Editor's Note: Before we tackle the Kansas State - Colorado game, "Sports Extra" thanks Jeff Anderson from Overland Park for putting us on to the sicovers.com web site. We found five Wildcats to have ever graced the cover of SI with those being: Larry Brown as a Washington Redskin in November of 1972; Rolando Blackman at the NCAA Tournament in March of 1981; Darren Sproles with the San Diego Chargers in January of 2009; and, Jordy Nelson with the Green Bay Packers this week. Jacob Pullen also made a "regional" cover on this year's college basketball preview issue. If we missed one, let us know. Oh, nope ... we couldn't find Mitch Richmond.
By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - A big game? Yes.
A crucial game? To that phrase coach Frank Martin says, "The only thing that is crucial is that the good Lord allows you to wake up the next day. If that happens, then you have a chance to get better."
That's the approach Martin and his Kansas State Wildcats take to Boulder, Colo., today when they take on the Colorado Buffaloes in an 8 p.m. tipoff. The game will be telecast on ESPNU.
The teams are going in opposite directions, as after a 3-0 start to the Big 12 season, Colorado (15-10) has dropped six of its past seven with four of those being by a total of 15 points - four-point losses to KU, Baylor and Missouri, and a three-point loss on Wednesday night in OT to Texas A&M.
While the Buffs are going south in the standings, Kansas State (16-8) is going north after opening the year 1-4 in league play, it has since won three of its last four games.
To that record, Martin says, "Maybe we have some people jumping off bridges because we didn't satisfy their expectations, but I am extremely excited about what our basketball team has done to this point. Does that mean we're going to win a bunch of games? I have no idea. I hope so."
Now into the second half of the league season, Martin's theme is one game at a time.
"I thought we could win all 16 (league games). If I thought any different I'd be cheating those kids in the locker room," said Martin. "Obviously, we're not going to win 16, so my goal is to win No. 5. The only way to get to No. 6 is to get to No. 5 first."
While winning three of the last four is nice, Martin stressed, "If we think we have this figured out, we're going to be 4-9 in a hurry. We've dug ourselves out of a hole, but we still have to understand we're on thin ice. If you dig yourself out and start assuming you have things figured out, you'll go right back in the hole."
Martin repeated that it was a "daily process" in the K-State camp and one where the team can't afford looking forward to the Kansas game on Monday, or any game after that.
"We can't allow ourselves to worry about game No. 15 when we're trying to prepare to play No. 10," said the Wildcat coach. "When game No. 10 is over, we'll worry about No. 11. You can say that's boring coach talk, but that's the reality."
Last Time Out
Jan. 12, 2011 - Colorado 74, Kansas State 66 - Bramlage Coliseum.
Martin summarized the game by saying, "We were pathetic defensively."
The Buffs snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Wildcats by shooting 50 percent from the field, which included 67 percent - 8-of-12 - from 3-point range. Reserve Levi Knutson led the way by going 6-of-8 from afar and scoring 20 points.
Alec Burks has been CU's leading scorer in each of the last seven games with five of those being games of at least 20 points.
Along with Cory Higgins and Marcus Relphorde, the Buffs have three 6-6, 6-7 types who, as Martin says, "All can shoot the 3, all can drive you, and all are strong with the ball. We're going to need three guys with size who can guard the dribble."
One Game Out of Fourth
One can choose to look at it in different ways. Yes, K-State is in a tie for eighth, but also a tie for fifth at 4-5 along with Missouri, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Those teams trail 5-4 Texas A&M by one game for fourth place, and are a game-and-a-half in back of third-place Baylor at 6-4.
To mid-year standings, Martin says, "You have to worry about your game. We're only worried about us and maximizing who we are to win as many games as we can."
K-State returns to Manhattan in the early morning hours of Sunday and will then begin preparing for the Kansas Jayhawks and a "Big Monday" attraction on ESPN.