K-State, West Virginia Battle in Wichita Wildcat Classic
K-State, West Virginia Battle in Wichita Wildcat Classic
Dec. 7, 2011
Kansas State (5-0) vs. West Virginia (4-2)
Wichita Wildcat Classic
Thursday, December 8, 2011 * 8:05 p.m. CT * Wichita, Kan. * INTRUST Bank Arena (15,004)
Television: ESPN2 HD
Jon Sciambi (play-by-play); Fran Fraschilla (analyst)
Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 94/XM 190
Live Stats: www.k-statesports.com/multimedia
Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday
K-State vs. West Virginia: 1-0 (W, 49-44; 12/12/1949)
vs. Big East: 18-25 (7-11 on neutral site)
Kansas State (5-0) will welcome back former head coach Bob Huggins to the state of Kansas on Thursday night, as Wildcats battle future Big 12 foe West Virginia (4-2) in the Wichita Wildcat Classic at INTRUST Bank Arena. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 8:05 p.m. CT with Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) on the call. The teams face off at INTRUST Bank Arena, which opened in 2010 in downtown Wichita. It will mark just the third men’s college game in the 15,004-seat arena, following contests by Wichita State in 2010 and 2011. The arena just hosted the 2011 First and Second Rounds of NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
A limited number of tickets are available for Thursday’s game at www.PaintWichitaPurple.com.
West Virginia enters Thursday’s game with 4-2 record after dropping a 75-62 decision at No. 21/24 Mississippi State in the SEC-Big East Challenge on Saturday. The Mountaineers had won three in a row prior to the loss, including wins over 2011 NCAA Tournament teams Morehead State (83-48) and Akron (77-56). Under head coach Bob Huggins, the squad is averaging 76.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting (167-of-354), including 28.1 percent (27-of-96) from 3-point range, to go with 40.7 rebounds, 15.5 assists, 8.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game. Once again K-State will another strong defensive team, as West Virginia allows just 63.7 points on 41 percent shooting, including 29.9 percent from 3-point range. Senior Kevin Jones leads four players in double figures with a double-double of 19.8 points on 54.9 percent shooting with a team-high 11.7 rebounds per game. Fellow senior Darryl Bryant is averaging 14.2 points, while freshman Jabarie Hinds and junior Deniz Kilicli add 11.5 and 11.2 points per game, respectively.
Welcome Back Huggs
Thursday’s game will mark the return of former K-State head coach Bob Huggins to the Sunflower State. Although, he coached just one season - 2006-07 - in Manhattan, he brought back a culture of winning to the Wildcat program, which had not advanced to the postseason nor won 20 games in seven seasons prior to his arrival. The squad tallied a 23-12 record in his lone season, the most wins by the school since winning 25 in a run to the Elite Eight in 1987-88, and helped the Wildcats to a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark. It marked the highest league win total and highest conference finish since that 1987-88 season. The team also advanced to the Postseason NIT, the first postseason of any kind since making the NIT in 1998-99, and knocked off Vermont, 59-57, before losing to DePaul, 70-65, in round two. His 23 wins are still the most by a first-year coach in school history.
This will be the second overall meeting between K-State and West Virginia on the hardwood and the first since the Wildcats earned a 49-44 win in Morgantown, W.Va., on Dec. 12, 1949. The school is 18-25 all-time against teams from the Big East with its last meeting coming against Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 4, 2008. The return of the two-game series is expected to be played at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va., in 2012-13 on a date to be determined.
Student Meets Teacher
It will be the first meeting between Bob Huggins and his former assistant Frank Martin. The two coaches have a long relationship dating back to Martin’s days at Miami (Fla.) Senior High School, where Huggins would recruit while coaching at Cincinnati. Huggins helped Martin break into the college ranks at Northeastern in 2000 before hiring him as an assistant coach at Cincinnati in 2004. Martin was Huggins’ first hire when he came to K-State in 2006, serving as lead assistant during the Wildcats’ 23-win season. Martin is 1-1 in match-ups with longtime friends, losing to Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss, 86-74, on Nov. 20, 2009 at the Puerto Rico Tipoff before knocking off Anthony Grant and Alabama, 87-74, on Dec. 19, 2009 at the Coors Classic in Mobile, Ala.
Up Next: North Florida (5-4)
K-State returns to Bramlage Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 11 when the Wildcats play host to North Florida (5-4) at 1 p.m.
