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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Keegan

KU proves it’s worthy of No. 1 NCAA seed

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Kansas takes Big 12 tournament title

The Kansas University men's basketball team will enter the NCAA tournament on a high note after defeating Kansas State to take the Big 12 tournament title.

Audio clips

Big 12 championship: KU-KSU

Reader poll

Assuming Duke is the fourth No. 1 seed, which team do you not want to see as a No. 2 seed in KU's bracket?

  • West Virginia 25% 771 votes
  • Ohio State 16% 497 votes
  • Purdue 13% 420 votes
  • New Mexico 5% 175 votes
  • Kansas State 29% 899 votes
  • Villanova 7% 223 votes
  • Other 2% 82 votes

3067 total votes.

— Denis Clemente, Kansas State’s senior guard, showed Saturday why he’s considered the fastest player in college basketball. He and teammates also showed a remarkable will to win.

Still, it wasn’t enough for K-State, bound for a No. 2 seed when today’s NCAA Tournament pairings are announced, to avoid losing for the third time this season to Kansas University in the Big 12 tournament title game in Sprint Center.

Wildcats coach Frank Martin, stinging from the 72-64 loss, but classy enough to send serious respect the way of the victors, captured what makes Kansas worthy of its No. 1 ranking and overall seed it will be granted during Selection Sunday.

“I’m of the opinion that to be a good team, I don’t care what sport you play, you better be good down the middle,” Martin said. “Baseball, they talk about your catcher, your pitcher, second baseman, shortstop, center fielder. In football, your quarterback, your center, nose guard and safety. You can fill in everything else. Kansas has a point guard who refuses to lose, on top of being a very good player. They’ve got a center that refuses to allow you to shoot layups and then puts tremendous pressure on the rim.”

Kansas coach Bill Self has expressed frustration at times with the team’s man-to-man defense not playing up to the standards he considers acceptable. On this day, nobody could make that claim.

“That’s what makes Bill Self as good as anyone in this country, because he takes big-time talented players and he gets them to play unselfishly and as hard as anyone in the country defensively,” Martin said. “That’s why the bear is so difficult to take down because the bear’s always sharp and ready to go. He never lets his guard down. When you fight a bear, now you need a weakness so you can attack it. And that bear is pretty good.”

Finding a weakness, much less attacking it, always has been a challenge for coaches facing balanced teams recruited and developed by Self.

Junior guard Jacob Pullen, K-State’s best player, also focused on the intangibles of the opponent that has given his team three of its seven losses.

“I think we’re tough,” Pullen said. “I think we’re a tough team, but KU is also a tough team. They do a great job of matching our physicality.”

Jamar Samuels, named Sixth Man of the Year by Big 12 coaches, also praised KU’s ability to battle.

“They’re just preparing us for the tournament,” Samuels said. “We have two of the most physical teams in the Big 12. I would say the country, too.”

KU’s defensive versatility came into play during the Big 12 tournament. The Jayhawks, a man-to-man team 90 percent of the time, played a 2-3 zone during the decisive second-half stretch of a semifinal victory against Texas A&M.; Kansas used a triangle-and-two designed at slowing Clemente and Pullen often Saturday.

Pullen made just five of 17 shots.

“They do a great job of making you shoot over the bigs,” Pullen said. “Their guards do a great job of giving you false hope, then when you get around them their bigs are there. It’s tough to shoot shots over Cole and the Morris twins. They do a great job of contesting everything.”

For the first game-and-a-half of the tournament, Kansas showed it’s not an intimidating foe when it’s not bringing defensive intensity. For the last game-and-a-half, it showed why it enters the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. That difference is fresh in the players’ minds, which can only be a good thing entering the NCAA Tourney. It never hurts to be reminded that you’ll never be as good as you think you are unless you realize you need to get a whole lot better.

Comments

ParisHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Postgame thoughts:

  • Lots of respect for K State: they play tough, they give it their all but aren't mean. You can tell the teams respect each other. Plus they make us play with intensity!
  • We're getting a few more alley-oops but are still not dunking, even Cole.
  • Marcus can play despite his finger injury. How I love his midrange game!
  • No new injuries :))

Postconference thoughts:

  • Gone the worries about cupcake competition: we are battle tested now.
  • 2010 now officially has more depth than the 2008 team: they played 7 1/2 guys (Cole being the half), we play 8+ (the plus hopefully being TRob, who is getting a few first-half minutes).
  • We've started to use more different lineups, offensive sets and defensive schemes.

