With Frank Martin heading to South Carolina, Kansas State Athletic Director John Currie has to make a hire to keep the K-State basketball program moving in the right direction. According to Currie, the coaching search is already underway. Here are a few likely candidates to replace Frank Martin as Head Coach of Kansas State University.
1. Tad Boyle- Head Coach, Colorado
A former basketball player at KU, Boyle is familiar with the Big 12 and Kansas landscape. Boyle has spent the last two seasons as the Head Coach at Colorado, leading the Buffs to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament this past year after winning the PAC 12 postseason tournament. Boyle will make a little north of $600,000 this coming year at Colorado, incentives included. Kansas State could make a very lucrative offer that would very possibly triple that. Most feel that Boyle is waiting for the KU job to open. But seeing that Bill Self may be at KU for a long time, Boyle may be intrigued if K-State offers. This would be a great hire if Currie could pull it off.
2. Brad Underwood- Associate Head Coach, Kansas State
A former player at K-State under Jack Hartman, Underwood is a K-State guy. Brad has spent the last 5 seasons as an assistant under Frank Martin. Many feel that Underwood would keep the current team together. However, the lack of head coaching experience may keep Underwood from getting the job.
3. Steve Alford- Head Coach, New Mexico
The former Mr. Basketball in Indiana and possibly the best player of the Bob Knight era at IU has built a very good program together at New Mexico after failing at Iowa. Alford is a good X’s and O’s coach who has played the game before. The one drawback is that he has somewhat of the same antics that Frank Martin had during his tenure at K-State. That could hold John Currie back.
4. Steve Henson- Assistant Coach, Oklahoma
Another former K-State star, the McPherson native has spent the past decade or so as an assistant under Lon Kruger. According to Rob Cassidy of gopowercat.com, Henson has already reached out to John Currie to express interest in the job. Earlier today, Henson said, “K-State is a dream job for me, it’s home. It’s my alma mater. There are so many ties and connections. It’s a great place, a great town, a great university. I’d love a shot at it for so many reasons.” As with Underwood, Henson’s lack of head coaching experience may be a drawback.
My Take: I think that a $25 million practice facility being built makes Kansas State a much more lucrative job than it was 6 years ago when Bob Huggins was hired. Money will not be an issue here, Kansas State has plenty of money to spend on a coach. I think the first option should be Boyle. If they can’t get him, move on and find the right candidate. John Currie cannot mess this up. If he does and Kansas State goes back to the mediocre days of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, then he may be looking for a new job.
Prediction: I think Kansas State will offer Tad Boyle a contact he can’t refuse and name Boyle as its next head coach.
Going into the 2011-2012 season, no one was expecting much from K-State. I mean, how could you? They lost the most prolific scorer in school history in Jacob Pullen along with their best down low player in Curtis Kelly. They returned veteran Jamar Samuels and sharp shooter Rodney McGruder, but that was about it. It wasn’t enough to get the Wildcats a top 6 preseason Big 12 ranking despite the fact that Kansas State had finished every year under Frank Martin in the top 4 of the Big 12. Will Spradling was going to have to become a 30-35 minute a game player. Jordan Henriquez was going to have to ease into the starting position. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Kansas State was supposed to be an NIT team at best. No one gave the Cats a shot to make the NCAA tourney headed into the year. Someone forgot to tell Frank Martin. Led by Rodney McGruder’s stellar year, as well as Jamar Samuels taking charge and being the senior leader late in the year, Kansas State rattled off a 21-9 (10-8) regular season. That was good for fifth place in the Big 12. The highlight of the regular season were the two wins over top 5 ranked Missouri. It has been a tough season at times, with two losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State, but K-State always seemed to bounce back.
Heading into the Big 12 tournament, the Cats are looking at most likely an 8 or 9 seed in the Big Dance. However, wins over Baylor and Kansas could very well change that. If K-State pulls off a run in Kansas City and makes it to the finals, expect the Cats to earn a 6 seed or possibly 5 come Selection Sunday. It has been awesome to watch Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels lead this team. The late season emergence of freshman guard Angel Rodriguez has been a pleasant surprise, and if K-State wants to make a deep run in March, they will need Will Spradling to get back to shooting the way he did earlier in the season. Kansas State’s depth could cause some teams trouble in the Big Dance. They are one of few teams that can go 5 men deep into the bench and not have to worry about it. Martavious Irving, Thomas Gipson and Shane Southwell have all been starters at some point during their K-State careers. Overall, I would consider the regular season a success for the Cats. However, as we all know, there is much more basketball to be played. If Kansas State plays in Kansas City the way they have the past couple weeks, some teams better be aware of this dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament.
