'Gameday' and 'Cats Share Their Love

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The gates to the Bramlage Coliseum parking lot opened at 6 a.m., and the doors to the "Octodome of Doom" at 8 all for the ESPN College GameDay event that was aired from 10 until 11. A record crowd of 8,159 poured into KSU's basketball home to demonstrate that the support for the Wildcats is like no other.

Kansas State's students scored a victory Saturday morning as 8,159 braved the single-digit temperatures to set an ESPN College GameDay attendance record in Bramlage "The Octodome of Doom" Coliseum.

"I continue to be so impressed with the passion of all K-State fans and today was a prime example of that," Athletics Director John Currie said. "The enthusiasm and support they bring to the arena is what distinguishes them as the best fans in the nation. We want to thank Nick Dawson, Dan Steir and everyone at ESPN for choosing Manhattan and K-State as a destination for College GameDay and we look forward to welcoming them back again in the future."

"To have that kind of crowd for our show is off the charts," said Jay Bilas of the GameDay cast.

"We knew this was going to be a good atmosphere but to learn the stories behind all of the traditions here, such as ‘Every Man a Wildcat' and the Wabash Cannonball, was really neat. There is a lot of tradition here at K-State but now being back in the Top 10 - everyone knows what Octagon of Doom means and who Frank Martin is."

ESPN showered the Wildcats with love as they made the program's Elite Eight – Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State – for the March NCAA Tournament.

In addition, Digger Phelps, clad in a purple shirt and purple striped tie under his pinstriped suit, went as far as to say with the quartet of Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen "... have what it takes, not just to beat Kansas tonight, but a team that can get to the Final Four."

Hubert Davis, however, pointed out that a team like Kansas can beat a Texas on one night, and turn around and defeat an Oklahoma State in the next game. In reference to last week's KSU win over Texas, but loss to Oklahoma State, Davis offered, "Kansas State has yet to get to that point."

Back on the plus side, Bilas pointed out that "… no team in the nation plays harder than Kansas State."

Included in the 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ESPN event was a segment where the Wildcat players gave their best impersonations of coach Frank Martin. Of Martin's glare, Jamar Samuels said, "If you look back at him, you're going down. The best bet is to look at the floor, or look at someone to his back."

To get back at his players, Martin was asked for an impersonation of Pullen. The Wildcat coach good naturedly quickly stuck out his lower lip in a pout mode: "When I'm looking at him he just rolls out that lower lip," Martin said. But overall, Martin, and the players, came back to the unity in the program as the key to being 17-3 and ranked No. 11/13 in the country entering the Kansas game.

"It's not just about the two and a half hours that you're in the gym together. It's about preparing these guys for life," said Martin. "I've been down the same walk that they're going through. I come from the same kind of background that the majority of them come from.

"It's about making them understand when they're my age, they have to be a father and they have to keep a job," Martin continued. "It's not just about playing basketball, but it's about utilizing this opportunity that comes with basketball to make a lifetime out of it."

GameDay host Rece Davis went on to ask Martin about his sideline antics with the Wildcat coach simply saying, "Its who I am. Maybe I don't fit the mold that people are creating for coaches now, but all I want is to get the best out of everyone in our program so they can take advantage of this opportunity."

In the final prediction segment, it was Davis that picked Kansas to win because of "… the way Cole Aldrich is playing," while Phelps went with K-State with the quartet of Pullen, Clemente, Samuels and Kelly "… getting it done," and, Bilas went with Kansas because "… offensively and defensively they're among the top two teams in the country."

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