Editor's Note: In preparation for Monday's men's basketball game against Kansas, K-State Sports Extra will feature two of the great Wildcat-Jayhawk games from yesteryear this week.
February 7, 2014
By Mark Janssen
The date was Feb. 7, 1962. The venue was Allen Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Kansas.
At the time, no Kansas State Wildcat had ever scored more than the 45 points that Bob Boozer poured in against Purdue in 1958.
At the time, only the amazing Wilt Chamberlain had scored as many as 46 points in the Jayhawks' Allen Fieldhouse.
"I think we won 91-72 (and K-State did), and the funny thing about that game is that I had the flu and was running a temperature," said Mike Wroblewski. "The team doctor said I could start, but just to give Tex (Coach Winter) the signal when I couldn't go any longer."
Wroblewski went... and went... and went.
He scored 46 points on 17-of-34 shooting from the field, plus added 12 free throws, and he gobbled up a dozen rebounds.
"Kansas was good, but they didn't have anyone with size that could guard me," said the 6-foot-8 Wroblewski, who now lives in Atlanta, Ga. "I honestly didn't realize I was scoring that many points, but I knew our offense was running smoothly. We had a team of amazing passers, and I was getting position and the guys were hitting me with precise passes."
As Wroblewski continues the storyline of the game, "It was late in the game and we had it won. I was sitting on the bench just happy to be resting when word came to the bench that I needed only two more points to tie Wilt's record. (Laughing) I went back in the game with our second- and third-teamers, and of course they wanted to score, so I wasn't getting the ball to have a chance to shoot."
Wroblewski finally did get the ball, was fouled, and made the two free throws for point Nos. 45 and 46 of the game.
Today, Wroblewski's performance ranks No. 1 in K-State history for scoring in a conference game in terms of points, field goals made and field goals attempted.
Overall in Wildcat history, Wroblewski's 46 points ranks third only to Askia Jones' 62 against Fresno State in the 1994 NIT and Chuckie Williams' 47 against Holy Cross in the 1975 NCAA Tournament.
Wroblewski finished his four-year career from the 1959-60 season through the 1961-62 season with a 10.7 scoring average, which included a 19.0 average as a senior when he earned First Team All-Big Eight honors.
"I think the best thing I had going was that I was quick. I wasn't a great jumper, but I had a good shot from 15 foot in, and I had a good hook shot," said Wroblewski. "If a guy was in my face, I could give a fake and drive by him."
K-State went 16-10, 22-5 and 22-3 in Wroblewski's three seasons, which included Big Eight titles in 1960 and 1961, and a second-place finish in 1962. In those three years, K-State won 35 Big Eight games under the coaching of Winter.
"Tex was basketball," Wroblewski said. "He was a basic fundamentals guy and was very constant in his message, which was playing the game right. Tex's life was basketball. It's what he thought about non-stop. He was a teacher and stayed by his principles. He always said, 'If you do this right and execute what I'm teaching, regardless if they have better players, we will win the game.'"
Of Winter's triangle offense, Wroblewski said, "It was a thinking man's offense that had a real five-man connection. Basketball can be a one-man game, or a two-man game, but we were taught that all five positions were equally important."
Laughing, Wroblewski said of Winter's passion for basketball, "The players went over to his house after a game when we had lost and he was really upset. Finally, Nancy (Tex's wife) said, 'Tex, there are a billion people in China who don't even know what basketball is.' I'm not sure he thought it was funny, but the players sure did."
Wroblewski grew up in South Bend, Ind., before arriving in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Laughing, he said, "I grew up wanting to go see the world and that just happened to start in Manhattan, Kansas."
As for playing in Ahearn Field House, Wroblewski admitted that his lasting memory is different than most.
"I remember Ahearn being loaded with people and looking to the south end of the building where the flag hung and the singing of the National Anthem," said Wroblewski, who posted a 30-2 career record in Ahearn. "I remember the hair on the back of my neck sticking up during that time every night that we played."
Wroblewski, who was drafted by the NBA's Cincinnati Royals and ABA's Kansas City Bulls, played his senior season with a severe back injury that would result in surgery at the end of the year and, for all practical purposes, ended his professional career before it started.
Wroblewski worked for AT&T for 30 years before going into international sales while living in Asia before returning to Atlanta, Ga., where he retired and continues to live.
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 Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.