Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Rival revival

Wildcats clicking in Huggins' first year


One of Kansas State's most passionate sports fans chit-chatted with first-year Wildcat basketball coach Bob Huggins about the history of the Sunflower Showdown on Monday night at the Manhattan Town Center Mall.

"I was talking to Robert, and Robert says, 'This is like no rivalry you've ever seen,'" Huggins said of the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry as described to him by Robert Lipson, who has attended every KSU football game since 1973 and numerous road and home basketball games as well.

"I said, 'Robert, you're totally off base. This is no rivalry. You've got to win once in a while. Once we win once in a while, you'll see a rivalry, and that will be fun.'''

The Wildcats, who did win in Lawrence last January to snap a 31-game skid versus the Jayhawks, return to Allen Fieldhouse tonight for the first KU-KSU clash of the Huggins Era. Tip-off for the Big 12 battle between No. 9 KU (19-4, 6-2) and unrated but red-hot KSU (17-6, 6-2) is 8 p.m., with a live telecast on channels 8 and 15 and replay at 10:30 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband channel 6.

"I think most of our fans would like to win one once in a while. I'd like to win one once in a while," Huggins said.

The Wildcats, who dropped a 66-52 decision to KU in Manhattan last season after a 59-55 win at KU, enter as winners of seven straight games. Considering the two teams are tied for second in the league race, KU's tradition-rich building should be rocking tonight just as it did when Jack Hartman and Lon Kruger coached the Wildcats.

"I don't get caught up in that stuff, honestly I don't," former Cincinnati coach Huggins said of fan noise levels in buildings.

"I coached in (Louisville's) Freedom Hall a whole bunch, and when Denny (Crum) was there and Rick (Pitino) got there and when we were both really good and ranked in the top ten in the country. I don't care where you go, there's not a better atmosphere. They sell bourbon there. That was pretty wild, but you go in and play.

"The Shoemaker Center (at Cincy) got pretty wild, but they (Louisville) came in there and won. It's great to have great fans, but the teams that get intimidated aren't really good in all honesty. If they walk out saying the fans beat us, they stink. Fans don't beat you. Guys on the floor beat you."


Charlie Riedel/AP File Photo

Kansas State coach Bob Huggins yells instructions to his players during their Jan. 27 victory against Nebraska in Manhattan. The Wildcats have won seven straight heading into tonight's game in Allen Fieldhouse.

The soft-spoken coach figures to treat it as business as usual tonight.

"I think a lot of it is the confidence factor. Most teams do play a little bit better at home, but if you go in and just do what you're supposed to do you're fine," Huggins said. "Al McGuire (Marquette legend) said he knew they got good when they walked into any venue with no fear. I think there is tremendous truth to that."

He hopes his Wildcats, who have won five true road games this season, including at Texas, Missouri and Iowa State, do not back down against the Jayhawks tonight.

"They are a great team. That was two great teams playing the other night," Huggins said of KU and Texas A&M.; The Aggies stopped the Jayhawks, 69-66, on Saturday in Allen. "Those are far and away the two best teams, the two most talented teams in our league."

KU coach Bill Self is as complimentary of the Wildcats, who are led by Cartier Martin (15.5 ppg), David Hoskins (14.7 ppg) and Lance Harris (11.3 ppg) as well as coach Huggins.

"I think they are doing a great job of combining toughness with poise," Self said. "If you watch David Hoskins, the game is in slow motion to him, and he is still a very tough player.

"Bob's hire has been great also for Cartier Martin (who is now sixth man) because he's become more than what he was before, and he was already pretty good. He has a presence about him now. I think toughness can be defined a lot of ways, but I think Kansas State has a presence, just like Texas A&M; did the other night. I think they have done a great job of instilling that."

KU hoping to cool off Wildcats

When KSU returns to Allen Fieldhouse tomorrow night for the first time since a stunning 59-55 victory over KU, they'll do so as the hottest team in the Big 12.

Self is 1-0 all-time against Huggins. His Tulsa team beat Cincinnati, 69-61, in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

"I thought it was a great hire because it brought instant interest to our league and primarily to Kansas State," Self said of the Wildcats tapping Huggins to replace Jim Wooldridge after last season. "I really felt that Kansas State had good players and they still have good players, but it produced a different feeling about the program.

"I was at Oklahoma State when coach (Eddie) Sutton got the job and when he arrived, it was just a different feeling because he had such a great track record. I think the same thing is happening over in Manhattan."

Self senses great interest in tonight's contest and ones to come versus the 'Cats.

"I think it will quickly become a very talked-about rivalry," Self said.

Oops ... there's that "rivalry" word again.

"Great games make rivalries. For as much as you want to sit here and say it, when we were in the bottom half of the Big 12 and were playing them, they weren't all excited. I don't care what they say. You're just not," Huggins said. "You've got to win once in a while to have a great rivalry. Don't kid yourself."


