K-State Opens 2011-12 Season vs. Charleston Southern

Freshman Angel Rodriguez scored a team-high 15 points in the exhibition game vs. Fort Hays State on Sunday.

Nov. 10, 2011

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Game 1: Charleston Southern (0-0)
Friday, November 11, 2011

7:10 p.m. CT * Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: FOX Sports Kansas City HD (ESPN3.com)
Ben Boyle (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Channel Directory: DirecTV 672, Dish 448, AT&T U-verse 750
HD Channel Directory: DirecTV 672-1, Dish 9518, AT&T 1750

Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Mike Clark (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 135

Live Stats:  www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday

K-State in Season Openers: 83-24 (71-8 at home)
At Bramlage Coliseum: 18-1 (Won 17 in a row)
Current Streak: Won 8

Projected Starting Line-up
Kansas State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)
G - Will Spradling (6-2, 180, So.)
G - Martavious Irving (6-1, 210, Jr.)
G - Rodney McGruder (6-4, 205, Jr.)
F - Thomas Gipson (6-7, 275, Fr.)
F - Jordan Henriquez (6-11, 250, Jr.)

Charleston Southern (0-0, 0-0 Big South)
G - Saah Nimley (5-8, 155, Fr.)
G - Jeremy Sexton (6-2, 175, Jr.)
F - Arlon Harper (6-6, 225, Jr.)
F - Kelvin Martin (6-5, 205, Jr.)
F - Cedrick Bowen (6-5, 225, Fr.)

The Game
K-State officially opens the 2011-12 men’s basketball season on Friday night, as the Wildcats continue their four-game homestand to start the season against Charleston Southern (0-0) at Bramlage Coliseum.  The school is 83-24 (.776) all-time in season openers, including a 71-8 (.899) mark at home.  The team has won eight consecutive season openers since 2003 with their last loss coming to BYU, 73-64, on Nov. 23, 2002 at the Paradise Jam held in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Overall, the Wildcats have won 17 straight openers at home, including a remarkable 18-1 (.947) record at Bramlage Coliseum, with the last setback coming to Southern Miss, 74-60, on Nov. 27, 1993.  Head coach Frank Martin is 4-0 in season openers with an average margin of 30.5 points in victories against Sacramento State (94-63), Florida A&M (96-57), Loyola Chicago (92-54) and James Madison (75-61).

The Opponent
Charleston Southern will be making its season debut as well on Friday, as the Buccaneers return seven lettermen and three starters from a team that posted a 16-16 overall record and a 9-9 mark in Big South play in 2010-11.  Junior forward Kelvin Martin is the team’s top returning player after averaging 12.3 points on 59.7 percent shooting from the field to go with 9.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game as a sophomore.  Fellow junior Jeremy Sexton and sophomore Sheldon Strickland also return after averaging 10.8 and 8.5 points per game, respectively, a season ago.  The Buccaneers averaged 73.8 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting in 32 games in 2010-11, while allowing 68.7 points on 44.8 percent shooting to its opponents. This will be the first meeting between the two schools, while K-State is 6-1 against teams from the Big South Conference, including a 6-0 mark at home.  The Wildcats have won six straight over Big South schools, including a 76-67 win over Presbyterian on Nov. 18, 2010.

Opening Tip
K-State is expected to start the same line-up as the exhibition game against Fort Hays State last Sunday with juniors Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez, sophomore Will Spradling and freshman Thomas Gipson.  It would mark the first time in the Frank Martin era that a senior has not opened the season in the starting line-up and the first time overall for the Wildcats with no opening day senior starter since 1983-84.  In addition, Gipson would be the first true freshman to start an opener since three rookies - Ron Anderson, Michael Beasley and Jacob Pullen - started the Sacramento State game on Nov. 9, 2007.  A start would also be the first for Irving in his career after playing in 66 of the last 71 games off the bench.  Henriquez (6), McGruder (34) and Spradling (6) have all recorded starts in their careers, but only McGruder has started in a season opener.

Wildcat Weekend 
The season opener kicks off a Wildcat Weekend in Manhattan, as fans will be able to see a number of teams in action.  The 14th-ranked Wildcat football team will host Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, while the women’s basketball squad will open their season by hosting Dartmouth at 8 p.m.  Fans can use their men’s basketball ticket or their Texas A&M football ticket to receive a $3 GA ticket to the women’s basketball game.  Tickets are still available for the football game for $50 each. 

