January 29, 2008

Martin's Cats not backing off big words

The word 'guarantee' teeters on the edge of profanity in the world of sports, but that hasn't stopped Kansas State head coach Frank Martin and members of his team from using the G-word almost recklessly this season. Promises of a win over Kansas, a team K-State has not defeated in Manhattan since January of 1983, have indeed been many, but not just days remain until the Wildcats will partake in a fowl-filled feast. Whether the menu for that meal will feature Jayhawk or crow is still up in the air however.

The war of words began back in August, months before either team had even stepped foot on the court, but the opening shot of the 2008 installment of the rivalry between K-State and Kansas can still be heard today, less than 48 hours prior to the schools' all-important showdown in the Little Apple.

"We're gonna beat KU at home. We're gonna to beat 'em in their house. We're gonna beat 'em in Africa. Wherever we play, we're gonna beat 'em," K-State freshman Michael Beasley so famously declared at a K-State alumni event in the fall, tossing the season's first dose of gasoline on the blazing fire that fuels the Sunflower Showdown.

While it certainly garnered the most attention, Beasley's guarantee was just the first of three to come soaring out of the Wildcats' camp. Martin promised fans that this season would bring an end to Kansas' 24-game Manhattan winning streak in a speech at K-State's annual Madness in Manhattan event, and just weeks later, redshirt freshman Bill Walker got in on the action during an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

"I'm pretty sure we'll win," he told the publication. "I'll predict it. I'm not scared to say it. I'm a man. I can live up to my words. I'm saying we'll beat them … both places."

Now, promising victory over a team your school has defeated just once in the last 13 years has a tendency to come across as brash, but when said team is undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country, statements like Beasley's and Walker's are nothing short of insane.

Or are they?

"Kansas is as good as it gets," Martin said of the very same school he promised fans a win over before the start of the season. "Mike said what he felt in his heart. It's what he believes. He didn't come here to lose to Kansas. If he would line up and say 'I don't know. We're going to try to beat them. I don't know if we're good enough,' then he wouldn't be on this team. I'd ask him to leave."

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