Overall, we seem to be maturing just in time.

Carter Patterson 10 years, 2 months ago

Frank Martin has really changed my perception of KSU. He is a phenomenal coach, even better than Thuggins. With KU and KSU playing so good, I can only think of one thing to say. Poor Misery....

John Brown 10 years, 2 months ago

I am glad that KSU is doing so well in basketball. It gives the Big 12 north more legitimacy by raising the bar for the whole conference. I always enjoyed the rivalry when Jack Hartman coached at KSU. I hope that MU will keep getting better as well. These rivalries are important to the game of college basketball and the development of the Big 12.

1977kufan 10 years, 2 months ago

I know that KSU will not be in the same bracket as us. I hope that they win their bracket - it would really be sweet to meet them again for the National Championship. Rock Chalk, Jayhawks -- great job Jayhawks, coaching staff and everyone involved in the program. Another National Championship would be even sweeter!!!

Danny Hernandez 10 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations to KState....and to Coach Frank Martin who should be NCOY. Great team. He and his team play tough ball and that's good for Kansas. Class team in losing which isn't easy. Great to see both programs respecting eachother. How did Kstate, aTm, Baylor all of a sudden leap frog misery in a few short years? Amazing, amazing, amazing

ParisHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

And leapfrog Texas in a few short months!

ellsworthhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

my hat's off to Coach Martin and all the KSU players. Their guard combo is one of the best in the nation. They play with class and you can see the respect they carry for our mighty Jayhawks.

Rock Chalk.

ellsworthhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

It seems as though the Hawks are driving souped up hot rods in a race where everyone else is driving 4cyl cars. They seem to keep pace with their opponent during the "race" as if they're toying with the competition. Then, suddenly, wren they see the finish line, they just just give a little smile and a wave and mash on the accelerator. That aTm game was the classic. Poor Turgeon.... up 9 to down 17 in 6 min. 4 cylinder car.

yates33333 10 years, 2 months ago

Martin is no slouch as a coach. He is deservedly the Coach of the Year by taking KSU to the Big 12 title game and pushing KU until the end. I hope KSU does a great job in the NCAA playoffs, but loses to KU in the title game. Go Wildcats, Go Hawks!!!!

okiedave 10 years, 2 months ago

Martin is a good coach but with Clementie and Pullen gone, KSU is going to struggle. Players want to be respected and Martin will degrade and humiliate players in front of 18,000 people and on national TV. Not good for recruiting.

gchawk 10 years, 2 months ago

carterpatterson: My thoughts exactly. KSTATE has proven to be a great team, and I have really changed my perception of Coach Martin as well, he's obviously a very good coach. Congrats Jayhawks, what a great ride so far, keep it going. RCJHGKU

milehighhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

I always thought Martin was a bit of an a$$, personally - for no particular reason, other than he looks like a jagoff on the sidelines, screaming at his players.

I have to say that after hearing him in press conferences this year and seeing how he prepares his team, I've got nothing but respect for the guy.

Congratulations on a tremendous season to KSU and Coach Martin.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 2 months ago

ParisHawk: regarding no injuries, Sherron apparently banged his knee, but I believe (hope) it isn't serious and will be fine by Thursday. okiedave: I suspect you may be wrong about recruiting suffering from Martin's behavior on TV. Look at Bob Knight and the way he treated his players, even in practice. Right up to the time he was fired there were parents wanting to send their sons to play for him.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

Martin is a classic case of "you can't judge a book by its cover."

He looks and acts in a way that leads one to believe he will not be articulate and then turns out to be enormously articulate and insightful.

There is no substitute for basketball IQ in either playing or coaching.

So far, Dalonte has been able to find him guards and forwards, or centers and forwards, but not all three. Watch out, when Dalonte finds him all three. Or when KU hasn't got all three.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 2 months ago

"So far, Dalonte has been able to find him guards and forwards, or centers and forwards, but not all three. Watch out, when Dalonte finds him all three. Or when KU hasn't got all three."

i don't buy it. Martin is responsible for Judge, Clemente, and Colon being in Manhattan. and the big JUCO center coming in next year is from Miami.

that's Martin's stomping grounds...he knows every high school coach in the Miami area probably...and a lot of the whole state.

and 2nd of all, where has been the development of Judge? he plays well vs. KU..."the best team in the country"...and can't see the floor vs anyone else? who's responsible for that?

