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Sitting Down With the Enemy: Bring on the Cats

TB, the proprietor of the Good Ship BringOnTheCats decided to help continue the trend of helping find material for the blog without me having to put in a lot of work...

Simply put, what has Frank Martin done this year to prove he can coach?

If you had asked that question before the Oklahoma game, I would have said "not much."  But I think our first three conference games showed that the issue was not Martin's coaching ability, but rather our players buying into his system and then actually focusing well enough to execute it.  Earlier in the year, there was no semblance of an offense, just a bunch of guys either trying to get their own shot or throwing it (away) to Michael Beasley.  Now we get shots out of a system, and our shooting percentage reflects that.

The moment that Martin really impressed me was in the game against Texas A&M, when Beasley picked up his second foul only two minutes into the game.  Earlier in the year, Martin would have planted him on the bench until the scoreboard, under half, read "2".  Instead, he did an offense-for-defense substitution pattern with Beasley and Darren Kent, kept Beasley out of foul trouble, and got him enough playing time to score eight points in the first half.

With Michael Beasley becoming the new go-to guy, how has this affected the roles of guys such as Bill Walker?

Certainly Bill Walker isn't the focal point, but even in high school Walker played second fiddle to O.J. Mayo.  He's used to being a star, but knowing he has a role to fill.  With the focus on Beasley and Walker's move to the four position, Walker has really turned a corner.  If he's got a big guy on him, he takes him outside.  If it's a little guy, he posts up.  His crossover is still as wicked as ever and now he can actually make a shot from the three-point line.

How much does the loss of Hoskins hurt?

I can't even put it into words.  It's huge.  If we have David Hoskins in the lineup, healthy, all year long, there is a good chance we're 15-2 right now.  There are two things about Hoskins that we miss.  First, he's an awkward matchup for opposing teams, being a really big guard or a really small and athletic forward.  Second, he's fearless and is the leader of the team, vocally and otherwise.  Some of our guys are a little gun-shy about going into the lane and drawing contact.  Hoskins goes in there and forces contact, as his high number of free throws last year attests.  And when he's around, there's no BS, because he's big and strong and leads by example.  He scares the other guys into staying in line.

Who's the guy we need to worry about that we don't know about? Any strong bench players?

 Outside of Beasley and Walker, it's pretty unlikely that anybody will really light it up.  The last two games, Blake Young has played really well, playing tough defense and hustling to loose balls.  On the defensive end, keep your eye on him, especially considering he may match up with Wesley Johnson and try to frustrate him.

Offensively, freshman point guard Jacob Pullen is always a threat to go off.  He's streaky, but when he gets a look from deep he can knock it down, and he's got a great first step and can finish with a little teardrop or find an open teammate when the help comes.

Does the state of Kansas really like big midcourt logos?

Haha, yeah apparently.  That team down the river got that obnoxiously large mythical bird several years ago, and I guess our athletic department decided we should show off our (obviously superior) logo.  I would kind of like to see the logo toned down a little bit, but it needs to at least be bigger than that puny little "N" that Nebraska has on its court.  I have to get my magnifying glass out to tell what that is.

Prediction?

 If the team we have seen the first three conference games shows up, I think K-State will win somewhat comfortably.  My biggest fear with this team is complacency, as they have a tendency to start thinking they are really good and don't need to work within the system.  On top of that, apparently there's a big game coming up for us next Wednesday, although I haven't looked that far ahead on the schedule.  I hope our players haven't, either, because Iowa State is our only concern right now.  All that for me to say: K-State 81, Iowa State 65