Chicago_JHawk 15 years, 3 months ago

This is like no rivalry you've ever seen"

That might be true from the KSU perspective, but most KU fans agree that MU is the much bigger rival. It probably does have a lot to do with the recent competitiveness of the series.

Robert Brock 15 years, 3 months ago

We need a wee bit of a stronger finish than the one against A&M. Do it!


afterONE 15 years, 3 months ago

I didn't know Bob Huggins was soft spoken...

ann42 15 years, 3 months ago

KU must win this one. The boys must play good KU basketball tonight. Forget the pass, come out on fire! Go Jayhawks. Lets be LOUD fans!!!!!!

tult962 15 years, 3 months ago

I think Bill Needs to experiment with his big men out there. Its safe to say that Rush, Mario, Robinson and Collins have done a great job, and any mix of those guys is great. I think early in the season Kaun and Wright played well together but teams have seen it and adjusted to it. It now time for Self to experiment with Arthur and Wright or Wright and Jackson.

Jaminrawk 15 years, 3 months ago

I hope this does become more of a rivalry. The wildcats have been pathetic for years and Huggins should do enough to get the ugly purple ship righted before he leaves. Maybe K-State fans might even show up for their home games!

Matt Kenton 15 years, 3 months ago

The rivalry can start next year when they have Michael Beasley and Bill Walker is back.

This year we need to sweep them!

84Hawk 15 years, 3 months ago

Since when is Bob Huggins soft spoken? And I totally agree that KU vs MU is a MUCH bigger rivalry. I guess K-state doesn't have anyone else to be rivals with.

I hope that K-state comes in a little cocky and that we kick some Wildcat butt!! I don't want to win by 2 or 3, but really win big. Rock Chalk!!

BigTamale 15 years, 3 months ago

The Jayhawks need to come out agiainst like the Wildcats just "Slapped their momma's"!!!! Seriously.

And once they establish a sizeable lead, they can't be complacent...they need to just keep giving it to them.

Lastly, THEY NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB GUARDING THE PERIMETER!!!! Don't let Lance Harris or Cartier Martin have their way (have 13 three pointers).

If we do this, then we should easily win.

LAHAWK 15 years, 3 months ago

MR Huggins will have his team ready tonight, don't think he won't. He uses the toughness of his players to get under the skin of his opponents. Trust me he coaches the "thug" mentality. Our big guys have to dominate tonight in order to win. We can not be shooting dinky lay ups when we are two feet from the goal. We need to tear the rim down tonight, especially Kahn and Authur. Take the ball to the hole with authority for the Wildcats will be vulnerable around the hole. Show no mercy tonight HAWKS for you will receive non from Huggins. Granted, this is not our biggest rivalry (that belongs to MU) but Huggins will use it to motivate his team tonight because we think this not a rivalry game. Huggins is a master motivator and his thugs will do whatever he says. We need to exploit this by taking care of the ball on every possesion tonight and rebound on both ends of the floor,and for gods sake, make some freethrows.

Rock Chalk

jhawker137 15 years, 3 months ago

K-State fans don't talk as much sht as MU fans, and I am in complete agreement that MU vs. KU is a bigger rivalry. I hate MU, the State of Missouri, and the majority of people that come from Missouri. I could careless about K-State, there is a big difference here. Huggins and his well payed for thugs(come on we all know they were paid to play at K-state) will get a chance to have Kansas let them feel what it could be like to have a rivalry as we tear them a new asshle and let them hold it at the same time. GO HAWKS!!!!!

JayCeph 15 years, 3 months ago

KU should look at every game they have left as a rivalry... no matter the opponent. The Hawks are second in the league right now and March is right around the corner. Time to turn it ON!

Their biggest foe is themselves. KU lost to DePaul because the Hawks beat themselves. The same thing goes for aTm. The other two losses have come at the heals of letting the other team set the tempo instead of just demanding a pace that favors your team. They need to be more aggressive and play intuitively (1st half agains Florida and the entire OkSt game are indicative of this mindset).

If they could start playing with a little passion (and a little less academically) then we'll see the team we've been waiting for.

I don't want to wake up tomorrow with 'cat-scratch fever.'

JayCeph 15 years, 3 months ago

I think you mean you "couldn't" care less... otherwise, your statement suggests that this DOES mean something to you.

Oh well, I get your point. Let's crush 'em!!

Studogg 15 years, 3 months ago

Keys to winning tonight:

  1. Defend the perimeter. Too many threes late cost Texas the game the other day. Big Tamale was right on.

  2. Can't let Hoskins have his way inside. Keep rotating Arthur, Kaun, and Jackson in and out. Find a way to get the ball inside and don't worry about fouling out because beyond Hoskins, they have no depth. Not a big believer in Bennett yet.

