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Martin, Cats Searching for Identity

By Mark Janssen

"Identity."
 
That was the buzz-word following Tuesday's K-State basketball exhibition opener against Newman of Wichita.

First, Jacob Pullen took the postgame microphone and said, "We are still trying to find our identity as a team. We have returned a lot of talent, but not a lot of experience, and now we are trying to find the right groups that match, and the groups with the right chemistry."
 
It was apparent that the message had just come from head coach Frank Martin after K-State's 83-56 victory over the Jets.
 
"We are trying to find our identity. People are trying to figure out how to handle their roles and responsibilities, which is a part of growth," said Martin, who will send his 'Cats against Washburn today at 2:30 in Bramlage Coliseum in the second of two exhibition games. "You do not take a guy that was a secondary player and expect him to play like a veteran player in his first time out. That takes time."
 
More time than the first 40 minutes of what is hoped to be a season that will extend beyond 1,500 minutes of play.
 
Calming the mood of an iffy exhibition opener, Pullen assured, "I do not see anything that is a red alert that will make me worry."
 
While play was hardly pristine, K-State won the second-chance point portion of the game, 25-4; points off turnovers, 30-16; points in the paint 38-21; and, points off the bench, 43-26.
 
Newman coach Mark Potter called K-State's defense "... as good as they come," and of Pullen, he said, "He's so good and so much fun to watch. Well, he's not fun to play against, but he is a lot of fun to watch."
 
While Pullen led the team in scoring with 15, on this night he was more of a director of the Wildcat offense.
 
"As a good player, you pick your shots when you need to score," he said. "The whole mentality of this game was to get people in their comfort zone and get people into whatever they do best. I didn't want people trying to do what they haven't done in practice. If a guy was a catch-and-shoot player in practice, I tried to get him catch-and-shoot shots."
 
On the same night K-State was posting a 27-point victory over Newman, Washburn was losing to Kansas by 30, 92-62.
 
While scoring just 62 points, the Ichabods did connect on 50 percent of their shots, which included 56 percent in the second half.
 
Washburn is coached by former Wildcat Bob Chipman. His son, Bobby, led Washburn in scoring against Kansas with 14 points coming on 6-of-7 from the field.
 
K-State will open regular season play against James Madison on Friday in Bramlage Coliseum.
 
WHAT'S THAT LOOP? For those watching the K-State vs. Newman game this past Tuesday, there might have been a question about the white loop in the free throw lane.
 
Officially, it's called the "Two Foot Restricted Area Arc" and it is a "preseason" experiment by the NCAA.
 
The area is located two feet out from the center of the basket and if a defensive player has any part of his sneaker in the area, it will always be a no-call or a blocking foul, but never will the defender get credit for taking a charge if inside the arc.
 
Normally, the NCAA runs a one- or two-year experiment before adopting it as a rule for the regular season.