Dominique Sutton hopes his game has arrived after a self-admitted bit of a sluggish start to this 2009-2010 season.
Even he says of the first four games of the season, "The first few games I was not in it mentally."
In those first four games, the 6-foot-5 junior scored just 21 total points and snared but 10 rebounds.
Then came the 70-57 victory over UIPUI when Sutton scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, plus controlled six rebounds and had three assists.
That was followed by Saturday's 86-69 victory over Washington State when Sutton had a season-high with 16 points, plus six boards, three assists and four steals.
In the last four games to K-State's 7-1 start to the year, Sutton has scored 40 points and snared 22 rebounds.
Not only that, but it was Sutton who mirrored the every move of the nation's leading scorer in Klay Thompson, who was held to 5-of-15 shooting in Saturday's 17-point win over the Cougars. "Dom's been great," said K-State coach Frank Martin. "He's his own biggest critic, but his effort is always good."
While most of Sutton's points come in transition and off offensive rebounds, Martin said, "As coaches, what we've tried to do is better involve him in what we do offensively and play to his strengths instead of his weaknesses. I think that's happening. Then when he makes offensive plays, I think that gives him more energy on the defensive end."
Not as an excuse, but as a possible reason, Sutton said of not being sharp early, "My knee kind of slowed me down in the off-season, but I have just been working hard in practice, which has made me work hard in the games."
In all honestly, Sutton's game elevated two weeks ago in Puerto Rico where K-State scored an 83-75 victory over No. 18-ranked Dayton in the game for third place. Sutton had eight points (3-of-3 from the field), grabbed seven boards, plus had three assists and two steals.
"That's as aggressive as I've seen him with the basketball in his hands," said Martin. "He made a couple big-time offensive plays in the second half."
Sutton, who scored 3.3 per game as a freshman and 7.5 last year, said his primary game is "… penetrating and dishing for dunks or easy shots. That's what I want to do … get to the lane and make things happen."
While others have said, "If only Dom could get his offensive game going," that's the last thing on his list of concerns.
"Personally, my game starts on the defensive end. That's where I get my game going. That's where I try to play with a high intensity level and generate an enthusiasm for the team," Sutton said.
No one appreciates Sutton's work on "D" more than Martin, who pointed back to the lone loss to Mississippi as an example.
"He picks up his fourth foul with 15 or 16 minutes left and we went into a funk defensively and let the game get away from us," said Martin. "He's a huge part of what we try to do."
While Martin emphasizes that it's "five guys acting as one" that makes the defense go, he adds, "When you take him (Sutton) out of the equation, you're putting in a less experienced guy who is going to have breakdowns. When you have breakdowns, that affects the rest of the team."
A product of Durham, N.C., Sutton first attended The Patterson School where he helped that program to a 36-4 record and No. 3 prep school national ranking.
While averaging better than 15 points per game, it was on defense that he earned his name, and what Martin first appreciated during the recruitment process.
"I told him on the phone that playing defense was nothing new to me," Sutton said. "I told him that I would do anything to help the team win.
If that's defense, I will take that role and will take pride in it."