SE: Immaturity Biggest Concern for Martin

Dec. 30, 2011

By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra

Frank Martin’s word for the day is immaturity.

No, Martin says, “We don’t have a bunch of guys in the locker room playing marbles,” but he does say, “I’m talking about focusing in on the important things and paying attention to detail. The challenge for this team is we have a pretty good group of guys, but it’s an immaturity nature that leads to our lack of focus. That’s when we tend to struggle.”

Heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Howard at Bramlage Coliseum, Martin says that positive steps were taken in Hawai’i, but he wants that to continue with the Big 12 season beginning on Wednesday, at the University of Kansas.

Coming out of a three-game sweep in Hawai’i over Southern Illinois, UTEP and Long Beach State, Martin said, “We found out if we play as a whole and pay attention to detail and not get wrapped up in the emotions of the game, we have a chance to be a pretty good team. We’re a work in progress, but we have a chance to be a good team if we do things the right way.”

Currently, Martin said that no one plays with any more maturity than junior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Will Spradling.

“Those are two you can take to the bank every day,” said Martin. “They have a willingness to prepare every minute of every day. Jamar (Samuels) is getting better at it, but he still has a ways to go. Will and Rodney may make a negative play, but it doesn’t affect their next play.”

Kansas State rolls into the Howard game riding a five-game winning streak, and with a 10-1 record the Wildcats are ranked No. 25 in the weekly USA Today Coaches Poll.

To that, Martin says, “What success does is give your team confidence. Winning games is the reward for all of the sacrifices you put in during the summer, in the weight room, in study hall, etc. Winning makes every one more comfortable and it makes it more difficult for a negative voice to stand up and speak.”

Using a Godfather theme, Martin continued, “The fight always starts from within. You have to build a foundation of trust and honesty to get to a point where you rely on each other so nothing breaks down.”

He added, “If you take care of the inside, you don’t worry about the outside. If you worry about the outside, the inside is never any good.”

PLAYING HOWARD: As much as Martin is worried about Howard, the Wildcat coach is just as concerned about the continued adjustment to the four-hour time zone change after playing in Hawai’i last week.

And, with games against Kansas, Missouri and Baylor looming ahead to open the Big 12 season, he adds that looking past a program like Howard can be a concern: “Winning games in hard. The second you take winning for granted, then you’ll get beat. This isn’t like your favorite CD where you can hit rewind and listen to your favorite song again. You get one time to play your song and you need to play it to the best of your ability. You need a focus and commitment to take advantage of every day.”

BIG 12 SEASON BEGINS NEXT WEEK: Lost in the hoopla of the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 6, is the fact that on Wednesday, K-State opens Big 12 play against Kansas in Lawrence, followed by dates with the Missouri Tigers and Baylor Bears to open Big 12 play.

Those three teams happen to sport records of 8-3, 12-0 and 13-0, respectively, and are ranked No. 17, No. 8 and No. 6 in the nation. While no one is raving about the Big 12 Conference this year, Martin says it’s because Texas and Kansas each already have three loses.

“The perception of this league from the first day I arrived is focused on those two programs,” said Martin. “When those two teams are undefeated, then the Big 12 is real good. But when you play the schedule they play, there’s a chance they are not going to be undefeated, so people say our league is not as good as it has been. Texas and Kansas are real good, and Missouri and Baylor have the records they do because of all their upperclassmen.”

MCGRUDER WINS WEEKLY HONOR: For his MVP performance at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, junior Rodney McGruder was named the Big 12’s Player of the Week.

McGruder averaged 15.0 points on 64 percent shooting for the three games, which included 44 percent from 3-point range. He also snared 6.0 rebounds in his 24 minutes of play. McGruder was at his best in the title game when he netted a career-high of 28 points on 10-of-11 shooting.

Only Joe Wright (11-of-11 vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 23, 1985) and Eddie Elder (11-of-11 vs. Colorado on Feb. 23, 1985) had a better field goal percentage in a game in school history when attempting more than 10 shots.

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