Cats For Cans 
As a reminder, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will hold its 16th annual Cats for Cans food drive prior to the Texas A&M football game on Saturday.  Fans are encouraged to help fight hunger in the Manhattan area by bringing canned foods or cash donations.  Student-athletes will begin collecting two hours prior to kick in the parking lot and at all entrances.

Up Next: Loyola Chicago (0-0)
K-State will make a quick turnaround and host Loyola Chicago (0-0) on Monday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.  The contest will end a 3-game contract that included a 92-54 win on Nov. 13, 2009 and a 68-60 victory in Chicago on Dec. 11 last season.

Last Time Out
K-State won its one and only exhibition game on Sunday with a 90-60 victory over Division II foe Fort Hays State.  The team has now won 12 consecutive exhibition games dating back to 2003.  The Wildcats used a balanced scoring attack with five players in double figures led by rookie Angel Rodriguez, who scored 15 points off the bench to go with a team-best 5 assists.  He went 4-of-5 from the field, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range.  Fellow freshman Thomas Gipson posted 14 points and 6 rebounds in a start, while junior Jordan Henriquez added a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.  Junior Martavious Irving and Will Spradling each chipped in 12 points as starters.  Overall, the Wildcats shot 46.2 percent from the field, including 35 percent from 3-point range, to go with 18 assists, 8 steals and 5 blocks. 

What’s Back in 2011-12
K-State returns seven lettermen in 2011-12, including five players with starting experience, from a team that posted a 23-11 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons.  Junior guard Rodney McGruder is the returning leader in both scoring (11.1 ppg.) and rebounding (5.9 rpg.) after starting all 34 games a year ago.  McGruder earned third team All-Big 12 honors from the league coaches.  Others returning with starting experience include senior forward Jamar Samuels (8.5 ppg., 5.4 rpg.), junior forward Jordan Henriquez (3.7 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) and sophomores Will Spradling (6.4 ppg., 1.9 apg.) and Shane Southwell (1.8 ppg., 2.1 rpg.).  In all, the squad returns 50 percent of its scoring and field goals, 57 percent of its rebounding, 53 percent of its assists and 61 percent of its minutes from last season.

What's Gone in 2011-12
This will mark the first time since 2006-07 that K-State will enter a season without guard Jacob Pullen.  The school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points, Pullen left with six other career school records, including games played (135), double-digit scoring (105), 3-point field goals (299) and steals (210).  He also led the Wildcats to a school-record 95 wins and four consecutive postseason appearances, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament.  A two-time All-American and first team All-Big 12 pick, Pullen was the 2011 winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior, six-foot and under.  Also lost from last season is forward Curtis Kelly, who finished in the Top 10 in two career categories in his two-year career.

Pullen Signs with Angelico Biella
Two-time All-American Jacob Pullen signed his first professional contract with Pallacanestro Biella, also known as Angelico Biella, of the Italian League in mid-July.  The school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,132 points, he joined a squad that posted an 11-19 record in the Series A of the Italian League, the highest level of pro basketball in the country.  He is one of two American-born players on the squad, which also includes former Houston standout Aubrey Coleman.  As of Nov. 10, he was second to Coleman in scoring (15.8 ppg.) through five games on 42.9 percent shooting, including 36.7 percent from 3-point range.  Pullen also leads the team in both assists (2.6 apg.) and steals (2.8 spg.).  Angelico Biella is based in the town of Biella in northwest Italy, which has a population of around 50,000 at the foothills of the Alps.  It is around 50 miles from Turin and Milan. 

New Faces 
The Wildcats welcome eight newcomers in 2011-12, which includes a mix of three transfers and five freshmen.  Juniors Jeremy Jones and James Watson were both standouts at the junior college level a season ago, while sophomore Omari Lawrence sat out last year after playing his freshman season at St. John’s in 2009-10.  Freshmen Adrian Diaz, Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez were all highly-recruited prep players to go along with walk-ons Shawn Meyer and Brian Rohleder.