  3. Julian and Rush must provide the offense to go along with Collins' hot hand of late. They are our biggest offensive weapons now that Chalmers is in a slump.


Do that and we're gravy, baby.

quigley 15 years, 3 months ago

Seems like Huggins thinks that Allen Field House wont be as loud or rowdy as other places that he has seen. I wish I was going to the game tonight, but if anyone reading this is, get SUPER LOUD tonight!! I was at the game on Sat. and the crowd was great, keep it up students and others and prove Huggins wrong!!!!

querulousperson 15 years, 3 months ago

you guys are right--KU and MU deserve each other. KSU is not a part of that hatred. you can have your rivalry; we just want to win. but everyone is so convinced that hugginsÂ' boys in manhattan will be every bit as thuggish as they were in cincinnati. the Â'cats donÂ't have a CJ Giles yet! these are still wooldridge recruits, the same ones who won last year in lawrence. the game in manhattan is more important, though, because it represents the hugginization of kstate. go cats!

KURUSH1530 15 years, 3 months ago

JHawker, I don't see too many products of Huggins on the 'Cats team quite yet, it is only his first year. So to call all these guys paid thugs, when KU has played against most of the KSU roster in the past two years, is a ridiculous statement. And I think I've figured out the key to winning in college, you must dominate guard play. This is not Self's philosophy, considering he wants to play his hi-low, feed it to the post whenever. NBA is the league that wins when the paint is dominated, not the NCAA. We need to let loose are most valuable weapons Bill, the perimeter guys. Quit handcuffing them when we need plays to be made.

argentinehawk 15 years, 3 months ago

I think you're right, BigTamale. KU IS going to come out fired up. Just a gut feeling (and I hope I'm right). If I'm not mistaken, ksuck was the worst team (fg%) from behind the 3. And then they sink 12 against the TU. There is no way in heck that happens again this year, especially tonight! I will agree with tult962, I would like to see Self go with D. Arthur at the 5 and JuJu at the 4 at times and just run them out of the gym. I just think this game is going to be real real pretty, or real sad. I hope it's the first. GO KU!!

mlbowers 15 years, 3 months ago

jhawker137, you have got to be real careful when you make an over might come out sounding the wrong way! the same pay our players recieve, which is the same in all of college ball, is a scholarship to the school. the real pay for the k-state squad is getting to play the big teams like kansas, texas, and texas a&m. that help get their names out there if they make big plays.

blocking the court vision from their point guard, strong perimeter defense, and taking it strong to the hole to draw the foul. hi - low basketball will beat k-state every time. rush, chalmers, collins, and wright must also contribute when the low game is not there.

we don't want cat-scratch fever, we want the cats to be dust in the wind!!!

rock chalk jayhawk...go ku!

distracted 15 years, 3 months ago

Odd that Huggybear equates having a "great atmosphere" to venues that sell bourbon...

dbgjayhawk 15 years, 3 months ago

haha, good point distracted. i'll bet huggy is an alcoholic.

frompekka2sasha 15 years, 3 months ago

Not only does KSU get upset with KU for not being their rival... they also dislike Nebraska because they don't consider KSU a rival in football either. KSU fans should understand that a "rival" doesn't change depending on what sport you play or how good you are at the time... but it does answer the question about who their true rival is-- nobody. Give Baylor a call because they might be interested in forming a rivalry.

KSU is not a great football program like a Nebraska, OU or Texas so it's stupid to compare them to any of those teams. They are not a great basketball program so it's absolutely ridiculous to compare them to KU. Oddly enough both MU and KSU both have inferiority issues and believe that their program is better than it actually is! Maybe that is why both programs annoy me?

hawkitup 15 years, 3 months ago

What's up with Huggins comment when he said, "I don't care where you go, there's not a better atmosphere." This was in reference to playing against Louisville, right? Was anybody else insulted by this? I really hope we have an awesome turnout tonight and make SOME NOISE!! Let's make Bobby regret that comment!

Go Hawks!

Joe Ross 15 years, 3 months ago

I just had an epiphany.

This time next month, NCAA tournament play will be upon us. KU will face six games and numerous doubters across the country who favor Florida, UNC, and others to win it all. If I think about it too long, I almost lose hope myself. You can almost see KU losing to a team in the third or fourth round. To other schools, this may be an accomplishment--but at KU we expect a run at a championship every single year. The last nineteen have ended in failure, and its oh-so-easy to be able to imagine it happening again while recalling the likes of Depaul and ORU. The thought brings me tantalizingly close to despair.

Then there's another voice that takes over. It looks at the pieces of this team. The talent. The coaching. The fans. The tradition. Yes, we want a championship. If you think about it long enough you begin to realize that this team, for all its disappointments, has the talent to BE THERE!

