfer from UConn admitted to being nervous: "I almost puked," he said. "It felt great to be on the floor. I enjoyed the moment, but it's hard to enjoy the moment when Frank is yelling at you. It snaps you back to reality."
A FAN OF HENRIQUEZ:
The lone freshman to start was Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, a 7-footer from Port Chester, N.Y., and product of The Winchendon Prep School in Massachusetts.
"I love coaching that kid," Martin said. "He's so receptive. He's like Bambi out there. When he has contact he's stumbling all over the place trying to gather himself.
"But he wants to be coached and he brings a length at the rim we haven't had," Martin said. "He got caught up on every single screen, so he gave up some easy baskets, but he's in there protecting the rim and he can be a good rebounder because he has good hands." Henriquez had six blocked shots in his 17 minutes. He scored two points and controlled six rebounds.
COLON DOESN'T PLAY:
While Luis Colon is practicing, Martin said there was no need to risk further injury to his hand in an exhibition game.
Colon suffered a broken bone in his hand in early-October and has been practicing with a brace on his hand.
"He took a shot in practice the other day with that brace on that would have hit a student," Martin said.