Here are brief thumbnails on each newcomer:
--Jeremy Jones (6-2, 170, Junior) - A transfer from Seward County [Kan.] Community College, he averaged a team-best 18.6 points on 48.9 percent shooting, including 37.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with 4.5 assists per game en route to earning third team NJCAA All-American honors.  He helped the Saints to a 27-7 record and a Jayhawk West Conference title.
--James Watson (6-8, 230, Junior) - A transfer from Cowley [Kan.] College, he averaged 10.4 points on 48.8 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.  He helped the Tigers to 25 wins.  He also played two years at Washington State.
--Omari Lawrence (6-3, 220, Sophomore) - Sit out the 2010-11 season after playing his freshman year at St. John’s in 2009-10.  He averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds for the Red Storm in 25 games as a rookie and a trip to the NIT.
--Adrian Diaz (6-10, 225, Freshman) - Rated among the Top 150 players in the country, Diaz averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks as a senior at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, where he helped the Trojans to a 23-5 record in 2010-11.
--Thomas Gipson (6-7, 275, Freshman) - Also another Top 150 prospect, Gipson helped Cedar Hill High School to a 33-4 record as a senior while averaging just over 15 points per game.  He scored in double figures in 32 games with seven 20-point outings.
--Angel Rodriguez (5-11, 180, Freshman) - One of the top prospects in the state of Florida, Rodriguez helped Krop High School to the No. 1 ranking in the state before the season was cut short due to an ineligible player.  He averaged 23 points and 6 assists.
--Shawn Meyer (6-3, 210, Freshman) - Averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds in his two-year career at Blue Springs South High.
--Brian Rohleder (6-3, 210, Freshman) - Averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds as a senior at Bishop Carroll High School.

The Race for 100 
Head coach Frank Martin enters the 2011-12 campaign just five wins shy of 100 for his career at K-State.  He would become just the fourth head coach in school history to eclipse the 100-victory plateau and the first since Jack Hartman (295-169; 1970-86) did it in midway through the 1975-76 season.  Other 100-win coaches include Naismith Hall of Famers Jack Gardner (147-81, 1939-42, 1946-53) and Fred “Tex” Winter (261-118, 1954-68).  Martin has a chance to win 100 games faster than all but Winter, who notched his 100th win in his 142nd game as head coach midway through the 1958-59.  Hartman won 100 games in 149 games, while Gardner did it in his 170th game in his second stint as coach in 1950-51. 

The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Martin is the first Wildcat head coach to post a 20-win season in each of his first four years and joined Lon Kruger as the only coaches to guide teams to the postseason in his first four seasons.  The three NCAA Tournament appearances in a four-year span are the most since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1986-90.

Ojeleye To Serve As Big 12 SAAC Vice-Chair in 2011-12
Senior walk-on Victor Ojeleye was recently elected by his conference peers to serve as Vice-Chair of the Big 12 Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) during the 2011-12 athletics season.  A two-time first team Academic All-Big 12 selection, Ojeleye saw action in 24 games as a junior in 2010-11, averaging 1.8 points on 46.2 percent shooting with 1.6 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per game.  He scored in 10 games, including a season-high 12 points against North Florida on Dec. 31, 2010.   

A double major in accounting and finance, Ojeleye earned the inaugural Dr. Gerald Lage Award from the Big 12 Conference in 2010-11, which is given to student-athletes who have earned 100 or more hours of credit with a cumulative 3.8 GPA.  He also has been named to both the Fall and Spring Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Rolls each of the past two years, including a perfect 4.0 GPA during the Spring 2011 semester. 

FOX Sports Kansas City Scheduled to Broadcast Games in HD
FOX Sports Kansas City announced Nov. 4 that all 10 Kansas State men’s basketball games on the network are scheduled to be broadcast in high definition.  In addition, six of these broadcasts will be available to the entire FOX Sports Midwest footprint, which includes more than 5.9 million cable and satellite television homes in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana.  These games include Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday, Nov. 22, George Washington on Thursday, Dec. 1, North Florida on Sunday, Dec. 11, Howard on Saturday, Dec. 31, Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 28 and Iowa State on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The remaining four contests will be shown on the FOX Sports Kansas City footprint, which includes 1.2 million cable and satellite homes in the state of Kansas and Kansas City metro area.  These contests include Sunday’s exhibition against Fort Hays State, the season opener against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11, Loyola Chicago on Nov. 14 and Baylor on Jan. 10.

