Sunday, March 20, 2011

KSU’s Pullen didn’t deserve this ending


— Jacob Pullen untucked his jersey, knelt down and sobbed. And Kansas State basketball fans everywhere sobbed with him.

The senior guard became Kansas State’s career scoring leader Saturday night, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that the Wildcats lost, 70-65, to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament’s third round and are finished.

I didn’t think anything could kill Pullen. He was so good Saturday. Not good, great. And that word doesn’t even do him justice.

It was Pullen this, Pullen that, Pullen, Pullen, Pullen.

But he kicked away the ball on one late possession that looked like a foul until the replay cameras showed it wasn’t. Then, fouled while attempting a three-pointer, he went to the line with three shots to tie. But he missed the middle free throw. And finally, his three-point shot to tie the score was blocked by his Wisconsin counterpart, Jordan Taylor, with two seconds left. It was the only time all night that Taylor got the better of Pullen.

It was Jake’s game until it wasn’t. And I doubt he’ll recover from the shock of losing this one for a long time.

Pullen made 13 of 22 shots. He was 6-of-8 from the three-point line. He was magnificent and would have played 40 minutes if not for some foul trouble. He got his second foul with 7:24 to play in the first half and picked up No. 3 with 15:05 remaining in the game.

It was a tough spot for Kansas State coach Frank Martin. How much do you keep your best player, one of the best players in the country, on the bench because of foul trouble? Or do you let Pullen, who has a world of experience, go on?

In hindsight, it’s easy to say Pullen should have stayed out there. As it was, Pullen’s foul problems caused Martin to change the player’s defensive assignment, moving Pullen off Taylor for much of the game.

It wasn’t a big issue because Taylor had a terrible shooting night, making two of 16 shots. But one of those was a huge three-pointer with four minutes left that gave Wisconsin a 59-57 lead. And his two free throws with 10.1 seconds put the Badgers up by three.

Taylor, despite an off night, was picked up by his teammates. In the first half, Pullen and senior forward Curtis Kelly had all nine of Kansas State’s baskets. There was a little more contribution from others in the second half, but Pullen and Kelly still combined for 49 points and were the only two Wildcats in double figures.

I’m still shocked the Wildcats — make that Pullen — came up short. Pullen is one of those rare players who, when a game is on the line late, can beat five opponents. BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and Connecticut’s Kemba Walker are the others.

Pullen scored K-State’s final eight points and 11 of their last 15.

It was the kind of effort that should have been rewarded with a victory. Pullen should have been carried off the court on the shoulders of his teammates, not draping a towel over his head to hide his devastation.

Pullen finished a great career the wrong way. Wisconsin did what I thought couldn’t be done. The Badgers finished off Pullen and left him crying. At least he wasn’t crying alone.


kcglowboy 11 years, 6 months ago

Completely agree. Would have loved to have seen a better finish for Pullen (and the Cats).

mojayhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad to see our writers write good things about KSU when we're not playing them. Once a Kansan, always a Kansan.

Jake is a great player and I thought they just might make a deep run, but the fact is, overall, they have not been a balanced team w/ great consistency. Still, a fun team to watch, and Coach Martin did an excellent job w/ difficult circumstances this year. Congrats Jake on a great career, all team leading scorer.

P.S. I noticed no nice articles about mizzou. Must have been an oversight. lol

klineisanazi 11 years, 6 months ago

This was written by Bob Lutz of the Wichita Beagle, a huge KSU sunshine pumper. Nobody "deserves" anything. And Lutz's man-crush on Pullen is a little over the top. That being said, Jacob Pullen was outstanding. In the end, he had too much of a burden to carry. Ironically, a lot of it comes back around to Frank Martin, who although he did a great job in redesigning the offense to make Pullen the focus, ultimately failed in getting the talent around him for a deep run. Pullen, however, was a man last night.

KansasComet 11 years, 6 months ago

It was great to see a talented player like Jacob Pullen compete for 4 years. Not many Kansas State players can say that they have two wins over Kansas. I hope he was able to earn his degree. I am sure that he will have a future in basketball, whether playing or coaching, and I wish him the best.

Funhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

From "Pullen is a social science major with an emphasis on criminology. He is on pace to graduate in May and would like to continue on in school with his ultimate goal of becoming a crime scene investigator. Pullen is involved with several community-service projects, including Read to Achieve, SAAC Special Olympics Sports Clinic, 9/11 visit to Fort Riley, spring picnic at Manhattan Retirement Center, Junior Wildcat Fantasy Day and Walk for Unity, which benefits the Manhattan Special Olympics. He also visits local elementary schools to talk to students about the importance of education, delivers dictionaries to local elementary schools and has served as a camp counselor for Frank Martin Basketball Camps and Kansas Reads." Also, I think Jacob's mom is a school teacher, but can't remember where I heard that.

Andy Tweedy 11 years, 6 months ago

I watched the game and really pulled for KSU. But the problem seemed to me that the other four guys on the court were simply there to get the ball if Pullen picked up his dribble and give it right back to Pullen. You can't survive when only one guy wants the rock. But I completely agree, Pullen deserved better last night.

whats_going_on 11 years, 6 months ago

No way. I refuse to feel sorry for Little Miss 'I wont play if we go to the NIT'

SO glad to see him go!!!

I guess Im just heartless though ;)

Bradly Moore 11 years, 6 months ago

I can't believe that KU fans support that other school in any way. I live in western Kansas and I have to live around their hick fans. I just want everyone to know how much they HATE KU. They would never root for us. I can't stand Pullen or any other kitty cat. Last night seeing him cry was wonderful. So glad he is gone.

Cole Hogan 11 years, 6 months ago

in a way i could understand your train of thought, but i think i understand how people root for KSU even if they are KU fans, i think its this kind of little brother, big brother thing(KU being the big bro) I just think that big bros always root for their big bros to succeed, but when they play hed to head, and the big bro always wins, the little bro always loves to see the big bro fall. So even though we like to see them succeed, they can never, nor should, root for us...but thats just my take, thats why its called an opinion.

Either way, you have to admit, Pullen is a beast at the collegiate level.

jaymar74 11 years, 6 months ago

It is true, KSU alumn and fans never pull for us- NEVER

Matt Kenton 11 years, 6 months ago

Very true, they hate us, but doesn't mean we can't be better than that. When we are so dominant over them, it is easy to feel sorry for them and want to pull for them and other Big 12 teams, especially because they are no threat to us.

I was pulling for them and Pullen to at least win this one, but I wanted to punch Frank Martin in the throat when he was getting in Will Spradling's face with a few seconds left and the game practically over. I've got to think his coaching style leads to a lack of confidence in players during crucial situations. Oh well.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

so glad i don't live and have to go to work in kansas on monday. everybody get ready to say "no he wasn't fouled" to every stater that is crying about the end of the game.

Kevin Crook 11 years, 6 months ago

Lots of respect for Pullen's game. I could care less about KSU and their fate though. The KSU people finally have a dog in the fight regularly, now they can feel what it is like when their team suffers a devastating loss in this tournament. Only one team is happy at the end of the season. KSU couldn't reasonably have expected that they could be that team this year anyway.

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 6 months ago

This was KSU's last hurray. Next year will be brutal with Kelly and Pullen gone. Frank is using up his time and needs to recruit like never before.

Pullen is a good guy and it was fantastic watching him play last night. So sad Kelly was the only other guy to show up.

Cole Hogan 11 years, 6 months ago

agreed man, KSU is going to be AWFUL next year, however, i think that freshman Spradling for KSU has the potential to be pretty good when he is a junior/senior, a tyrel reed type of player, someone who comes into his own his last year and a half of play.

Jeff Coffman 11 years, 6 months ago

I never root for the purple-headed step-child....let's be truthful, every Jayhawk loved to see the defeat of the little kitties.

Saguaro_Jayhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

I went to both their games in Tucson. I have to admit that I did not love to see them lose last evening.

Cole Hogan 11 years, 6 months ago

i must agree with saguaro, i did not appreciate seeing them lose.

chaggs 11 years, 6 months ago

KSU won their championship when they beat us in Manhattan.

