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Pullen High on the Cats

By Mark Janssen

Jacob Pullen gives a soft chuckle as he answered, "Now, that wouldn't be fair." 
 
But with brown eyes flashing, and breaking into a smile, he adds, "I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I hadn't thought about it."

The question put to the Big 12's Preseason Player of the Year was this: What would this K-State team be like with Michael Beasley and Bill Walker as seniors?
 
"It just wouldn't have been fair in a lot of games," said Pullen, who will be the headliner today when K-State stages its Media Day. "Think about last year with me and Denis (Clemente), Curtis (Kelly), Mike and Bill! We would have been a power house. That would have been a team that was hard to beat."
 
This year, even without Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Walker (New York Knicks), the K-State team is going to be hard to beat.
 
While the K-State team of 2007-08 was Beasley's team, this one of 2010-11 is Pullen's team, and Kelly's team as the lone two seniors on the roster.
 
"We've waited our turn," said Pullen, who averaged 9.7 points per game while starting 14 of KSU's 33 games in his freshman year of 2007-08. "I don't think people respected my abilities when Mike and Bill were here, but hopefully I've proven that I can play, that I can lead, and I can go make plays. Curtis and I want this to be a great year ... a Final Four year."
 
At last sighting, Pullen had a hint of his "Fear The Beard" look from last year, but prior to the opening of practice he openly said, "It's time for something new. Maybe Rodney (McGruder) can wear the beard."
 
Also new this year could be Pullen directing the team more from the point with the departure of Clemente.
 
"Right now I would say I will be at the point, but Frank likes to play with two people who can handle the ball," said Pullen. "If I do play point, I will keep that scoring mentality and go out and get buckets when we need them. That's what I did last year. I picked my time to score in bunches, but also helped other people get involved."
 
Pullen listed the names of Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Juevol Myles, Nick Russell, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling all as candidates to man the two guard positions.
 
While the Big 12 coaches think Pullen is pretty good already by naming the 6-0 senior out of Maywood, Ill., the Preseason Player of the Year, he says, "I have a lot of areas to improve on."
 
"I want to get my assist-to-turnover ratio better, and offensively, I need to make sure I don't look for the home run on every play because teams are going to be looking for me to do that," said Pullen. "I just need to keep things simple and continue to take good shots, make the extra pass and just play as a mature player."
 
That maturity will also be put to test with Pullen being the No. 1 headliner on a campus of 25,000 students.
 
"It can be difficult, but it can also be fun," said Pullen on his Wildcat popularity. "There are times I just want to go about my business, but everywhere I go I'm stopped and asked about the team."
 
"I just have to take the approach that one day it could all be gone. I could roll my ankle getting out of bed and never play again," said Pullen. "I'm trying to embrace it and enjoy it every day. All that we receive could be gone in one day."