Pullen Calls Out His Teammates

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Normally it's the coach that calls out a team, but Tuesday night, it was junior guard Jacob Pullen serving as voice of the Kansas State basketball team. The pointed words came following an 83-76 victory over Division II Fort Hays State in Bramlage Coliseum.

This time, Frank Martin didn't have to do the screaming … Jacob Pullen did the talking for him.

No one has felt the visual/verbal wrath of Kansas State's basketball coach more in the last two years more than Mr. Pullen.

Especially in Pullen's rookie season in 2007-08, the 6-foot guard was verbally lashed in front of sellout crowds in Bramlage Coliseum game after game.

If not in words, at least in play, Pullen occasionally bucked the Martin system that first season, and to a lesser degree, even again last year.

But today, the two are on the same page serving as best buddies as a coach and player can be. Martin has Pullen's back, and after Tuesday's 83-76 victory over Division II Fort Hays State, it was Pullen that had Martin's back.

"I think we still have people who are not buying into Frank's system," said Pullen, who scored 20 points and handed out five assists .

"My freshman year I had my struggles because one night it worked, and the next night I wasn't listening to him. You can see the people who have bought in because those are the people he plays."

Pullen wasn't finished.

"If you don't buy in, you're not going to play. He's not going to waste his time with you," Pullen said.

Tuesday, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts and Rodney McGruder did not play at all, while Curtis Kelly and Wally Judge played just six and five minutes, respectively, and all in the first half.

While appearing like it was a "do it my way" message sent, Martin insisted, "I don't send messages to anybody through playing time. I play guys who deserve to play. Guys that don't deserve to play aren't going to play. That's the way I am. It's not going to change."

Addressing the current freshman class, Pullen said that the adjustment has been tough for some in making the move from the high school ranks when "… you do things that you want to do. You know that you're the star player. You practice hard only one day out of three because you're the star."

With today's newcomer class, Pullen says, "They're not focusing during a three-hour practice. They're not buying in to what he wants to do. (Pause) Some are thinking, ‘Well, sooner or later he's going to say I recruited you, so I'm going to have to play you.' But that's not Frank. Hopefully, they will buy in before they're not here."

Pullen and senior guard Denis Clemente have emerged as the leaders of the team in action, and with Pullen, also in the spoken word.

"I try (to communicate and lead players), but it gets to the point that it's tough. You still have to focus and prepare yourself for a game.

You can only want so much for someone. They have to want it themselves," Pullen said. "I try, but at the same time I have to go through Frank's practices and make sure I'm doing things right."

Martin said he appreciates Pullen's attempt to lead, but says, "When other guys aren't following, that's where we, as coaches, step in.

We decide the guys who deserve to play, and guys who don't deserve to play.

"If they don't want to be here, then they can leave," Martin said.

The Wildcat coach added of the practices this week, "A couple guys on the team will have their manhood challenged. They're either going to step up and join us, or they will quit."

While Clemente and Pullen know the K-State X and O sets, Pullen said, "We have two players playing hard, but three others who don't know what's going on. There are times when we call a set and you just see people who have no clue. You have people looking around not knowing what to do."

Pullen went as far to say that the knowledge of what's needed at the Big 12 level starts before the team hits the floor. "

You look at people in your locker room and try to think, ‘What are they thinking and how are they preparing?' Then when you go out and certain people don't perform to their abilities, you figure they weren't ready for the game, or they over looked the game. Those are the only two options."

Like Tuesday night against a far lesser talented Fort Hays State team that played K-State tough for the entire 40 minutes.

Saying it wasn't anything against Fort Hays State, Pullen said, "There's no way they should be in the game with us, but when you allow people to boost their confidence and believe they're equal with you … they fought us the whole game. They played hard. They didn't come in here intimidated. They had already played on the big stage at KU."

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