Yesterday, Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated posted his "Buy, Sell, or Hold" for college basketball right now. The basic idea is to look at a team's position right now, pretend it is a stock in the market, and then decide whether it would be wise to buy it, sell it, or hold it right now based on how it will likely perform in the future.
Here's what Davis has to say about our Wildcats:
Kansas State: SELL
I realize the Wildcats have a 9-4 record and are unranked, but I'd guess there are still some people out there who are thinking, "Well, they have Michael Beasley, so they're probably going to the tournament." No, they're not. You still need good guard play in college basketball, and with David Hoskins still not recovered from knee surgery, it looks like Beasley's one season of college basketball will have to end in the NIT.
I get it. We don't look very good right now. I mentioned in the review of the Savannah State game that, despite the record-setting defensive effort in the second half, this team still has issues. Our guards have to stop throwing the ball away 15-20 times per game (we average 17.6 per game right now). We need to find somebody who can consistently make shots from the outside. The coaches either need to do a better job of teaching man-to-man defensive principles, or the players need to show better effort on the defensive end to stop giving up open shots (see: Xavier game).
But all that still can't stop me from thinking this team has the potential to still have a good season this year. We have the best player in the country in Michael Beasley. What's even better, Beasley doesn't try to aggrandize himself at the expense of team success; if anything, he sometimes doesn't take enough shots. We have other players that have all the athletic ability and basketball talent in the world, but are simply inexperienced. We have stretches of basketball where we look tremendous.
The great thing about inexperienced players is they don't stay inexperienced for long. We only need to look down the river to see that. Back in 2005, that school had the following freshmen: Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright. That team went 9-4 in the non-conference season. It started the conference season 2-2.
It ended the conference season 13-3, tied with Texas atop the Big 12, and won the postseason tournament. And then lost to Bradley, of course (can't ever forget to mention that).
I look at the players we have now, and while it's impossible to compare them to the 'beak players of 2005-06, Beasley, Bill Walker, Dominique Sutton, Jacob Pullen and others have the potential to get a lot better as the season goes on. But even based on this, I'm not saying Davis should have bought K-State. Maybe held, but certainly not sold. There is one big difference between K-State this year and the other conference school in 2005-06.
It's the difference between Frank Martin and Bill Self.
I'm not kidding when I say that Frank Martin will play a bigger part in how well this team does this year than any of the players will. Bill Self allowed his young players to learn that year, and they got better every game. Whether Martin can duplicate that showing this year will determine whether Selection Sunday finds us looking at where our regional assignment will be, or whether we're trying to figure out which also-ran we will play in the other tournament.
Can Martin figure out a way to effectively use Beasley? Can he get Walker's attention and demand maximum effort from him, every second of every game? Can he get Pullen to calm down and stop throwing the ball away? Can he keep Sutton limited to his role of tough defender and inside finisher?
If the answers to these questions are yes, we are in store for an exciting conference season, and certainly an NCAA tournament berth. If the answers are no, we may go a little better than .500 in conference and will have to hope to catch ligthning in a bottle in Kansas City at the conference tournament.
The value of our stock depends on Frank Martin. He has the pieces on the table. Can he put them together?