BOTC Focus Group: Emergency Meeting Edition

It's been a while, but thanks to BracketCat we're back in action, addressing the most pressing issues in Wildcatland.  There's a lot going on right now, so feel free to join in the discussion down in the comments.

1. Shalee Lehning's jersey was retired Sunday, in her next-to-last home game as a Wildcat. What do you think about retiring jerseys before a player's career has ended? Also, what do you think warrants having a jersey retired?
 
2. Andy Ludwig is out. Michael Smith is in. Former players are climbing over each other to be part of the program again. Bill Snyder is reassembling his last staff, piece by piece. Are you disappointed by the lack of "new blood," or do you think it is better to have coaches who understand the Snyder system and the kind of hard work he demands?
 
3. In less than two weeks, Pat Knight has been slapped with a double technical, ejected and suspended for a game for criticizing officials. Meanwhile, Frank Martin has never received a single technical foul, yet somehow has a reputation for being out of control. Thoughts?
 
4. Obviously Tuesday's game against Oklahoma State is a must-win for our NCAA Tournament hopes. Despite playing ugly since the NC Central game, Martin's squad continues to find ways to win. Let's say we lose to the Cowboys, relegating us to the NIT. What would your assessment of the season be?
 
5. Kansas appears to have basically locked up a fifth consecutive regular-season Big 12 Championship. In your opinion, is this Bill Self's greatest coaching job yet or is it simply a sign of the relative weakness of the Big 12 this season?

BracketCat:

1. Originally, I didn't see what the fuss was all about, given that Nicole Ohlde and Kendra Wecker saw their jerseys retired while they were still active players as well. The bottom line is that Deb Patterson will get her way on this every time. Besides, it's a nice reward for all those fans who come from Clay Center/Marysville/Sublette to see their hometown player - in a few years, they may not have season tickets and may not get to see the honor if it waits until then.
 
However, given that it wasn't even Senior Night, that Priscilla Gary and Angela Romstad were retired Sunday as well (under what amounted to different criteria and circumstances) and that the women had just finished being shellacked at home by Texas A&M, I must admit the whole thing was damn awkward.
 
As far as appropriate criteria, I think basically an All-American level of performance is warranted, but you have to use the eyeball test and be flexible. I don't think the argument is whether Shalee deserves the honor; I think it's merely when she deserves it. Restricting it to 1st-Team All-American status would exclude Darren Sproles, by the way; hence, my emphasis on flexibility.
 
2. I'm extremely disappointed. Whether Snyder approached other coaches from outside the "family" and was rejected, or didn't even see the need to do so even after the 2004-2005 staff was clearly subpar, is irrelevant. We're not getting fresh ideas and perspectives, we're not getting recruiters and we're not getting coaches who are in high demand and who have the potential to be head coaches down the line. Those are all things we had before 1998. Until we get them back, this program will remain mired in mediocrity, and even Bill Snyder can't overcome that by himself.
 
3. The double standard is ludicrous. Frank Martin has acquired this maddening reputation despite doing nothing concrete to deserve it. All he has done is win 20 games for the second straight season and pointed this program toward extreme success in the future, while Pat Knight appears to be on the fast track to join Sean Sutton in graceless and forced retirement. I wonder how long it will take the mainstream media to realize that.
 
4. This season is an unmitigated success no matter what happens in Stillwater. Frank has proved he can coach. K-State has proved there is life after Beasley and Walker. Denis Clemente has proved he has learned from his mistakes in Miami and that he truly is the fastest player with the ball in America. Dalonte Hill has proved he is worth every dollar he earns (Matt Figger, too, if he can land DeMarcus Cousins). Darren Kent has proved that your potential as a player and a leader is more than sum of your physical talent; it's talent + toughness + willpower + belief in yourself. I love this team with all my heart.
 
Hang on to your hats, Wildcat fans. The next two seasons are going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
 
5. Self has done more with that collection of talent than I thought he could, but there is no arguing that he has benefitted from fortune as well. The Griffin thing speaks for itself. Baylor being picked third and likely finishing ninth hasn't hurt, either. That said, the Jayhawks have taken what they were dealt and just continued to pick off wins. Can't fault them for that. Heck, they should be undefeated - I still don't know how Missouri won in Columbia. I look forward to the day when we can win consistently despite losing so many starters and having a bullseye on our back in every single game.
 
Still, let's hold off on the Coach of the Year talk. The Jayhawks were picked fourth, after all. It's not like they weren't expected to be competitive, and Aldrich and Collins are still better pieces to work with than half the teams in this conference have. I'd give it to Mike Anderson, or maybe Travis Ford if he somehow wins out with that funky collection of talent Baby Sutton left him.

