'Cats Will Want Revenge

News, notes and quotes on the 267th meeting between KU and K-State on Saturday in Manhattan (the Jayhawks lead the series 176-90) while paying tribute to Wildcats' guard Denis Clemente's late second cousin and my childhood hero — baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

"The Great One," who starred for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 18 years in right field, died tragically in a plane crash on New Year's Eve, 1972, during a relief mission to earthquake devastated Nicaragua. He was just 38.
    
One of the all-time greats with a rifle arm, Clemente was an even better humanitarian.

"Anytime you have the opportunity to accomplish something for somebody who comes behind you and you don't, you are wasting your time on this earth," Clemente said in 1971.

WORRIED MARTIN

KSU head coach Frank Martin is deeply concerned about the Jayhawks, especially since KU is coming off a bitter 62-60 loss at Missouri on Monday. He has high praise for junior guard Sherron Collins, who scored 24 points during their last meeting on Jan. 13. KU beat K-State, 87-71, after coming off a 75-62 loss at Michigan State.

"I'm under the impression that Sherron is the best guard in the league," Martin said. "It's something about when he sees our color now; it's like a bull looking at red. He just plays his rear end off against us. We are expecting their best shot. I would like to play KU after they have won four or five in a row. Last time we played them, they lost at Michigan State by 15 or 16 and it was their home opener and we kind of walked into a buzzsaw. Now they are coming off a loss.

"I have so much respect for what Bill (Self) does and how hard his teams always play. We are going to line up and deal with a team that is kind of wounded right now. We have to make sure that we kind of match that and we understand that we have to go out and do it."

K-STATE: PAYBACK TIME

The Wildcats are hungry to beat KU after falling to the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse a month ago. Kansas jumped out to an 18-0 start over the Cats.

"This is what we've all been waiting for and it's here," sophomore guard Jacob Pullen said. "We went to their place and started out really bad. We didn't get a flow going on offense. They ended up getting up real big, and we had to fight to get back in the game. We used all our energy just trying to get back in it so we didn't have enough to finish.

"It would mean a lot (to beat KU.) It would prove a lot for us as a team. From the start of the season to now, people still say that without Mike (Beasley), we still can't do this and that, but if we win Saturday, it'll prove how hard we've worked since we lost to Wisconsin (in the NCAA tournament last March) and since we knew we weren't going to have Mike and Bill (Walker) this year."

FEEDING COLE

The Jayhawks need to get the ball more to star sophomore center Cole Aldrich, who had just eight field goal attempts against Missouri, including three in 19 second-half minutes. He finished with eight points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks.

"I think a lot of it is confidence," Self said about his team's inability to deliver Aldrich the ball. "Guys play not to turn the ball over as opposed to making winning basketball-type plays, aggressive plays. When you play not to turn it over, you never pass as good. I think that is probably most of it. I think our big guys can certainly do a better job of making themselves available, but Cole for the most part does a pretty good job of that. He's a big target and he's hard to front because of that. He can get touches."

Aldrich is optimistic about getting more touches versus the Wildcats. After watching tape of the Mizzou game, he offered this assessment of  the lack of entry passes into the post.

"I would just say having confidence to throw it in at times because there's times that the defenders are all over the guards," Aldrich said. "If I was a guard, I'd be a little hesitant to throw it in, too. But they're definitely getting their confidence back and (saying), ‘Hey, we got to throw it in to the post, whether it be me posting up or Markieff (Morris) or Mario (Little) posting up."

Aldrich has had problems seeing with his protective mask the last four games. Aldrich, who's worn the mask since breaking his nose at Nebraska on Jan. 28, will sport a new, tighter mask against the Wildcats.
 
"One of the problems that we've had with Cole as of late ... is his mask," Self said. "I think it has affected his play offensively, especially being able to see two defenders coming at him and being able to pick people out on the weak side quickly and that kind of stuff. He kind of has to refocus, because there are blind spots. He can get out of that one and wear (the new mask) that gives him a little bit better vision."

THE STREAK IN MANHATTAN

Aldrich was obviously bummed to see KU's 24-game winning streak end in Manhattan last season when KSU beat the Jayhawks, 84-75. However, the big man admits the team doesn't think about streaks.

"To us, the streak really didn't mean that much," Aldrich said. "We take every game as it is, whether we have a 100-game winning streak or lost 20 straight times to a team. We just go out and play every game as it is and don't really think about it."

RESPECT THE CATS

Self offered this statement regarding the rivalries with Mizzou and K-State.

"I've always thought the Missouri game was more hatred and that the Kansas State game was more of a respective rivalry," Self said. "That's how I've always viewed it since I've been here."

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