By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Frank Martin was right to the point Monday in an informal gathering of the media: "Wally (Judge) quit the team today. He says he's not happy. I've kind of seen it coming with some of his emotional situations, he just has not been enjoying it. He told me this morning he thinks it's time for a change."
Judge becomes the second front-line Wildcat to quit in the last three weeks as Freddy Asprilla left the team in mid-January and plans to continue his career at Canisius.
Martin said that the 6-foot-9 Judge, a four-star talent and McDonald's All-American out of Washington D.C., gave no indications of his future playing plans.
Of the decision, Martin said, "Why do something if you're not enjoying it? He's been here a year-and-a-half and if he's not enjoying the moment, he's doing the right thing. I'm not going to stay where I'm not happy."
Saying that the door was open for Judge to return, Martin said, "I wish him nothing but the best. He's a beautiful kid."
Judge had played in 17 of K-State's 22 games this year with 11 of those being early-season starts averaging 15 minutes per game, 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
In Big 12 play, Judge had averaged 11 minutes of play with the production slipping to 2.0 points and 2.5 rebounds. In Saturday's game with Kansas, Judge played 17 minutes, but made just 1-of-7 from the field, captured two rebounds and fouled out.
A year ago, Judge, who came to K-State as a higher profile recruit than KU's Morris twins (Markus and Markieff), averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds.
As to what prevented Judge's progress as a player, Martin said, "I don't know. If I knew that answer, he'd probably still be here."
Asked if the rest of the team was still true to the program, Martin offered, "We'll find out. I think so, but you never know."
The Kelly Report
In Saturday's 24-point loss to Kansas, Wildcat Curtis Kelly was limited to 10 minutes, all in the first half.
In explaining his benching of Kelly, Martin said, "I wasn't pleased with him, his demeanor, his body language, so I just chose to go a different way."
Martin added, "It's been hard to get him focused in on the moment. When he does, he plays well and helps us. When he doesn't play as well, we don't play as well as a team. He's a big part of who we are."
Kelly starred for the Wildcats in a 64-56 loss to Texas A&M two weeks ago when he enjoyed a double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, plus six blocked shots while playing 34 minutes.
The 6-foot-8 senior is averaging 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds this year after posting numbers of 11.5 and 6.2, respectively, last year. That included a stretch run in the NCAA Tournament when he averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in the final four games of the season.
A lot of that success, Martin said, "... was due to the unbelievable leadership that team had."
With the departure of the 6-10 Asprilla and 6-9 Judge, K-State's front line includes only the 6-8 Kelly, 7-0 Jordan Henriquez-Roberts and 6-7 Jamar Samuels as scholarship players.
Along with Kelly's numbers dropping, so have those of Samuels (11.0 points to 9.6; 4.9 rebounds to 5.9), while Henriquez-Roberts has only maintained from his freshman year (2.1 points to 3.3; 2.5 rebounds to 3.7).
In moving forward with a depleted front line, Martin said, "It is what it is. It's a team effort."
On his own welfare through this turbulent season, Martin said, "I'm good. I enjoy this team. We got ambushed the other night and didn't respond real well, but this team has come back and practiced well. We're upbeat."
He added, "I try not to dwell on the negative, I deal with the issues and move forward."
Martin says when he looks in a mirror, he might blame himself for dealing with too many in-house distractions early in the year rather than focusing on the players "... staying the course and trying to move forward."
He then told the story of coaching legend Rick Pitino visiting one of his high school practices.
"He approached me afterward and said, 'I'm not telling you how to do your job, but you're spending a lot of time worrying about three guys in practice.' Those are the three who weren't doing what I was asking them to do. With the other 12 who were really trying, I was not giving any love," said Martin.
Early in this season, he said, "I was committing energies dealing with issues rather than committing energies to coaching this team to get better. I kept begging for leadership, and the guys capable of doing it were begging me to help them. I was neglecting them because I was dealing with the other stuff."
He concluded, "if I realized that too late, that's on me; if I didn't, then we can get back on track, which I think we are."