Martin Looks For ‘Fit' Over ‘Talent'

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Today is the spring NCAA national letter of intent signing day, but with three early signees last fall, no news is expected out of the Kansas State basketball office. With a quality roster in hand for 2010-11, coach Frank Martin is looking for chemistry on an equal basis with talent.

Kansas State's men's basketball program has one scholarship to give.

If the "fit" is right, coach Frank Martin says, "We have three or four guys that are interested in us, and we are interested in them." But if the "fit" can't be found, the Wildcat coach says, "Then we will not bring somebody in."

Martin went on to explain, "I am more concerned with get the right fit for our team than I am with a certain position or a certain level of talent. We have a good locker room. You cannot bring someone in who is a good talent, but will fight the locker room and fight the coaches. We have worked too hard for four years to have a locker room we trust, and I am not going to bring somebody in who does not fit."

K-State's roster next year will include three seniors (Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, Curtis Kelly), three juniors (Jamar Samuels, Victor Ojeleye, Freddy Asprilla), five sophomores (Wally Judge, Nick Russell, Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, Martavious Irving), and two freshmen (Will Spradling, Shane Southwell).

On the roster balance of freshmen for tomorrow, and seniors for the today, Martin said, "Fans like freshmen, coaches like seniors.

I think those freshmen are going to be great. When and how does that happen? That is for the future to tell. I like the freshmen class we had this year, and I like the guys we have signed.

It gives us tremendous balance for the future." The immediate voids to fill for K-State will be at the point guard position, and in the paint at center.

While Pullen played as a second point guard this season with Denis Clemente, Martin is one who likes to play with two. At K-State, that started with Clent Stewart and Pullen in 2008, and Pullen and Clemente in each of the last two years.

"I'm not a coach from 1947 where the point guard plays here, and the two-guard plays here," Martin said, "When I was in high school we played with two point guards. That's how I like to play the game."

So with Pullen being one, Martin's challenge is to find the second, whether that be Irving or Russell, or newcomer Spradling.

Of Russell, who played in 21 games, averaging seven minutes per game, Martin said, "Nick has to get stronger and he has to become a better defensive player. Those were the two weaknesses that prevented him from finding more success.

But with all that said, we need to realize that the guys that played ahead of him were pretty darn good. I think those battles that I saw every day in practice, are going to make Nick a better player and he is going to be a lot more prepared.

"Martavious needs to get better with the basketball in his hands. He was inconsistent with his shooting," said Martin of Irving, who played in 31 games, averaging 10 minutes per game. "But he brings a toughness factor and he was the most prepared defensive player of all of our freshmen guards and now he has to become a better offensive player."

And of Pullen, yes, there's even room for the Wildcats' first-team all-Big 12 guard and honorable mention all-American to improve.

"He has got to become a better decision maker. He was a little inconsistent in making decisions with the basketball in his hands. He made great decisions at times, but he also made poor decisions at times," Martin said.

"We have to have a better balance there. Jake's been great, but his challenge now is to become more consistent with the basketball in his hands."

The inside candidates to replace Colon are Henriquez-Roberts, a thinish 7-footer, and Asprilla, a bulky 6-10 talent.

Henriquez-Roberts averaged 10 minutes a game, playing in 26 games. He started the year at a lean 238 pounds, but by the end was down to 220.

"When you play against big, physical teams, he would just bounce off the people," said Martin. "He lost weight and he lost strength."

Martin hopes through a better diet and time with strength coach Scott Greenawalt, that Henriquez-Roberts can bulk up to 250 pounds by next season. While Colon was somewhat of a paint defensive enforcer, it's the portion of the game that Asprilla will have to learn.

"He gives us the low-post scorer that we did not have this year," said Martin. "Freddy gives us that legitimate 270-pound back-to-the-basket guy, who can score and pass the ball. The challenge with Freddy is that he is the opposite of Luis. If Freddy is willing to grasp the defensive side of it, then he will be a big-time asset to our program."

2010-11 KANSAS STATE ROSTER

GUARDS

Martavious Irving, 6-1, Soph
Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Sr
Nick Russell, 6-4, Soph
Will Spradling, 6-3, Fr

PERIMETER

Rodney McGruder, 6-4, Soph
Jamar Samuels, 6-7, Jr
Shane Southwell, 6-7, Fresh
Dominique Sutton, 6-5, Sr

INSIDE

Freddy Asprilla, 6-10, Jr
Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, 7-0, Soph
Wally Judge, 6-9, Soph
Curtis Kelly, 6-8, Sr
Victor Ojeleye, 6-6, Jr


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