By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The buzzer had sounded, the love fest on the floor of Bramlage Coliseum had been completed, and the Wildcats had skipped and pranced to their locker room following Monday's 84-68 victory over No. 1-ranked Kansas.
That's when the jovial disposition turned serious.
"We looked around and guys had those Doberman Pinscher faces on that people were talking about last year," said junior Jamar Samuels.
The Wildcats had just heard senior Jacob Pullen give the stern reminder that a year ago K-State defeated No. 1 Texas, 71-62, only to lose four days later to unranked Oklahoma State, 73-69, on their home floor of Bramlage Coliseum.
A year ago, Samuels said, "We came into practice the next day stuck on ourselves. We weren't trying to move forward. Today's (Thursday) practice was one of the best all year. There was a lot of blood on the ground. We were scrapping to be the team we can be."
Literally blood, or just a tough practice, Jamar?
"If somebody doesn't bleed in a Frank Martin practice, you're going to run," Samuels quipped. "I try to give the effort part, but Will (Spradling) had a bloody nose in the first two minutes in practice and that's just when we stretch."
Martin said that K-State's package against the Jayhawks of offense, defense, "and making shots," was as good as the team has had this year. But he added that since the second half of the first Kansas game, "I've been happy with this team. We've fought, competed and battled, and guys have grown up and come closer together."
Even in losses at Texas A&M and Colorado, Martin said, "We played our hearts out, but we just didn't make shots."
He would add, "This team has been through every possible emotion that you can imagine. As a group, they've experienced all the stuff of coming off a loss, coming off a win and those self-inflicted wounds. Does that mean we're going to win on Saturday? I have no idea."
It's today at 3 p.m., that the 5-6, 17-9 Wildcats will take on the 4-7, 12-13 Oklahoma Sooners in Bramlage Coliseum.
The Sooners have had a low-high-low league season going 0-3 to start the year, then winning four in a row, and now having lost four straight, which includes a 59-58 contest at home to Nebraska this past Wednesday.
OU is led by Andrew Fitzgerald and Cade Davis with respective averages of 13.7 and 12.3 points per game.
For the total season, OU is last in the league in scoring at 67.2 points per game and at the bottom in rebounding.
Kudos to Martin
The Wildcat basketball coach said he heard from past players like Denis Clemente, Darren Kent and Luis Colon after the win over Kansas, plus took calls from a host of coaching friends, which included a 2 a.m., call from former Wildcat head coach Bob Huggins.
"That's just the time we talk," Martin said of the early-morning hours. "There wasn't anything unusual about it."
In addition, Martin said that multiple members of teams he coached in high school have adopted the Wildcats as their team.
While saying his life has remained status quo, Martin said, "I'm happy for the guys. You don't beat Kansas unless you have guys going in who believe in each other. You don't just show up and say, 'Let's go beat Kansas.' "
Standing 'O' for JO
Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez-Roberts said he was greeted by a standing ovation when he entered the classroom for his 8:30 class on the day after the 16-point victory over Kansas. "They said they didn't expect me to be there."
Jamar Samuels said he had a 6:00 a.m., study table on the next day at Hale Library.
"Some guy grabbed my headphones off my head and told me I had a great game and he was happy we knocked off Kansas," said Samuels. "I thought somebody was trying to steal them. Those things are expensive, but I looked around and it was some dude about this tall (holding his hand five feet off the ground)."
Samuels called the 40 minutes of team basketball played against Kansas the best in his three years at K-State. "Wow, everybody played well. It's a memory never to forget."
Martin to Go on DL
Frank Martin has gimped around for six weeks and has had all he can stand. He plans to have surgery to repair ligament damage in his right knee on March 1, which is the day after the Wildcats play at Texas on "Big Monday."
The Wildcat coach will be back on the bench on Saturday, March 5, for the regular-season finale against Iowa State.
Next week's schedule has K-State going to Nebraska on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip, before returning home to host Missouri in an 11 a.m. start time on Saturday.
The final week of the season will have the Wildcats going to Texas on Feb. 28, and entertaining Iowa State on March 5.