By: Matt Blanchette
Let me preface this by saying, I followed the K-State basketball team in great depth last season. As many of your know, and for those that don't, in TV broadcasting, we are often spread thin between all our local colleges, high schools and professional teams, and more, so we do not get to spend as much time focusing on just one, as a beat reporter would.
In many ways, this is really rewarding and fun, but you also miss out on some information at times. That being said, I was around last year's KSU Hoops team as much as any one team I have covered.
This is not that team. The faces are familiar, the style similar, but it is really a different team. Only two starters are back: Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly, and neither played much at all on Tuesday against #21 Virginia Tech, which figured to be at least an NCAA contender, if not more.
Even without the two starters, K-State was able to impose its will on the Hokies, playing the same demanding, physical style of basketball; rebounding and winning 50/50 balls (which infuriated Va Tech coach Seth Greenberg, by the way). The Wildcats are not as flashy as the folks in Lawrence, but they play a winning style of basketball, which they proved last March.
I was not sure that the newbies like Martavious Irving, Nick Russell, Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder would be able to do the same things as last year’s crew. Well I am more confident now. Granted, Va Tech got into major foul trouble and did not play its entire cast, but the subs were able to really grind the Hokies down, the was Frank Martin has taught them.
So, the ball is in Martin’s court. He has a new cast of characters and it will be up to his coaching to take this team to where many think it can go. We all know he is a master motivator, but now we will get to see his coaching chops. If Tuesday is any indication, we (I) could be in for another wild ride with the Wildcats.