'Cats Prepping for Thursday Tip-Off

MANHATTAN, Kan. - It all starts Thursday in Oklahoma City where Kansas State plays North Texas in a 2 p.m. start at the Ford Center. It will be the first of six potential "Dances" in the 2010 NCAA Tournament as this winningest team in K-State history tries to give the school its fifth trip into the Final Four. Big 12 Coach of the Year Frank Martin believes it's a team with all the pieces.

It's the big picture that coach Frank Martin focuses on.

Asked Monday whether the stinker of a loss to Iowa State in the last regular season game did the Wildcats any good, Martin laughed as he said, "I threw that tape away. We're into concentrating on all the positives of the year rather than one negative."

The K-State design of that big picture shows a record-setting 26 victories for this single season, with 13 of those coming against Big 12 teams, including the Big 12 Championship. Five victories have been over ranked teams and 10 of the 26 wins have come outside Bramlage Coliseum.

All are territories never bettered before by a K-State basketball team.

Today, whether it's the Iowa State game, or all the good that has come from the season, Martin says, ‘It's all irrelevant. Now it's time to refocus on the challenge at hand. We don't want to be concerned about any one game that has just been played, but be concerned with what this entire season has taught us, and how it's prepared us for postseason play."

Martin has a firm comfort level on how prepared this Wildcat team is for the potential six-game "Dance" ticket in the NCAA Tournament. He will tell you that a team needs good guard play.

Kansas State certainly has that with the 1-2 mix of Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. Two players, the Wildcat coach says, "… have accepted coaching and guidance, and have continued to lead us."

Heart and soul leadership, plus scoring 35 points between them on an average night doesn't hurt, either.

Martin will tell you that a team needs size. With a collection of the bulk of Luis Colon, the athleticism of Curtis Kelly, the length of Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, plus the relentless pursuit of rebounds from the wings by Jamar Samuels and Dominique Sutton has K-State playing with size.

Martin will also tell you that teams need depth. K-State has a starting-six, including Big 12 "6th Man Award" winner in Samuels, and without great fear, the Wildcat coach can give the nod to any one of the other six players for short minutes.

Teams with those three areas covered – guard play, size and depth – Martin says, " … are teams that have a chance to make a run in the tournament. It's what we've tried to develop.

It's what you have to have to compete in the Big 12, and the recipe that wins NCAA Tournament games."

Martin added, "I'm not sure if we're quite where we need to be, but we're closer than we were four years ago."

Compare this team to any other in K-State history, and a case can be made that it has a chance … it has a chance … to be the best of them all.

Yes, more games are played today, and it's a Top 25 instead of a Top 20, and there are seedings today, and not in yesteryear, but still it's a star-status resume that is on equal standing with any of the 11 previous K-State teams that, just for comparison sake, advanced to the Elite Eight.

2010 – 26 wins (most in school history), No. 7 national ranking, five wins over ranked teams (tied for most in school history), and a No. 2 NCAA seeding (highest in school history)
1988 – 25 wins, No. 20 ranking, three wins over ranked teams, and a No. 4 NCAA seed … Elite Eight
1981 – 23 wins, unranked, four wins over ranked teams, and a No. 5 tourney seed … Elite Eight
1975 – 20 wins, No. 15 ranking, two wins over ranked teams … Elite Eight
1973 – 23 wins, No. 9 ranking, two wins over ranked teams … Elite Eight
1972 – 19 wins, unranked, two wins over ranked teams … Elite Eight
1964 – 22 wins, unranked, one win over a ranked team … Final Four
1961 – 22 wins, No. 4 ranking, one win over a ranked team … Elite Eight
1959 – 25 wins, No. 1 ranking, two wins over ranked teams … Elite Eight
1958 – 22 wins, No. 3 ranking, three wins over ranked teams … Final Four
1951 – 25 wins, No. 4 ranking, five wins over ranked teams … Final Four
1948 – 22 wins, (prior to polls) … Final Four

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