They are going to be a shell of a team in the forseeable future.

I always like to see Big 12 schools do well in the tournament (it legitimizes KU's greatness)

That being said, I didn't mind K-state losing.

I loved seeing Pitt (any Big East school) lose more!

Classy Pullen memory: a moment of encouragement for T-Rob at the end of the game.


knightmare34 11 years, 6 months ago

This is not the first person to say "Pullen deserves better," but I just don't get it. Did he deserve a better performance en route to becoming K-States all-time leading scorer? Did he deserve to go out with a win (meaning only a national championship would be an appropriate ending)? Maybe people should focus on the real problem in Manhattan. Pullen deserved a better coach and better teammates. K-State was fortunate to make the NCAA tournament this year. I'd be absolutely amazed if they got this far next year.

Chris Bruning 11 years, 6 months ago

Congrats on a great career jake pullen, you were an awesome player. But i think your team came out a little cocky and not ready this year with all the preseason hype. Pullen was great, and has great sportsmanship but wisconsin was on my bracket so im glad they won.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 6 months ago

Curtis Kelly is the one that got me. He usually cries after a foul is called on him but the tears on the court when time was running down were sincere. Even the announcers mentioned it.

My understanding is this kid doesn't have much going for him outside of basketball. No family members at his senior night. Is that true?

Side note. This would be a great opportunity for Frank to jump ship. I have a feeling these past two years were the best they will be for a long while.

Funhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

Curtis Kelly already has his degree, so that's good.

Bradly Moore 11 years, 6 months ago

If you guys want to root for those a^*holes, dust off your carharts and wranglers, and stop pulling for the Jayhawks. They acted like they just lost the championship. I hope they never win another game. EVER.

bbhawk234 11 years, 6 months ago

You people are feeling sorry for a fanbase that is equal to Missouri in the way they feel about KU. Are you kidding me. What has the world come to. How we quickly we forget about the batteries being tossed out of the stands at our players, the poor chickens they made love to and them tossed on the court with their throats cut, the vandelism of the fieldhouse. Or how about in 2007 when we were undefeated in football going into the Missouri game, Missouri had just beat Kstate in Manhattan and the entire Kstate crowd was chanting "beat KU", for the MU players. Dont tell be about we are all Kansans because trust me KSU fans will put a knife in your back any day of the week. You all should be ashamed.

jayhawkintexas 11 years, 6 months ago

Jake Pullen deserved better just like Sherron Collins deserved better last year (except Jake had a much better game than Sherron had). Life is cruel and unfair and you just have to pick up and go on.

fansincewilt 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm a Jayhawk fan that always roots for other Big 12 schools when the Jayhawks are not playing. With that being said, I think I am ready to stop picking Big 12 schools to win. They always ruin my brackets. The Big 12 proved to not be very strong with only two schools left in the tournament. I surely hope Kansas and Texas can pull off a couple of wins to prove our conference deserves a little more credit than it gets by the likes of Vitale and others.I would definitely pull for a Big 12 over the SEC, Big East, Big Ten and definitely the ACC. The next conference I pull for is the PAC 10. I very much dislike the teams from the East. They are the only ones that will usually get any credit from the broadcasters. I was rooting for Pullen and the Wildcats last night and I hope they along with five or six other teams from the Big 12 make the tournament next year and I probably will pick them again as I did this year.

Steve Gantz 11 years, 6 months ago

There's a senior on Wisconsin who I could argue deserved a big win just as much as Pullen. Jon Leuer has been a really good player, will probably make a living in the NBA, but has bowed out of the NCAA's early several times too. So it's not about well he deserved it. I liked watching both Pullen and Leuer.

This is one angle that hasn't been mentioned about Taylor and Pullen. Taylor goaded Pullen into foul trouble and that had a huge impact on the game. There's always more to the results of a game than just the fact a guy went 2-16 or whatever he did.

milehighhawk 11 years, 6 months ago

I was there in Oklahoma City last year for the UNI game. K-State played the next game, and their fans were in the building. When KU lost, they started the Rock Chalk chant. They are cold and heartless. Glad to see others choosing the high road.

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