K-State once again has a comprehensive television package with all 31 games being televised.  Many of the 10 FSKC broadcasts will be available on the ESPN Full Court package.  In addition, the Wildcats will have 12 nationally-televised games, including a combined six appearances on ESPN/ESPN2, and nine regular-season games broadcast on the Big 12 Network, which is distributed to affiliates around the country.  FOX Sports Kansas City is in its ninth year as a third-tier television rights holder for K-State Athletics.  In addition to its men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball coverage, the network has the Bill Snyder, Frank Martin and Deb Patterson television shows.

‘Cats Picked 6th in Big 12 Preseason Poll
Kansas State was selected to finish sixth in the preseason 2011-12 Big 12 Conference coaches’ poll released by the league office in early October.  The Wildcats received 39 points to earn sixth place in the new 10-team conference configuration, just 12 points behind fifth-place Texas (51) and six points ahead of seventh-place Oklahoma State (33).  The coaches were deadlocked on the preseason favorite with Kansas and Texas A&M each garnering 73 points, however, the Jayhawks did receive five of 10 first-place votes.  In all, four teams collected first-place recognition for just the second time with Texas A&M (2), Baylor (2) and Missouri each earning at least one first-place vote.  Baylor (63) and Missouri (61) followed the preseason duo in third and fourth-places, respectively, while Texas and K-State rounded out the top 6.  The rest of the poll included OSU, Iowa State (27), Oklahoma (15) and Texas Tech (15).  Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.

The sixth-place prediction is the lowest since K-State was picked eighth prior to the 2008-09 season.  The Wildcats, who tied Texas A&M for third place in the Big 12 in 2010-11, are one of only two teams to finish in the league’s top-4 and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the past five seasons.  With only 10 teams, the top-6 will earn a bye in the 2012 event with the lower four seeds playing on the first day. 

Martin Announces Staff Promotions 
Looking to maintain the program’s momentum and consistency, head coach Frank Martin announced coaching staff promotions in early June, including the elevation of Lamont Evans as a full-time assistant.  In addition, he also promoted Brad Underwood to associate head coach and assistant coach Matt Figger to recruiting coordinator. 

Evans has played a pivotal role in the development of the program the past three years, beginning as an undergraduate manager in 2008-09 the continuing as a graduate manager from 2009-11.  During this span, he helped K-State post a 74-31 (.705) record, which including three trips to the postseason highlighted by consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2011.

A native of Eleuthera, Bahamas, Evans came to the U.S. at the age of 5, eventually settling in Deerfield Beach, Fla.  He played his first two years of college basketball at Seminole (Fla.) Junior College in Sanford, Fla., and St. Catharine College in St. Catharine, Ky., before enrolling as Drake in 1999.  He played two seasons for the Bulldogs, appearing in 42 games from 1999 to 2001.  For his career, he averaged 8.0 points on 41.5 percent shooting with 5.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.  He spent seven years playing professionally, including stops internationally in Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Belgium and Venezuela.

A former Wildcat lettermen, Underwood is in his 24th season as a college coach, including his sixth at K-State.  He received much acclaim last season, as Martin took his suggestion of adjusting the offensive scheme to the “pinch-post” in early January.  Figger is in his 19th season as a coach, including his fifth at K-State and assumes the recruiting coordinator position.

McGruder, Spradling Compete in Europe
Junior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Will Spradling both competed for all-stars teams in Europe this past summer.  Spradling played for Athletes in Action’s tour of Macedonia and Kosovo in Eastern Europe from May 25-30, while McGruder played with the East Coast All-Stars during their trip to the Four Nations Cup in Estonia in early August.

Spradling, playing alongside Big 12 brethren Cory Jefferson and A.J. Walton of Baylor and Jordan Juenemann and Jeff Withey of Kansas helped the AIA squad to a 6-1 record, including the tournament championship against Poland.  He was named the most valuable player and to the All-Tournament team.  He scored 20 or more points twice in the tournament, including a team-high 23 in the team’s only loss to Poland (May 24) and a team-best 25 vs.  the Bulgarian U20 National Team (May 27).  He posted 14 vs. Bulgaria Select (May 26), while he had eight points and four assists vs. the Kosovoan National Team (May 31).

McGruder was named to the Four Nations Cup All-Tournament, as the East Coast All-Stars finished third in the event behind Estonia (2-1) and Georgia (2-1) and ahead of fourth-place Sweden (1-2).  He was the only All-Star named to the all-tournament team after averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals in the three-game tournament.  He hit the game-winning shot in the win over Sweden (August 5) before pouring in 22 points and 14 rebounds in the 98-81 loss to Georgia (August 6).