EMAW:

1. I do find it odd that a player's jersey is retired before they even play their last game, but if the player (in this case Shalee) is a positive representative of the University and program, than I don't see why she shouldn't be honored. I think it would be more appropriate to hold the ceremony after the last game the athlete plays at home, but that's just me. I do hope we are not setting up a slippery slope that will see us retiring any great player that strolls through the program. The honor of being able to have your jersey retired while still actually wearing it should be reserved for the truly immortal athletes (although it does create a paradox of sorts).
 
2. I can understand the desire for Bill to bring in players that understand how to win football games at K-State. It was obvious that he thought the "attitude" surrounding the program died off once Prince took over. My hope is that we do infuse "new blood" into the coaching staff within a couple of years. That is, after this "old school" staff gets the train back on the tracks (wink, wink).
 
3. Appearance is everything. Frank is an imposing figure with his big frame and intimidating facial features. It doesn't take much for him to look pissed off, even if he's probably just apathetic. Unfortunately the perception that Frank is out of control will probably follow him the rest of his career, unless he just decides to spend the games sitting in his chair filling out soduku puzzles. I doubt that happens.
 
4. At the beginning of the season, I expected us to at least make the NIT tournament. Knowing how weak our non-con schedule was, I reserved myself to the fact that we would have to destroy teams in Big XII play in order to reach the Big Dance. With that said, I would still be dissapointed with an NIT berth compared to NCAA, but I think any kind of postseason experience (plus the extra practice) will be a boon for our young team going into next season.
 
5. Let's not fool ourselves. Yes, KU lost something like 87 players to the draft and graduation last year, but they still had a good collection of top tier talent returning. Mario Little, Tyshawn Taylor, and the Sharpshooter twins were highly touted coming into the year. Team that with Aldrich and Collins and you have a team that most other coaches in the conference would like to consider a "re-built" roster. College basketball is definitely the easiest sport - for whatever reason - for young players to step in and excel. Yes, Self has gotten his team to outperform a lot of expectations, but I agree with Bracket, Travis Ford should get Big XII COY if he somehow gets the Pokes into the tournament. Hopefully, Frank Martin can prevent that on Tuesday.

TB:

1.  First, I agree with Bracket that what Deb Patterson wants, Deb Patterson is going to get.  Additionally, I love Shalee Lehning and believe she deserves every honor that can be thrown her way.  She plays the game with heart and is a wonderful representative of K-State.  And she has a smile that would power Vegas for a week.
 
All that said, I hate the idea of retiring a player's jersey before their career is over.  I think it puts unnecessary pressure on the player and it's just logically wrong.  I mean, if you're retiring a jersey, that should mean it will never be worn again.  Shalee's going to have to wear that jersey again unless she's changing numbers.  Also, why in hell do you have the ceremony when we're playing highly ranked Texas A&M?  I suppose the idea is a better opponent means a better crowd, but save it for Senior Night if you're going to do it before the player is done playing.
 
As for jersey retirement criteria, I abhor bright-line rules.  We learned first semester of law school that while bright-line rules are easy to follow, they will produce erratic results because they can't take certain factors into consideration.  I think that's especially important when you may be relying on outside sources (i.e., All-America teams) to decide if a player is worthy. When you're at K-State, without a major media market nearby -- frankly, the nearest media market does nothing to promote K-State -- you may have very good players that won't make A-A teams when, if they were playing for an Oklahoma or a Texas, they would.  Of course, we don't want to get too loosey-goosey with the criteria.  I don't think anyone wants to see Josh Freeman's number retired.
 
2.  I've gone from cautiously optimistic to this staff to just hoping that this doesn't turn into a trainwreck.  Del Miller?  Groan.  Michael Smith?  Gasp.  Dana Dimel?  Let's hope we get "coordinator Dimel" and not "head coach Dimel."  About the only coach I'm excited about is Vic Koenning.  Let's hope he sticks around for a while.
 
3.  I agree generally with EMAW.  Frank is just physically more intimidating than any other coach in the Big 12. I mean, who doesn't think that Frank could tear the arm of Mark Turgeon or Scott Drew off and beat them senseless with it?  Overall, I truly don't think Frank yells any more than any other coach.  Now, does he get madder than other coaches?  Maybe, but apparently he controls that pretty well considering he's never picked up a technical.
 