I remember the heartbreak with each loss in the '88 season. The doubts that crept in. Yet the glimmer of hope in Danny Manning and the team spurred you to hope further. And boy when we won it all, it was a mix of emotions: it was impossible and real all at the same time. Vindication! Relief! Reckless and unbridled enthusiam! I woke up the next fortnight of mornings with KU on my mind, and still unreasonably ecstatic!

Imagine...just TRY to imagine...

Julian and Brandon with NCAA Champion ballcaps on, turned sideways. Darnell Jackson in a white championship t-shirt. Confetti raining down on Chalmers, Russell Robinson, and Sherron Collins as they all point their index fingers indicating that they are, in fact, number one. Sasha Kaun with his hands on his temples in disbelief! Bright lights on Darrell Arthur as he has both arms raised with clenched fists, in defiance of the pundits who questioned his ability. Bill Self's half-cocked smile as the CBS announcers drape their arm around his back during the post-game celebration interview.

People it can happen...

With THIS team...

cellogrl 15 years, 3 months ago

BigTamale I just have to say, that "Slapped their mama" comment made me laugh my butt off! Well done!

Hawkitup, I just have to say, I agree with you, but we have to cut Huggins a little slack. He's never coached in Allen Fieldhouse. I bet he changes his opinion after tonight, even though we don't serve bourbon like Louisville does. :)

Studogg 15 years, 3 months ago

jross, you just gave me like major goosbumps thinking about that. But somebody, seriously, knock on wood. Please don't let this be another jinx, like the articles talking about the South's futility at AFH. The articles really had nothing to do with the loss, but still, don't you think it's a bit strange that so many things went right in such a short amount of time for aTm Sat night? Let's worry about tonight before visions of sugarplums dance in our heads.

JayCeph 15 years, 3 months ago

Oh, I have my fingers crossed you're right : )

actorman 15 years, 3 months ago

It's nice to dream, jross. And I've had that belief most of the year that they still have it in them. But the consistent lack of killer instinct and the questionable decisions by Self at the ends of close games, combined with the poor free throw shooting by most of the team, makes me wonder if they can even make the Final Four, much less win the championship. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see them getting past the Elite Eight this year.

JayCeph 15 years, 3 months ago

At the very least, I'd just like to get past the first round... convincingly!

Jaminrawk 15 years, 3 months ago

KSU is the new MIZZOU (Snyder era). They'll start strong then fizzle out as they go on probation, thanks to thuggish recruits. Does Ricky Clemons still have eligibility?I heard that Manhattan has some good spots to ride ATVs.

frompekka2sasha 15 years, 3 months ago

JayCeph- Now THAT may get some momentum behind the program. If they lose in the 1st round again, the players will feel even more pressure with a #1 ranking in '07-08.

JayCeph 15 years, 3 months ago

Here here, fp2s. I hope that is one streak Self can break without too much trouble.

The pressure isn't 'On' but it is mounting.

I hope our KU-Carrion can dine on KittyKrunch tonight!

CasperCorps 15 years, 3 months ago

This team does have the talent to win it all but not the leadership, yet. Give these guys a break until next year and watch Sherron become the leader we've all been waiting for.. P.S. Is Chalmers still on the team or what? Rockem Hawks!!!!

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 15 years, 3 months ago

i bet $100 on this game they better win. go hawks

greg robinson 15 years, 3 months ago

"there"s no such thing as a jinx" I'm not so sure. How many of us won't be wearing the same t-shirt, sweatshirt, jersey, or hat we had on last Sat? jross-great post. You had me reliving those great emotions from 88! I hope all the parts come together tonight. I have to listen to the KSU feed over the internet. No TV coverage here in NM. I hope their announcers are very unhappy.

jaybate 15 years, 3 months ago


If KSU is the new Mizzou, will the new t-shirts read as follows?

Kuck Faystate!

jaybate 15 years, 3 months ago

Actually Huggo-Muggo and his Merry Band of Butcher Ballers may be coming along at just the right time.

Last year, KU got into a game of smashmouth with Kelvin "Many Calls" Sampson and his two reinforced concrete abuttments for bigs , and it made a team of men out of KU. Where last years band of manly men have gone, I do not know. I did not think that Christian Moody and Jeff Hawkins were the brawlin' spirit of that team, but perhaps they were. Whatever, getting out on the floor with some guys who'd just as soon bulldoze you into the cheaps seats as look at you may be just the character builder this bunch needs. Self talks about boot camp. He talks about big men not playing soft. He tries to toughen these guys up with stare downs and verbal upbraiding, but in the end, every bunch of new Marines has to get into combat to forge the steel into veteran lethality. But even if its not a good time, the appointment with brass knuckles is coming tonight. It will be a good sign if KU starts shoving first, if the bigs get very territorial about the blocks. and if Mario strips the daylights out of them.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk/beat Lancing U

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