I see K-State as a team that, depending on the match up, could get bounced in the 1st round, or make a deep run in the tourney. If Kansas State gets past Baylor and KU this week in Kansas City, some teams are going to fear having to face the Wildcats in the NCAA’s. I think they will be overlooked and people will pick them to be gone after the first weekend, just don’t tell Frank Martin that.
When taking a step back from the battle that happened, I am going to review how Kansas State stole the game in Columbia. This game was crucial not only for bragging rights but for seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Going into tonight’s game in Columbia, I knew if K-State stood any chance against Missouri, they were going to have to do two things, pressure them on defense, and utilize their loaded front court against the Tigers by getting points in the paint. They did both. In the end, it was the Wildcats that prevailed for the second time this season, 78-68.
Kansas State is the first team this season to hand the number 3 ranked Tigers a loss on their home floor. Led by Rodney McGruder’s 24 points, Kansas State scored their second consecutive road win against a top 10 team. McGruder was able to get wherever he wanted the entire game. He split the zone and got open for numerous easy jumpers. As mentioned before, K-State really used their big front line to their advantage. Jamar Samuels was able to score inside and step out and hit the three, which is something he has done well over the past three games. Thomas Gipson seemed unstoppable at times with that jump hook over Kim English. K-State is getting hot at a time that it does every year under Frank Martin, February. If they want to make a run in the NCAA tournament, they need to stick to the game plan that has won them two straight road games against top 10 teams. as for Missouri, this is a disappointing loss that puts them 1 game behind KU in the Big 12 standings going into Saturday’s showdown in Lawrence.
Overall, this game is a big stepping stone for K-State, two games ago, they were on the bubble worrying about whether they would make the NCAA tournament, and a week later, they have all but secured their spot in March Madness. It will be interesting to see what seed the Cats can clinch if they win out for the regular season. Up next for Kansas State is Iowa State on the 25th.
This Tuesday, the 3rd ranked Missouri Tigers will host the Kansas State Wildcats at Mizzou Arena in each team’s 15th conference game of the season. Missouri enters the game coming off a solid 9-point road win in College Station against the Texas A&M Aggies. The Tigers come in with an overall record of 25-2 and a mark of 12-2 in conference play, which is good for a tie at the top of the conference with the rival Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas State comes into the contest off an impressive 1-point victory over the Baylor Bears down in Waco this past Saturday. The Wildcats are 18-8 overall, and an even 7-7 in Big 12 play, currently good for 5th place in the conference. Kansas State, one of only two teams to beat Missouri all year, looks to complete the season sweep of the Tigers for the first time since the 2006-2007 season.
Backcourt advantage: Missouri
The Tigers arguably have the best backcourt in the nation, as they lead the country in offensive efficiency and are 2nd in the nation in field goal percentage at 50.3 percent. Look for Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon, and Marcus Denmon to feed off the energy of the crowd at Mizzou Arena and force Kansas State’s young guards into turnovers. On average, Missouri forces an impressive 15 turnovers a game at Mizzou Arena during conference play.
Frontcourt advantage: Kansas State
Kansas State definitely has the advantage here, as they can throw a plethora of bodies at Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore down low. Look for Jamar Samuels, Thomas Gipson, and the seven-footer Jordan Henriquez to flourish on the glass Tuesday night. Ricardo Ratliffe should get his points, but Missouri is going to need quality minutes from Steve Moore. Kansas State dominated Missouri in the rebounding category back on January 7th, out-rebounding the Tigers 37-22 en route to a 75-59 victory in Manhattan. Expect Kansas State to have a similar advantage on the glass, but not by such a wide margin.
While Missouri isn’t very deep at all off the bench, they arguably have the best sixth man in the nation in Lee’s Summit West product Michael Dixon. K-State’s bench hasn’t been all that productive, but at least they have more than 7 players that can come in the game and play effective minutes unlike the Tigers who can only turn to Dixon and Steve Moore off the bench.
