March 4, 2008

Seniors ready to stay off NCAA bubble

It's human nature to be scared of the unknown, and there isn't a more uncertain location in the sports universe than the NCAA Tournament bubble. It's a place as indeterminate as it is lonely, as unfixed as it is cold, and most importantly it's a place to which K-State seniors Clent Stewart and Blake Young never wish to return. You see, one trip was more enough for the two Wildcat seniors, who will play their final game at Bramlage Coliseum tonight, and this year, they've sworn against a return visit to every college basketball player's most feared destination.

The shrapnel from the busting bubble that hit Stewart and his teammates at the end of last season, combined with the team's current struggles, was enough to push the usually-mild mannered point guard into a unconventional move Monday, when the Oklahoma native came forward with an almost Michael Beasley-like guarantee.

"We won't fail," Stewart said. "We're not going to fail this time. To be so close … I mean, we felt like we had the opportunity last year. This year, everybody is saying, 'You guys are in as long as you take care of your business.' We're not going to fail. I won't let us. We're going to go get the job done this time."

But in order for Stewart to make good on his promise, the losing needs to stop now.

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, K-State will take the court with an 11-17 Colorado team that could not have appeared of the Wildcats' schedule at a better time. While it would be inappropriate to call any team in the Big 12 a "slump buster," the Buffaloes might be the closest to it. Even still, don't expect the K-State seniors, who will be honored at the game along with David Hoskins and walk-on James Franklin, to overlook anybody during their last game in the Little Apple.

It takes just a few seconds of speaking to them to understand Stewart and Young are taking the final stretch of the 2007-08 season personally, and the tandem is doing everything in their power to make the younger players around them do the same. Though they may be close, the Wildcats aren't on that dreaded bubble just yet, and the team's most prevalent senior duo is making sure staying off it is their team's only priority.

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