after next year,, when Pullen, Sutton and Kelly are gone, who's going to score for this team? will Wally Judge average 20 a game? or is he two and done? maybe Samuels can score 20 a game, when he's a Sr.

i don't know, i'm not seeing it. next year is basically it for this program...and then we'll truly find out if Martin con coach. because it will be year three post Walker-Beasley....and the well is getting drier and drier.

wupass 10 years, 2 months ago

Yates33333, yes, I also hope K-State does a great job in the NCAA play-offs, but loses to KU in the title game. Then I hope K-State takes it all next year. Proud to be a Kansan with 2 of the best college BB teams right here on the prairie! Rock Chalk, baby!

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

mvjayhawk,

If it helps you to assign all the recruited athletes to Martin, rather than Dalonte; that's fine with me. If you read Huggins bio, my guess is that a combination of Martin and Dalonte and Brad Underwood form the critical mass of recruiting that is putting the bodies in Manhattan. So: I think we both oversimplified a bit, but I'm always happy to concede points at the margins of arguments (i.e., if you want to say Martin brought them all then fine) to prevail on a main point. :-)

The main point is: Martin is a coach fairly new to head coaching that already knows how to build very tough teams in a very tough conference missing key pieces; this is the mark of a way above average coach IMHO.

The way you know Self is a great coach is not this season, or 2008, when he was in each case one of the coaches with all the pieces.

The way you know Self is a great coach is that he won the B12 and reached the 16 last season playing Brady at the 3 without a backup, and starting Marcus at the 4, when Marcus could barely jump, rebound or play the 4 until the last third of the season, and only then as a very accomplished garbage man 4.

Self's '09 season was the greatest pure coaching job, outside of Wooden's first two championships, that I have ever seen in college basketball. Great coaching jobs are rarely the national champions, or the years when the coaches have all the marbles. Wooden's accomplishment was simply astonishing in 1964 and 65 and much, much greater, because he actually did win two straight rings with what almost at times amounted to smoke and mirrors.

But, again, what Self did the '09 season was nothing short of miraculous in its own right, even though it got stopped short. To reiterate, most of the really great coaching jobs occur with the teams that are missing key pieces and yet progress deep to the 16, or the 8 in the Madness.

trueblue9 10 years, 2 months ago

Who is in charge of these reader polls? I would LOVE New Mexico as our #2 seed (or hint hint LJW...our #4 seed). But why not actually include teams in the poll that are going to be 2 seeds, you know, like GTown. But I digress, we're getting Ohio St. so its kinda a moot point.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

But you say: some teams without all the pieces just get hot in the Madness. True. And those are not the coaching masterpieces. Self's team last season did not just getting hot in the Madness. Frankly, the team was not on fire during the the Madness last season. It was just playing good ball with too few players playing too many minutes. But to get that far with that little that young was just an amazing accomplishment by Self. 2/3s of last seasons games were won with smoke and mirror's coaching.

With that as preamble, now, look at what Martin is working with this season at KSU. One fine trey shooter in Clemente who is also a serious threat off the dribble on the perimeter, and Pullen, who is a a slightly above average PG, and nothing on the bench behind either of them. Then Dominique Sutton, one of the classic over-hyped muscle man 3s, who comes on only starting his second or third season, but who still disappears from time to time. Then he's got Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels, who are good players, but who do not provide true match-up advantage, just even steven against Top 15 teams like KU. And he starts Luis Colon at center, a guy who can guard a post for 15 minutes at most and do almost nothing else, sort of a vastly more limited version of Sasha Kaun during Kaun's post knee injury seasons.

And somehow Frank Martin squeezes out a 26-7 record (so far) and pushes the Number 1 team in the country to labor to get three wins in three very tough meetings.

What Martin has accomplished is nothing short of amazing, on the heels of a charismatic Prince of Darkeness--Bob Thuggins--bailing after only one season at a program that has sucked for decades.

And for some reason you focus in one 5-star recruit, Wally Judge, not panning out his first season, as if this were unusual in college basketball and so a black mark against Frank Martin.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

I view it exactly the opposite way. It is even more remarkable what Martin has done, when he had to transcend a 5-star flame out that he desperately needed.

Let me refresh your memory about Coach Self, the gold standard of college basketball coaching, has quite a list of 5-star flame-outs their first years; i.e., players that turned out not to be anywhere near as productive as anyone hoped.