Tuesday’s contest is being played in Columbia, where Missouri has yet to lose a game this season. While Kansas State is coming off an energizing victory over Baylor, the Tigers and their fans can almost taste a Big 12 title. Missouri needs this game desperately to keep their Big 12 Championship aspirations alive. And don’t think that 75-59 trouncing of the Tigers in Manhattan back on January 7th isn’t on their minds when they take the court for this one Tuesday night. The revenge factor will be a big part of this game for Missouri.
Missouri hasn’t lost a game at Mizzou Arena this season. Don’t expect that to change Tuesday night.
This Saturday, Frank Martin and the Kansas State Wildcats head to the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas to face the Baylor Bears. Kansas State is just coming off a home loss to in-state rival Kansas. At .500 in Big 12 play, Kansas State desperately needs this win for their NCAA Tournament hopes. A win in the road against a top 15 team would be a great on their resume. Here is how I see the game playing out.
Backcourt: Kansas State’s Will Spradling had a decent game against KU, but that was about it for K-State’s backcourt. Freshman guard Angel Rodriguez struggled mightily and the other guards were non factors. Baylor’s versatile Pierre Jackson and sharp shooter Brady Heslip get a huge advantage here.
Frontcourt: K-State senior Jamar Samuels had a big game on Monday against KU, despite losing the game, K-State had a bright spot in seeing Jamar being able to do well underneath the basket as well as being able to step out and hit the three. However, Baylor has one of the best frontcourts in the conference. Led by all Big 12 candidate Perry Jones III. Expect Perry and Quincy Miller to have a big day inside.
Bench: Kansas State does have a deep bench, but it seems lately as if no one wants to step up and lead the team. Baylor has a solid bench, and due to their production and KSU’s lack of production, I’ll give Baylor the edge
Intangibles: The game is being played in Waco, and Baylor won the only previous meeting this year which was in Manhattan. Baylor won that game by two points. KSU needs this game badly. So even though it’s at Baylor, K-State is out to prove that Baylor’s win in Manhattan was a fluke. Small edge to the Cats here
Prediction: I think the Wildcats are out to prove something in this game. Even though they need this game before a tough road test at Mizzou, I don’t see them being able to out play the Bears in Waco.
Baylor 75 K-State 64
Led by Junior guard Rodney McGruder’s career high 33 points, Kansas State knocked off the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday night 84-80. Kansas State came right out of the gate and grabbed a decent lead on Texas. They kept a one digit lead for most of the game. Kansas State led by double digits at times. But it seemed Texas always made a run to close the gap. K-State’s Rodney McGruder was on fire. He scored a career high 33 points on 11-17 shooting and 4-6 behind the arch. McGruder seemed very comfortable attacking the lane and setting up for wide open three pointers.
Things got interesting when down by 7 with 1:14 to go, J’Covan Brown hit a three to cut the lead to 4. K-State promtly missed 2 free throws. Texas got as close as 1 point away due to lousy free throw shooting by usually reliable Kansas State guards Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder. Texas had the chance to tie or win the game while having the ball with about 10 seconds left. However, a big steal by Martavious Irving led to a dunk at the other end by Rodney McGruder, putting the final touches on a must win game for the Wildcats. J’Covan Brown scored 22 points, shooting 8-28 from the field and 4-14 from 3 point range. Kansas State played exceptionally well on offense but there is still room for improvement on defense. One area they must work on is free throw shooting, which almost cost them the game. Although they are basically out of the Big 12 race, the win helps Kansas State keep their hopes alive for their sixth consecutive top 4 finish in the Big 12.
– After spending the past week in Frank Martin’s doghouse, freshman guard Angel Rodriguez got his first start of the season.
– Freshman forward Thomas Gipson got his first start since the January 4th loss at Kansas
– Junior guard Jeremy Jones came into the game in the second half to a loud ovation after injuring his ankle last Saturday in a breakout game at Oklahoma
– There were many questionable calls the the officiating crew, who heard it all night from the K-State fans
– Rodney McGruder is the fifth K-State player under Frank Martin to score 30 or more points twice in a season. Joining elite company with Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, Denis Clemente, and Jacob Pullen