Kansas State fits into a murderer's row of schedules that sees the Longhorns set to play the Big 12's toughest teams over a five-game, 12-day stretch. But don't expect Texas to cry about its plight. Assistant Chris Ogden was asked what the coaches said to the players about the difficult slate.
"That's why you came here," Ogden said. "You've got to play. We're not running from it. You've got to play, you've got to be ready to play. You've got to figure out the things that are making us lose, and change those. We've got to win some games."
Wildcats in Similar Spot
Much has been made of the fact that the Longhorns, a young team, are looking to find their identity.
"At this point, everybody knows we're going to play hard," said Sheldon McClellan of what the Longhorns do well. "We're never going to give up, no matter what type of situation we're in. We know we're going to come out and play hard on defense, it's just the offensive part right now that we're working on."
Ogden said the Wildcats, at 1-3 in the Big 12, are also looking for answers.
"They're searching as well," Ogden said. "This league's tough, No. 1, this league's really tough. Here in the next two weeks, I think it's going to be a really jumbled league. There are no easy ones home or the road. And I think they're figuring some things out with their team as well. The teams that get it figured out are the teams that are going to advance and get to the tournament."
Going to Manhattan
In recent years, Kansas State has earned a reputation as one of the Big 12's top homecourt advantages, thanks in part to Bramlage Coliseum, coined the "Octagon of Doom."
"No. 1 you're playing in a barn," Ogden said. "Barns are loud. They draw, they play well there. But their crowd is probably the loudest in the Big 12, I would say. You've got Kansas, they're loud. But K-State is a raucous place."
Clint Chapman said it would be difficult to shake the crowd.
"(At the) Octagon of Doom, it's kind of hard to do that," Chapman said. "We've got to execute. We've got to play into that pressure and just do what we can handle and not play outside of our abilities."
Frank Martin: Intimidating Presence?
Ogden was asked about Kansas State coach Frank Martin, whose chastising of sideline reporter Stan Weber went viral this past week. In the interview, conducted after the Wildcats' 75-73 loss to Baylor, Weber asked what the Wildcats needed to do better. Martin responded with a terse: "How about playing a little defense. You ever heard of that one, Stan?"
But Ogden, who said he knew Martin from the road, said he didn't see Martin as intimidating.
"But I know what you see on TV, and he's passionate and he coaches his guys," Martin said. "He's got some grounds and fundamental things that [if] they don't do [them], he's going to be mad at. If you ask him the wrong questions, he may be mad at that, too. But he's a great guy and a great coach and someone we have a lot of respect for and really like. We really like Frank."
Who Takes the Final Shot?
If J'Covan Brown is covered, that is. Ogden said that the team needed to stress shot selection, not just in taking open shots, but also in terms of understanding situations. Ogden said that there were situations where the Longhorns should look specifically to get the ball to Brown when the game was tight and Texas needed a big basket.
But who wants the ball when Brown is covered?
"I think all of us do," McClellan said. "Everybody on the team wants it in that situation. Everybody can score on this team. Everybody can go for 20, any night."
Brown said he trusted his teammates to make those plays.
"When those guys are missing shots, I tell them to just keep shooting, never stop shooting," Brown said. "Because a shooter's going to always shoot no matter how bad he's shooting. Games that I shoot the ball bad, and they shoot the ball well, they tell me the same thing.
They can't let that get them frustrated," Brown said. "There are other ways to impact the game other than just scoring."