Wroblewski's Game to Remember
"I think we won 91-72 (ed. note - 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 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 story-line of the game, "Late in the game and we had it won, I was sitting on the bench just happy to be resting. Then 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 points 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, 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 career - 1959-60 through 1961-62 - with a 10.7 career scoring average, which included a 19.0 average as a senior when he earned first-team all-Big 8 Conference 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 feet and 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 8 titles in 1960 and 1961, and a second place finish in 1962. In those three years, K-State won 35 Big 8 games under the coaching of Tex 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., where a friend of Winter's told him about "... this 6-8 kid from South Bend that could play a little." The two talked on the phone, Wroblewski visited the K-State campus, and not only did the Wildcats land a big man, but also a tag-along.
"Pat McKenzie was my high school teammate and I talked Tex into giving him a scholarship," Wroblewski said of the 6-5 McKenzie, who went on to be a two-year starter for K-State. "We had a high school coach that was a football coach that was told to coach basketball, so we flew pretty much under the radar as far as being high-profile recruits."
Laughing, Wroblewski said, "I grew up wanting to go see the world and that just happened to start in Manhattan, Kansas."
As for playing in K-State's Ahearn Field House, Wroblewski admitted that his lasting memory is different than most.
"I remember Ahearn being loaded with people and looking to the end of the building where the flag hung and the singing of the national anthem," said Wroblewski. "I remember the hair on the back of my neck sticking up during that time every night that we played.
"I do remember my senior year we didn't lose a game in Ahearn," said Wroblewski, who had a 30-2 home court record during his career. "But honestly, I had some of my better games away from home. I liked it when the fans were screaming at me. That invigorated me. It really did."
Wroblewski played his senior season with a severe back injury that would result in surgery at the end of the season, which for all practical purposes ended his professional career before it started. He had been a fifth-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Royals and a draft pick of the Kansas City Bulls of the American Basketball Association.
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.