David Padgett. C.J. Giles Michah Downs.
Elijah Robinson Thomas Robinson

And even at the end of last season, 2/3s of the posters here were saying that Marcus and Markieff Morris were huge busts in their first seasons, even though the team made it to the Sweet 16!!!

And any time KU loses, or even has a close game, there are a bunch of iKnobs around here talking about how KU can never be a serious team, if Tyrel and Brady are playing crucial minutes. LOL!

Coaches with high basketball IQ can mask weaknesses, get the best out of their best players, out coach their equals (but rarely if ever their more experienced equals) and find ways to inspire tough enough defense that allows their teams to labor through the problems caused either by difficult match-ups, or missing pieces.

Frank Martin has done a fabulous job this season at KSU with far less than a full cupboard, according to the standard I just enunciated.

He's gotten out coached by Self a few times, because, surprise, surprise, Martin is new to head coaching and is learning in an incredibly tough league, against a guy, Self, who has been head coaching since 1993.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

Compare Frank Martin's accomplishments to what Jeff Bzdelik has done at Boulder Juco. Night and day. Now it may come to be discovered that Frank and Dalonte and Brad Underwood have cheated, but it may also come to be discovered that they have not. Bob Huggins, Prince of Darkness that he is, was never to my knowledge known so much for cheating in recruiting, as for coaching thug ball at UCinn before it was fashionable and for alcohol abuse and for DUI's and player arrests and the first graduation day of a new Chancellor, and not being contrite about it. To put not too fine a point on it, Huggo-Muggo was not to my knowledge, the first macho coach to underestimate the ruthlessness of pencil-necked chancellors in laying the trap for a head coaches force out, so as to enable said pencil-necked chancellor to feel more in control of athletic revenue streams. Does the names Bob Hemenway and Roy Williams ring a bell?

Apples often don't fall far from trees, though sometimes they can seem almost like hedge apples eaten by cattle and eliminated half way across a pasture.

Our beloved and respected Bill Self coaches a brand of Okie Ball quite like Eddie with a touch of Larry and probably a lot of Paul Hansen and Self's dad that we don't really appreciate. Eddie and Larry have had their share of rules violations and extra curricular problems. We are fortunate that Coach Self appears to have fallen rather farther from the tree than Eddie and Larry in certain regards. I don't know the cow, or steer, we have to thank for that, but let me do so now and add to whom it may concern.

The probability is that Martin isn't cheating sharply more than Bob Huggins. The probability is he is cheating about the same amount, or that he has a cow, or steer, in his past that carried him far across the pasture.

jaybate 10 years, 2 months ago

Frank's only black mark, and it is one that has probably dogged him most of his career, is that he was exonnerated, but fired for some recruiting improprieties that occurred perhaps a third of his life time ago starting out in high school coaching. Beyond that there is no ugly trail behind him other than association with Bob Huggins anti-hero antics.

I have been suspicious of Frank Martin from the beginning, precisely because of his association with Huggins. I don't like Bob Huggins. I don't like his brand of ball. I wish it had not prevailed. But it has. We now effectively play a less virulent strain of it now at KU. I wish KU didn't. I wish Frank Martin and Bob Huggins didn't. I wish the refs didn't "let'em play." But they do.

Frankly (pun intended), when you strip away the Huggo-muggo association and the slightly more virulent brand of muscle ball professed, Martin has done the kind of job at KSU that Self did on the heels of Lon Kruger at Illinois.

Frank Martin should be on the short list of any elite program that needs a head coach, even though I dislike his sideline demeanor and strain of muscle ball quite a lot.

If I were UK, I would hire Frank Martin immediately and not wait for Cal to screw them, when they least expect it.

If I were Texas, I would fire Barnes immediately and hire Frank Martin. But Texas won't, because Barnes has had quite a few good seasons, because of all the talent he's been able to recruit and squander.

Give Frank Martin the talent of Texas the four seasons previous to this year, and Martin would almost certainly have won more conference and conference tourney championships than Rick Barnes.

But if you're not buying, you're not buying. :-)

sizehawk 10 years, 2 months ago

I too have a tremendous respect for Frank Martin. With all of his posturing, his players still call him Frank; not coach, but Frank. I loved the video (seen somewhre) with the K-State players' imitations of Frank's raves. You can tell that they love him, and that is the greatest recruiting tool.

Steve Brown 10 years, 2 months ago

easy to leapfrog Texas when they are laying down.

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