After playing just two games in a 17-day stretch, the Wildcats are in the midst of four games in an 11-day span, including the third in an eight-day period. The stretch began at home on Dec. 1 with a 69-56 win over A-10 foe George Washington, which ran their non-conference winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum to 37 games. It continued Sunday on the road, as the Wildcats gave head coach Frank Martin his 100th career win with a hard-fought 69-61 win against Virginia Tech. Following Thursday’s game, K-State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Sunday, Dec. 11 to host North Florida (4-4) at 1 p.m.
K-State has been solid in the second month of the season under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 22-5 (.808) overall record in December since 2007-08, including a stellar 14-0 mark at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats have also won 22 consecutive games at their home venue in Manhattan in the month with the last loss coming to Rutgers, 76-66, on Dec. 28, 2004. Overall, the team is 34-1 (.971) in December at Bramlage Coliseum the past nine years (2002-10). Thursday’s game will mark the third consecutive season that the Wildcats have played a neutral site game in December, following an 87-74 win over Alabama at the Coors Classic in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 19, 2009 and a 57-44 loss to Florida at the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami on Dec. 18, 2010.
History in Wichita
Kansas State will be playing its first regular-season neutral site game in the city of Wichita since playing in the NCAA Tournament in March 1968. Overall, it will be K-State’s 19th all-time contest in the city, which includes 14 games against Wichita State and four in the NCAA Tournament at Levitt Arena. The last regular season game in Wichita came in a 79-66 win over the hometown Shockers at the Kansas Coliseum on Dec. 7, 2002. The Wildcats are 7-11 in those 18 previous meetings in Wichita, including a 5-9 mark against Wichita State at various arenas. The team is 2-2 in true neutral site games in the city, defeating Texas-El Paso (64-60) and Wichita State (94-86) in the 1964 NCAA Midwest Regional and losing to TCU (77-72) and Louisville (93-63) in the 1968 NCAA Midwest Regional. The game is one of two played by K-State in its two largest media markets, following the regular-season contest at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Wildcats will play Alabama in the Hy-Vee Wildcat Classic on Saturday, Dec. 17.
Away From Home
Kansas State has been solid away from Bramlage Coliseum under head coach Frank Martin, posting a 34-33 (.507) record since 2006-07. The squad is 13-16 (.448) on neutral courts under Martin, including a 6-8 (.429) mark during the regular season. The Wildcats have won just two of their last six neutral site games, including a regular-season 57-44 loss to Florida at the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami. After Sunday’s first ACC road win at Virginia Tech, Martin is 21-17 (.533) in true road games, including 5-1 (.833) in non-conference road contests. The Wildcats have won three straight on the road dating back to last year (including handing No. 7 Texas its lone home loss) and have won four in a row in non-conference action dating back to a 75-70 setback at Oregon on Dec. 7, 2008. Martin’s 21 road victories are all the more impressive considering that K-State won just 24 (against 96 losses) in the previous 11 year from 1996-2007 prior to his arrival. If you take out the six road wins during the Huggins’ era (in which Martin was on staff), you would have to tally all the wins from 1995-2006 to get more than 21 (22 compared to 95 defeats).
Martin Wins 100
Head coach Frank Martin became the fourth K-State head coach to earn his 100th career victory, including the second-fastest, in Sunday’s 69-61 win at Virginia Tech. He joined Naismith Hall of Fame coaches Jack Gardner (147-81, 1939-42, 1946-53) and Fred “Tex” Winter (261-118, 1954-68) and all-time wins leader Jack Hartman (295-169; 1970-86). He is the first to do so since Hartman did it midway through the 1975-76 season. Martin accomplished the feat in just 143 games, which is one shy of the 142 it took Winter to produce his 100th victory midway through the 1958-59 season. Hartman’s 100th win came in 149 games, while Gardner did it in his 170th game in his second stint as head coach in 1950-51. The 2009-10 Big 12 Coach of the Year, Martin is the first Wildcat coach to post a 20-win season in each of his first four years and joined Lon Kruger as the only head coaches in school history 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.
K-State has been solid defensively this season, allowing just 59 points on 33.1 percent shooting (98-of-296), including 25.8 percent (23-of-89) from 3-point range, to go with 41.6 rebounds, 6.2 blocks and 5.4 steals per game. The Wildcats are forcing opponents into 17 turnovers per game and averaging 16.6 points off those miscues. The team ranks among the Top 50 in four defensive categories, including fourth in field goal percentage defense, 15th in blocked shots, 23rd in 3-point field goal percentage and 41st in scoring defense. They are also in Top 5 in the Big 12 seven defensive categories, including first in rebounding and second in field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds. Four players are averaging better than 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior Jordan Henriquez ranks ninth nationally in blocked shots with 3.6 per game.
