By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Early this fall, Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin spoke to nearly 800 Wichita public school teachers on what he expects as a coach today, and as a teacher 15 to 20 years ago in the Miami school system.
1) Be on time
2) Be prepared mentally and physically
3) Gimme what you got.
Martin's message to the educators was this: "Kid's haven't changed, but it's adults that have changed. Our lack of demanding is what's changed."
That was this past August.
Fast-forward five months into the middle of this 2010-11 basketball season with the 1-2, 13-5 Wildcats heading into today's 4:30 tipoff at Missouri, and Martin's message is the same in trying to right K-State's ways in the Big 12 Conference.
"Today you hear that kids are different. Kids aren't different," Martin insisted. "It's adults accepting less from kids that's changed. That's my job. Not to accept less and to work on making them better.
"It's my job to get five guys on the floor on the same page," said Martin. "Obviously, I haven't done a good job of doing that."
It was after Saturday's 94-60 victory over Texas Tech that Martin took full blame for being a bad teacher through the first half of this basketball season.
"I constantly tell you that kids are kids, and they want discipline, they want structure and they want leadership," Martin said. "I fell in the same trap that some teachers and parents do, which is something I can't stand. That's being an adult that is allowing kids to fail. That's what I've been doing."
He then apologized to everyone willing to listen for the "nonsense that they've been watching" with this current basketball team that had gone just 3-3 prior to Saturday's win. "We need to get back to doing things our way."
Prior to Saturday, it was Jacob Pullen who said, "We have guys doing one thing, and then two or three not knowing what they're doing. It comes back to haunt us in every game."
To that, the Wildcat coach said he wasn't going to point fingers, except at himself.
"I'm not into blaming people. I'm into fixing problems," said Martin. "I don't criticize people for a living. I try to help people for a living and teach people for a living."
A former mathematics teacher, Martin continued, "My focus is on solving problems. It's my job to figure this out. They (players) don't know any better, they're kids. It's my job to get them through this. We just haven't dealt with adversity real well."
Saturday, K-State made sure that there was no adversity to deal with.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Day with Hoops
In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, ESPN is providing a quadruple-the-fun of Big 12/Big East basketball today.
Villanova at Connecticut open the day at 2:30, followed by K-State at Missouri at 4:30, Syracuse at Pittsburgh at 6:30; and, Kansas at Baylor at 8:30.
"Anytime you're given the opportunity to compete on a day that is a national holiday for a great human being, you want to be a part of it," said Martin. "You want to go out and represent him and his mission by doing your job the right way."
Scouting the Tigers
K-State vs. Mizzou hoops is always heated, but with each breed of cat opening Big 12 play with a 1-2 record, the level of intensity this afternoon will be upped, by a bunch.
With MU losing in overtime at Texas A&M on Saturday, Martin said, "They're probably not very happy, and the way they normally play isn't real happy. It can be nuts in their building, and it's a place that hasn't been friendly to us since I've been the head coach here."
In three trips to Columbia, Martin's K-State teams have lost 74-68, 94-74 and 77-74. This year, the Tigers are a perfect 11-0 in their home arena.
"Mike's (Anderson) team makes it a hard place to play," said Martin. "They play with that energy, that makes the crowd go nuts, and it becomes a difficult place to play."
MU is 15-3 on the year with their three losses coming in games where it scored 102 (111-102 loss to Georgetown in OT in Kansas City), 89 (91-89 loss to Texas A&M in OT in College Station), and 89 (89-76 to Colorado in Boulder).
Averaging 86 points per game, MU leads the Big 12 in scoring with five twin-figure scorers: Marcus Denman (17.6), Laurence Bowers (12.2), Michael Dixon (11.4), Ricardo Ratliffe (11.4) and Kim English (11.4).
Jake's On Fire
In Jacob Pullen's last four games, he has scored 87 points (21.7) on 27-of-53 (.509) shooting, which includes 10-of-26 (.384) from 3-point range, plus 23-of-29 (.793) from the foul line.
He also has 18 assists to 8 turnovers since his three-game suspension.
Against Tech, Pullen had 21 points, two rebounds, five assists, one blocked shot, one steal and no turnovers.
"Jake came off the suspension more focused in what he needs to do to help this basketball team, and how to prepare to play better and lead this team," said Martin.
Pullen added, "I just do whatever the team needs. I was able to get off the ball some, but if I have to play the point for 30 minutes, it is not a problem. We just have to be energized and enthusiastic."
Pullen is on a four-game run of 24, 20, 22 and 22 points. Last year he had one four-game stretch of 20-point games against Dayton (26), IUPUI (25), Fort Hays State (20) and Washington State (21).
K-State next plays on Saturday at 3-0, 16-1 Texas A&M in a 1 p.m., start. The Wildcats' next home game will be next Monday, Jan. 24, against 2-1, 12-4 Baylor in an 8 p.m., tipoff on ESPN.