November 25, 2008

Martin's Cats clamp down on Oakland

Those waiting for Kansas State's basketball program to collapse without Michael Beasley will have to wait a little longer. K-State head coach Frank Martin has been preaching it from the get-go: if his team is to be successful in 2008, balance will be crucial. So far, so good.

It may have been Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, who combined for 45 points, leading the Wildcats' 83-64 pummeling of Oakland on Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum, but the balance Martin is seeking is still very much alive and well.

"It's who we need to be as a basketball team," Martin said. "We played against a zone team. Against zones, you have to have good ball movement and your big guys need to be patient."

Tuesday's win, K-State's fifth of the season, saw Pullen, Clemente and Luis Colon score in double figures. Sure Pullen and Clemente have become the usual scoring suspects, but recently, every contest seems to end with at least one unexpected name jumping off the score sheet.

Eight different Wildcats have scored 10 or more points in one game or another, and everyone, including the five different players averaging double figures for Martin this season, are pitching in to help silence critics who expected this season to bring a return to mediocrity in Manhattan.

"I would go home and people would always say, 'Ya'll are screwed this year. Ya'll don't have Mike (Beasley) and Bill (Walker). What are you going to do?' I guess, when we played on ESPN last year, Mike and Bill were the only two players out there," Pullen said. "That really made us work hard. … Once they left, everybody here knew we had to pick up the slack."

Then, there's the fact that 24 of K-State's 28 field goals on Tuesday came off of assists.

Balance indeed.

"Assist numbers up usually means good ball movement," Martin said. "It means the ball doesn't stand. It's one thing we try to emphasize in practice

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