Second Half Surge
Just five games into the season, it appears that Kansas State should start its games in the second half. The Wildcats are averaging 44.6 points on 54.3 percent shooting (76-of-140) from the field in the second half compared to just 30.6 points on 34.7 percent shooting (51-of-147) in the opening half. The squad has shot better than 50 percent from the field in the second half in four of five games, including a season-best 65.6 percent shooting (21-of-32) with 56 points against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22. This trend continued at Virginia Tech on Sunday, as the Wildcats scored 47 points on 57.7 percent (15-of-26) shooting after opening the game with 22 points on just 27.6 percent shooting (8-of-29). The squad has statistically been a better defensive team in the second half, as foes are averaging 27.4 points on 28.6 percent shooting, including 17.3 percent from 3-point range after halftime compared to 31.6 points on 37.2 percent shooting, including 37.8 percent from beyond the arc, in the first half. There is also a marked difference from first to second half from the free throw line, where the Wildcats are hitting at 72.7 percent after halftime compared to 55.7 percent in the opening half. The team has also reduced their turnovers from eight in the first half to six in the second half.
K-State’s top three scorers - Jamar Samuels, Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder - also are better in the second half with Samuels (9.7 ppg.), Spradling (9.2 ppg.) and McGruder (8.2 ppg.) all averaging better than eight points after halftime. The trio have combined to score 116 of their 158 combined points (73 percent) this season in the second half. In particular, Spradling has tallied 60 of his 71 points after halftime, including all 15 vs. Loyola Chicago on Nov. 14.
Closing On 1500
Kansas State is closing in on a milestone as a program, as the Wildcats are just eight victories shy of 1,500. The school currently stands at 1,492-1,056 (.585) in 108 seasons, which ranks 41st all-time in NCAA Division I history. K-State would become the sixth current Big 12 program (West Virginia already has more than 1,600) to eclipse the milestone, following Kansas (2,041), Texas (1,643), Oklahoma (1,531), Oklahoma State (1,522) and Missouri (1,506). The Cowboys and Tigers earned their 1,500th victories last season. The Wildcats could become the seventh team to top 1,500 wins this season, joining St. Joseph’s (1,502), Ohio State (1,501), Michigan State (1,498), Washington State (1,497), Tennessee (1,491) and Iowa (1,490).
Aside from a 42-point win over Maryland-Eastern on Nov. 22, K-State has already proved to play in close games this season. In the first two games, the Wildcats have had to rally back from a 15-point deficit against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11 then pull away from Loyola Chicago in the second half on Nov. 14 after leading 28-23 at halftime. The 18-point combined margin of victory was the fewest through the first two games since the Wildcats combined for 13 in wins against North Dakota State (70-61) and Denver (60-56) to start the 2004-05 season. Despite the big win, the UMES game was tied 23-all with 6:16 left in the first half before a big run opened the game up. The contest against George Washington on Dec. 1 was again tight with K-State holding a 39-37 edge with 16:11 left before a pivotal 10-0 run broke the game open in a 13-point victory. The Wildcats and Hokies were tied 43-all in the second half before a 10-0 run clinched the victory. The squad was down as many as eight points in the first half.
Points Off Turnovers
A trademark of Frank Martin-coached teams are their ability to score points off of opponent’s mistakes. Since he became head coach in 2007, the Wildcats have scored 2,619 points off of 2,346 turnovers in 143 games - an average of 18.3 points per game. Nearly 25 percent of the points scored in the past five years have come off of offense generated from turnovers, including the current season, in which the team has outscored its foes, 83-61. This was no more evident in the win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22, as the Wildcats converted 18 miscues into a 26-3 edge in points off turnovers. The squad is pressuring its foes into an average of 17 turnovers per game, including a season-high 22 by Charleston Southern in the season opener.
Impressive Night on the Boards
K-State had quite the effective game on the boards against George Washington on Dec. 1, totaling a season-high 50 on the night, including 33 on the defensive end. Three Wildcats registered double-digit rebounds, including a season-best 13 by freshman Thomas Gipson, a career-best 11 by junior Jordan Henriquez and 10 by senior Jamar Samuels. Gipson had his first double-double (and first by a Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley had one against Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament) against the Colonials with a team-high 17 points, while Samuels recorded his sixth career double-double with 10 points. It marked the first time in more than 11 years that three players tallied double-figure rebounds with two having double-doubles. The last time came in an overtime win over Tennessee State on Nov. 28, 2000 when three players - Kelvin Howell (11 points, 14 rebounds), Larry Reid (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Travis Reynolds (14 points and 14 rebounds) - registered double-doubles.
