Clemente's Play Not A Concern for Martin

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Big 12 play begins Saturday for Kansas State at the University of Missouri, and no one is more ready than Wildcat point guard Denis Clemente. While mired in a shooting slump, Clemente, last year's Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, says the "luck" with his shot is about to change.

Denis Clemente is not worried about his shot: "Not lucky," he summarizes.

Denis Clemente is also not worried about his overall game: "Not at all. We're winning and I'm doing things right. I'm doing what the team needs … but not making shots." No, he's not.

Clemente, K-State's leading scorer last year (15.0) on 41 percent shooting overall and 40 percent from 3-point range, is scoring today at a 14-point per game clip on 38 percent overall shooting, and a chilly 29 percent from beyond the arc.

To those numbers, Wildcat coach Frank Martin says, "I'm not concerned because he's taking the right shots, but they just haven't gone in consistently. They're both (Jacob Pullen and Clemente) playing the right way, but the ball is going in for Jake, and not Denis. Last year it was inverted. There was a stretch where the ball was going down for Denis, but not Jake. That's the beauty of having two guys. The ability to play the game is not based on the ball going in the basket. It's based on defending, passing and running the team."

In those three areas, Clemente gets three grades of "A."

The 6-0 senior leads the team in minutes played at nearly 33 per game and has 59 assists to just 21 turnovers.

"I run the team. I'm making the extra pass, the steal," said Clemente of his play for the No. 10 ranked and 13-1 Wildcat team. "The best player on the court goes everything. He defends, rebounds, steals, passes the ball, makes the ball … that's the best player on the team. That's what I'm doing."

Martin recognizes that fact, Clemente recognizes that fact, and so does backcourt mate Jacob Pullen.

"As a team we're playing well, and the thing about it, Denis hasn't gotten hot yet. He's shooting OK, but not scorching yet," said Pullen. "If Dom (Dominique Sutton) and Jamar (Samuels) continue to play well, and Denis gets on fire, that's when we will be a Top 5 team in the country. We'll be hard to beat."

Clemente has no concerns that his "luck" with his shot is about to change.

"Last season it was the same way," Clemente said. "Big 12 play started and I went crazy, so I'm not worried about it."

And he adds that the bigger the game, the better he'll play: "That's the way I look at it. Play the big team, I play a big game."

Last year Clemente averaged just 13 points per game in the non-conference, but 18.4 points in the 16 Big 12 Conference games. The big games? Try 44 at Texas, or 26 against Kansas, or 33 at Missouri.

And this year, Clemente has enjoyed his best outings – 22 vs. UNLV and 21 against Dayton – against teams ranked No. 18 in the nation.


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