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Notes and Quotes from Tucson

By Mark Janssen   

PULLEN SICKISH: K-State's Jacob Pullen missed the Wildcats two practices on Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms. Wildcat officials fully expect Pullen to be ready for tonight's 8:57 tipoff at the McKale Center against Utah State.

SPRADLING USED TO TOUGH-TOUGH COACHES: One of those Frank Martin has been toughest on this season has been freshman guard Will Spradling.

On Martin's toughness on his son, his father Shannon Spradling said, "(Will) called home early in the year and said that I was way tougher on him than Frank, and that's truthful."

Shannon coached Will during his kid-ball days with the Spiece Mo-Kan AAU team, and it's through those years that he says, "I'm actually not surprised by his success this year. I've watched him play, and other guys who went Division I play, so I expected him to do what he's done."

What Spradling has done in his rookie season is average 6.5 points with nearly a 2-to-1 ratio in assists-to-turnovers, plus have 28 steals to rank second on the team, and take 19 charges to lead the squad.

If there was a question, dad Spradling said, "Will has been a late grower. I think he still may be growing up, and for sure width-wise. That was his biggest issue coming out of high school."

It was in high school at Shawnee Mission South that Spradling became the school's second-leading scorer with 1,225 career points helped by a 20.1-point and 5.7-assist senior season.

As for his future with the Wildcats, the elder Spradling said, "That's difficult to project, but he's been a kid who has always been able to figure out his role on the team regardless of the team and who he was playing with. And I know this, he loves the game, loves Frank and loves this team, which is going to make it easier for him to progress.

"He's never going to be the most athletic kid on the floor, but he knows how to make up for it," said Spradling of his son. "He has a knowledge of the game and his own skill set of understanding the angles of the game, which can help lead to success."

As to whether he's still Will's coach, Shannon replied, "Early in the year, yes, but now he doesn't listen to me anymore."

MARTIN'S OPENING COMMENTS: Clad in shorts after arriving in Tucson on Tuesday, Martin said of the 80-plus degree temperatures and the task at hand, "After a long winter, I have no problem with a little heat. This time of year, it's all systems go. There are different styles, different techniques, different theories, but they all win."

PLAYING THE AGGIES: It's interesting to note that the Wildcats have a 4-0 all-time record against Utah State. Of those games, one was the first game ever played in Ahearn Fieldhouse on Dec. 9, 1950 (66-56), and one was on Nov. 30, 1988, which was the second game ever played in Bramlage Coliseum (86-67).

MORE FROM THE CATS
CURTIS KELLY ON THE SEASON: "Now is the time. Now is the time we're finally getting it right. We finally knocked off all the negative stuff. We're on a positive note as far as mentally."

KELLY ON THE FACT THAT A 12-SEED HAS DEFEATED A 5-SEED IN NINE OF THE LAST 10 YEARS: "They're a good team. Any team that walks away with 30 wins and dominated their conference is a great team. I respect them. But I'm still going to go out and play and want the win more probably then them, in my mind. That's my mind. They probably think the same thing in their mind."

FRANK MARTIN ON UTAH STATE BEING A MID-MAJOR: "You are either a good team, or you're not. I used to be at a mid-major and we beat high majors. You are either a good team, or you're not. You either have a championship culture, or you don't."

TUCSON, MCKALE NOT ALL THAT FRIENDLY TO 'CATS: K-State is 2-5 all-time in games played in Tucson, which includes a 1-4 mark at the McKale Center, which opened in 1973.

The last two trips have definitely been stinkers as the K-State Wildcats lost in 1999 to the Arizona Wildcats 88-69 and in 1997 by the score of 125-87 on the day before Michael Bishop and the football 'Cats defeated Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl.

The 14,545-seat McKale Center is the largest in the Pac-10 with games played on the Lute and Bobbi Olson Court, named in honor of the former Wildcat coach.

PULLEN NOTES: Here's an update on Jacob Pullen heading into the NCAA Tournament:
... needs 43 points to tie Mike Evans school record of 2,115 points
... needs 25 points to tie Nick Collison for the No. 4 position for all-time scorers in Big 12 history.
... needs two more starts to tie Rolando Blackman for third in school history with 116. Ed Nealy and Steve Henson each had 118.
... averaged 19.5 points for the total season, and 21.4 for the 16 Big 12 games.
... averaged 21.5 points in Bramlage Coliseum games, and 17.4 on the road.
...averaged 20.7 points in K-State's 22 wins, and 17.0 in the 10 losses.

WILDCAT TRIVIA:
Only Rodney McGruder started and played in every K-State game this season.
K-State had nine games of shooting at least 75 percent from the foul line, and 14 below 60 percent.
McGruder led the team in rebounding 14 times for a team high.
Will Spradling drew a team-high 19 charges.

FORMER WILDCATS NOW ARIZONA WILDCATS: They haven't been spotted but former K-State footballers now are in prominent positions at Arizona. Mike Stoops is the Wildcats head football coach and Erik Harper is the Director of Football Operations.

ON THE TUBE: Thursday's game will be televised by TruTV, which is Cox Cable channel 64 in much of the state of Kansas.


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.