Bottom line is this.  Frank comes from the Bob Huggins coaching tree.  Huggins is not a well-liked guy, unless he's on your side.  Then, when Frank was hired, the KC Star made it their job to smear him in any way possible.  He started off with people looking for things about him to dislike.  Then they saw a big guy who has big eyes and could stare a hole in a boxcar who yells really loudly and thought wow, he must be a maniac.  It's not fair, but public perception rarely is.
 
4.  I'd still be fairly pleased.  One of these days, I'll go back and look at my preseason projections, but coming into conference play I don't think I expected to make the NCAA Tournament.  If I did, I still considered it an outside shot.  After losing Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, I knew we'd take our lumps, but we're still way more talented than we were five years ago.  If we get a first-day bye in OKC and play well in the NIT, I will consider the season a success, then pray five times a day that we get DeMarcus Cousins.  Even without him, we have some serious talent coming in next year.  It's going to be fun.
 
5.  There's no way I can disparage what Bill Self has done.  In a way, it's a little scary that he can simply reload a team that lost five players and win another regular-season title, probably outright.
 
That said, people are lying if they don't think the Big 12's down at least a little this year.  Only Oklahoma and Missouri are truly improved over last season.  Texas found out how much D.J. Augustin meant to its success.  Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are basically treading water.  Baylor fell off the map.  Texas Tech fell off the map.  In the North, we aren't as good as we were last year.  Nebraska is slightly improved.  Iowa State and Colorado are...well, yeah.  Not good.
 
In sum, I have nothing but respect for the job Bill Self has done this year, even if the Big 12 is a little bit down.  He gets my coach of the year vote.

mystman995:

1. I’d be lying if I told you I knew how important Shalee’s career was to K-State women’s basketball. I don’t. But I don’t agree with the fact that they retired her jersey before she graduated. I don’t agree with the fact that they retire jerseys in the first place – regardless of the sport. By retiring a jersey in any sport, it’s basically saying that they were damn near immortal and changed the face of the sport. Retiring Michael Jordan’s jersey makes sense to me. So does Jackie Robinson. If Tiger Woods had a number, retiring his “number” after he retires makes sense to me. College players do not.
 
I don’t think we should even be thinking about retiring Beasley’s number. Yes he was the best player in college basketball last season. Retiring his number should merit nothing short of perfection. He brought K-State basketball back. Back to what? Surely he must have won a national championship. No? Then at least the conference right? Oh, just third place. Didn’t the Cat’s finish fourth the season before that? What else did he accomplish in the rest of his three eligible seasons? Oh yeah, he didn’t stick around. Dalonte Hill has had a bigger impact here than Mike did. We should do something nice for him. Right, he makes a shit-ton of money.
 
And don’t get me started on the idea of retiring numbers. Who the hell started this trend?
 
2. Ok, time to get the blood pressure down. Let’s talk about football now…….I’m going to need strong medication after this one…..
I think we need to start adapting the basketball way of thinking – let’s hire guys who can bring in top tier talent! Forget this theory of hiring inside or outside the family. We need like four or five Dalonte Hill’s in order to compete the way we want to compete. The only guy I’m excited about which whom Snyder brought it is Vic Koehning.
 
3. I think Frank gets more of a bad rap is because it’s almost expected from a member of the Knight clan. Like father like son and blah blah blah. Frank is going to be Frank and his method is obviously working. And due to his clean technical record, you can’t rip on him for that. I think the Big 12 has bigger issues than Frank being a little colorful – like how Bill Self is using booster money to pay for his hair….
 
4. Well it’s going to be a disappointment. We saw how our Cat’s can play and that team resembles an NCAA tournament team. I think we have to throw out preseason expectations because there were way too many questions before the season started.
 
Now this isn’t a huge disappointment if we end up in the NIT because it’s still postseason play. It’s more in the lines of when you used to come home from school and the smell of brownies fill the house. No they aren’t homemade, but it’s still brownies right?
 
5. He’s done a helluva job. Not too many people can do what he did. He’d probably get my vote if I had one.
 
But let’s not say the Big12 is necessarily weak this year. The conference is going to be strong year in and year out. It’s all about the perception. How can you possibly tell me that the Big 10(11) could possibly get 3 more teams in than us? Ohio State isn’t as strong, IU has gone off the reservation, and a team like Penn State can make the tourney? And who wants to watch that basketball anyway? It’d be like watching re-runs of Nebraska play Iowa State, over and over and over again.

BracketCat: "I’d be lying if I told you I knew how important Shalee’s career was to K-State women’s basketball. I don’t."

If you are interested in brushing up on her career, I recommend you read this.