Quite the Run
After playing two close games to start the season, K-State finally was able to coast to a 42-point victory against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22. However, it was a close contest between the teams in the first half with the score knotted at 23-all with 6:16 remaining and just a 36-29 lead for the Wildcats at the break. From this last tie at 6:16 mark of the first half, the squad used quite the run - 69-27 - between the halves to gain the big victory. During this run, K-State connected on 61 percent (25-of-41) from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from 3-point range, and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line, while holding UMES to 23.5 percent (8-of-34) from the field, including 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from long range, and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line. In the second half alone, the Wildcats shot 65.6 percent (21-of-32) from the field.
K-State opened the season on Nov. 11 with a come-from-behind victory over Charleston Southern, 72-67, before a sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum. Down as many as 15 points in the second half, the Wildcats used a 19-4 run over an 11-minute span early in the half to tie it at 60-all at the 4:35 mark before taking over the lead for good with 2:24 left. The 15-point deficit overcome for victory (52-37) was one of the biggest in recent history for K-State, as it ties for fifth currently behind a pair of 17-point deficits in wins against Bradley (47-30) on Nov. 25, 1995 and California (38-21) on Dec. 29, 1995 and two 16-point deficits in wins against LaSalle (57-41) on Jan. 5, 1994 and New Mexico (30-14) on Nov. 23, 2005. The 14-point deficit at halftime (49-35) ties for the largest overcome for victory since a 98-90 overtime win against Arizona State on Nov. 24, 1998 at the Maui Invitational. It was also the largest deficit overcome at home since the 1995-96 season behind the Bradley game on Nov. 25, 1995.
No Senior Starter
The starting line-up of juniors Martavious Irving, Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez, sophomore Will Spradling and freshman Thomas Gipson against Charleston Southern on Nov. 11 was unique in that it marked the first time since 1983-84 that K-State opened a season without a senior starter. It marked the first career starts for Irving and Gipson, while only McGruder was a starter in last season’s opening win over James Madison on Nov. 12, 2010. Including the UMES game on Nov. 22, McGruder has now started 37 consecutive games dating back to that JMU contest, while Spradling now has nine starts to his credit. Gipson joined a special group by becoming the first true freshman to start an opener since three rookies - Ron Anderson, Michael Beasley and Jacob Pullen - earned the starting nod against Sacramento State on Nov. 9, 2007.
Samuels Named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Senior Jamar Samuels was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week Monday after averaging a double-double in wins over George Washington and Virginia Tech last week. Samuels, who earned the weekly honor for the first time in his career, helped the Wildcats move to 5-0 for the first time since 2008-09 with wins over the Colonials and the Hokies. He averaged 13.5 points on 64.7 percent shooting (11-of-17), including 50 percent (1-of-2) from 3-point range, in the two wins with 12.0 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per game. He recorded double-doubles in each contest, marking the first time in his career he has done that in back-to-back games, and raised his career total to seven. He began the week with a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the win over George Washington. Playing in front of numerous friends and family from nearly Washington, D.C., in the Wildcats’ first road game, he was sensational in the clutch against Virginia Tech. He snagged a game-high 17 points on 7-of-8 field goals to go with a career-tying 14 rebounds in 28 minutes. After struggling in the first half due to foul problems, he registered a double-double in the second half alone with 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 13 rebounds. Samuels is nearing a milestone, as he is just two points away from becoming the 23rd player in school history and third under Frank Martin to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier.
Samuels had to sit out the exhibition and the first two games of the season due to violations of team rules, making his debut against Maryland-Eastern Shore with 12 points on Nov. 22. Through three games, he is averaging a team-best 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game, including three consecutive double-figure scoring games. The 2009-10 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, Samuels’ experience will be big asset to a youthful squad having played in 106 games in his career with 27 starts. He is averaging 9.4 points on 48.9 percent shooting in those games with 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.
