Sports Extra: Martin Excited about 2011-12 Roster

Head coach Frank Martin looks to guide K-State to the postseason for the fifth time.

Oct. 12, 2011

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By Mark Janssen

Frank Martin says, “By far, this is the most athletic team we’ve had. I think we’re faster, it’s our longest team and it’s the heaviest team we’ve had. We’re excited about this group. It’s been a fun group.”

With the opening of practice on Friday, the fifth-year Wildcat coach said of his collection of 16 players, “We have some guys that have been in the program for years and now it’s their turn. Other guys are just starting to spread their wings, and we have a third group that is brand new to the program and just learning our work ethic.”

Martin indicated that the individual workouts of the early fall season went well, but adds of the start of team drills, “The good thing about team practice is you can see who can sustain focus and effort for an extended period of time, and who can perform under duress. It’s just a time to see what guys can, and cannot do, and who can retain what we’re trying to teach them and put it to use in a game-like situation.”

Encouraging to Martin is the fact that proven Big 12 talent returns at every position.
• Point Guard – Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez, plus combo guards in Martavious Irving and Jeremy Jones
• Wings – Shane Southwell, Rodney McGruder, Victor Ojeleye and Omari Lawrence
• Hybrid Forward – Jamar Samuels and Nino Williams
• Power Forward – James Watson and Adrian Diaz
• Center – Jordan Henriquez and Thomas Gipson

The combination of Spradling, Southwell, McGruder, Samuels and Henriquez gives K-State a five-man unit of proven Big 12 performers from last year’s team that went 23-11 and reached the second-round of the NCAA Tournament.

McGruder averaged 11.4 points per game, while Samuels chipped in 8.6, Spradling 6.5, Irving 4.3 and Henriquez 3.7. McGruder led the team in rebounding with a 6.0 average, while Samuels collected 5.3 and Henriquez 4.3, respectively.

Of the depth, Martin says, “That’s what we continue to try to have. We felt we had depth last year, but after the season got going and we had some defections, depth became an issue.”

And with these numbers, Martin hopes K-State’s style of play can be more up-tempo than last year.

“I think we can play faster and with more aggressiveness,” said Martin. “Last year we had to slow it down because we just didn’t have as many guys who were ready to play that way.”

No Special Opening Night This Year
K-State will pass on a “late-night” basketball extravaganza this year. Explaining the decision, Martin said, “When there’s a home football game on Saturday, it’s OK to do it on Friday night, but they’re on the road this year so we decided to do away with the distraction.”

Openers Coming Soon
K-State opens the year on Nov. 6 against Fort Hays State, which will be followed by four more home games – 11th vs. Charleston Southern, 14th vs. Loyola, 22nd vs. Maryland Eastern Shore and Dec. 1 vs. George Washington.

That will be followed by traveling to Virginia Tech on Dec. 4 before playing Bob Huggins’ West Virginia team on Dec. 8 in Wichita.

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