Panjandrum:

1. I think, as a rule, retiring a jersey before a player has ended a career is bush league and unacceptable.  The only thing that you're trying to accomplish when pulling a stunt like this is to increase attendance.  You hope that more people will show up to this game because you're retiring a beloved player's jersey.  However, what happens when they lose the game, and on top of that, the retiree is in the midst of a slump due to an extended illness?  Doesn't that take some shine off of the honor?  It's weird, it's awkward, and it makes KSU look desperate to hang jerseys.  Shalee deserves better than to be a marketing tool.

Overall, in terms of criteria, I've always felt the way North Carolina does it is best.  You have your jersey "honored", and you have your jersey "retired".  They are two different things.  An "honored" jersey is for an All-American, a National Championship MVP, a conference Player of the Year, or an Olympic Gold medalist.  These are great players.  However, to have your jersey "retired", you have to be a National Player of the Year by one of six different different sources (AP, Sporting News, Wooden Award, etc.).  These jerseys stand before those that are honored.  Only the elite are a part of this company.

In our history, the only players that would come close to qualifying for 'Elite" status is Michael Beasley.  And, truthfully, I think being the National Player of the Year is kind of lofty (however, it can be done), so you need to relax those standards a bit.  Therefore, I think that any National Player of the Year, or consensus All-American, should have their jersey, and number, retired.  I get that it's kind of silly to retire numbers, but "30" should always be revered at KSU in basketball.  In football, retiring a number isn't practical, but in basketball, you can make it work.  So, if it were up to me, I'd put National Players of the Year and consensus First Team All Americans in the "retired" status.  That would exclude players like Richmond, Evans, Blackman, Kruger, etc.  However, players like Beasley and Boozer (even though they both wore #30) would be retired, and that would probably include Nicole Ohlde as well.  I may be missing one, but could anyone argue that these players were even better than some of our greats and would deserve "immortal" status?

I guess I just find it kind of silly to consider an All-Conference player on the same level as someone like Beasley or Boozer.  Should we consider Shalee to be as great as Ohlde even though Nicole was a two-time Consensus First Team All-American, three time First Team All-Conference selection, and two time Big 12 Player of the Year?  I know she bleeds KSU, but let's put sentimentality aside and face facts; we've had some truly elite players in our history, and they should be held in higher regard.

2. I find the Michael Smith hire to be the worst of all of them.  I know that he's a K-State alumnus and a beloved former player, but I have no use for a position coach that only recruited one player to KSU in five years (2000-2005: Davin Dennis).  Give me a guy that can freaking bring in some players.  Especially when you already have a recruiting liability or two on the staff.

I feel that I've restrained myself in the past few months regarding the direction of the football program.  However, I will just say that after the staff was finally put together, I'm much less enthused now than I was when Snyder was first hired, and I'm just not seeing how this all ends well.

You don't go out there and bring back 6 of 9 former coaches  (Dimel was a GA on the 2005 staff) from a staff that lost thirteen games in two years expect a 'turnaround'.  When you set out to bring the family back together, you don't need to bring back the freeloading uncles that just show up for Thanksgiving without bringing something to eat.

3. Frank scares the ever-loving shit out of people.  That's just the truth.  My wife just calls him 'bad ass'.

When you come across as whiny (like Knight) and not, "I'm going to rip your damn head off," like Frank, you tend to get called for technicals more often.  However, if you strike fear into the hearts of officials, coaches, and players everywhere, you're going to get a rep as a bad (ass) dude, which Frank is.

4. It's been a great season.  Regardless of what happens, these guys have grown so much and played so hard that it just demands your respect.  Frank has really taken these guys and molded them into a team of fighters.  You always feel like they'll at least give their full effort, and that's why I love watching them play.  No matter what happens, they're going to make you earn it, and as a fan, that's all you can ask for.

It wasn't too long ago that we sat on the NIT bubble year in and year out.  To consider the NIT as a "failure" is a strong testament to the progress Martin (and Huggins) has made in three short years.  In my estimation, three years of 20+ wins and postseason play beats the alternative, and I'll saver every minute left of this year.

5. A little bit of both.  You have to give mad props to a guy who can win yet another championship after replacing all five of your starters.  The way Collins and Aldrich have stepped up is definately worthy of praise, and when you see guys like Little and Taylor step up as well, it just makes you shake your head and ask, "How does he just constantly reload like this?"

I hate those guys, but damn...you've got to respect them this year.

However, had Griffin not gotten hurt, you have to admit that they'd be second to OU.  But a conference season is sixteen games long for a reason, and you've got to give them props for going to Norman and getting it done.

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