True freshman Thomas Gipson has made quite the impact just a few games into the 2011-12 campaign. A 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward, he ranks in the top-2 in both scoring (12.0 ppg., second) and rebounding (7.0 rpg., third), while connecting on 51.1 percent (23-of-45) from the field in five starts. He has been even better in the last four games, leading the team in scoring against Loyola Chicago (19), Maryland-Eastern Shore (13) and George Washington (17), while averaging 14.5 points on 52.4 percent (22-of-42) shooting with 8.8 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game. Against George Washington, Gipson became the first freshman since Michael Beasley in 2007-08 to collect a double-double with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 13 rebounds. He came close to the feat one game earlier against UMES with 13 points (on 5-of-8 field goals) with nine rebounds. After struggling in the season opener with Charleston Southern (two points, zero rebounds), he broke out against Loyola Chicago on Nov. 14, recording a season-best 19 points to go with seven rebounds (including a 12-point, 6-rebound effort in second half). Although he struggled statistically, he still became the first true freshman to start an opener since the three rookies - Ron Anderson, Beasley and Jacob Pullen - earned the starting nod against Sacramento State on Nov. 9, 2007.
Coming Through in the Clutch
Sophomore Will Spradling has solidified the starting point guard spot so far this season, averaging 12.0 points on 39.8 percent shooting with 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in five starts. He has registered double figures in three of the five games, including 15 each against Charleston Southern and Loyola Chicago. His 15-point outings were just two points short of his career-high of 17 against Baylor on Jan. 24, 2011. Following his 14-point effort against George Washington, the Wildcats are now a solid 9-1 when he scores in double figures. Spradling has also come through in the clutch, scoring 46 of his 60 points this season in the second half, including all 15 against Loyola. He is averaging 9.2 points on 40.7 percent shooting after halftime compared to just 2.8 points on 38.5 percent shooting in the first half. He has also converted on 18-of-21 free throws in the second half, while nine of his 11 assists have come after the break. He has also continued to demonstrate his toughness by taking 11 charges, including three each in three games. He ranks second behind only Jamar Samuels (33) in charges taken with 32 in 39 career games.
Ojeleye to Serve as Big 12 SAAC Vice-Chair in 2011-12
Senior Victor Ojeleye was recently elected by his peers to serve as Vice-Chair of the Big 12’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 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 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.
K-State Announces the Additions of Chatkevicius, Upshaw
K-State elevated the talent of its front court on Nov. 21, as coach Frank Martin announced the additions of high school standouts Laimonas Chatkevicius (pronounced Lie-MOAN-us Shh-CAVE-VEE-us; Klaipeda, Lithuania/South Kent [Conn.] Prep) and Robert Upshaw (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial) for the 2012-13 season.
“Once again our assistants, as they have done every year since we have been here, did an unbelievable job of identifying the right people for our program and organizing the recruitment and being diligent in their efforts to land two guys that we had targeted since the summer,” said Martin. “We are extremely excited about two guys that were right at the top of our list.”
A 7-foot, 275-pound center, Upshaw is rated among the Top 50 high school players for the Class of 2012, including a ranking of No. 43 on the Rivals150 by Rivals.com and No. 49 on the ESPNU100. He is also ranked among the Top 50 by CBSSports.com (40) and MaxPreps.com (44). In addition, he is regarded as one of the top centers in the nation, ranking eighth at the position nationally by Rivals.com and 10th by ESPN. Upshaw is also rated the fourth-best high school prospect in the state of California by ESPN.
Upshaw is a rising senior for head coach Pat Geil at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, Calif., which also produced 7-foot twins Brook (New Jersey Nets) and Robin Lopez (Phoenix Suns) as well as guard Quincy Pondexter (New Orleans Hornets). He did not play as a junior in 2010-11 due to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) transfer rules after leaving Edison High School for Memorial. Upshaw helped Edison win 41 games as a freshman and sophomore, including 25 victories in 2008-09.
A 6-foot-10, 230-pound center, Chatkevicius is currently playing his senior season at South Kent Prep Academy in South Kent, Conn., for head coach Kelvin Jefferson. South Kent played their first games this past weekend against La Jolla and St. John’s Military at the National Prep School Invitational in New Haven, Conn.
A native of Klaipeda, Lithuania, Chatkevicius came to the U.S. in the summer of 2009 to experience high school basketball before playing his junior season in his native country. He also played as a member of Kansas City’s Spiece MoKan AAU organization this past summer for head coach Matt Suther. Chatkevicius played in three games for Lithuania during the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championships in Hamberg, Germany. The Lithuanian team posted a 4-1 record and finished in the tournament behind champion Team USA and Poland. The squad also finished second in Group A to Team USA. He played 15 minutes in the 102-66 loss to Team USA on July 3, finishing with two points and three rebounds. He also played his club team Klaipedos SM as both a sophomore and junior in Lithuania. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in four games in 2009-10 and 3.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in four games in 2010-11.
‘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. 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).
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. Of note, coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.
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).