It's always good to go back and look at what you expected before something happened and then see how accurate you were after that event, whatever it is, actually happens. In this case, Panjandrum, EMAW and I got together before the season and committed to electronic print our prognostications for the recently completed men's basketball season. Below is a review and comparison of our preseason prognostications to the season's actual results.
Click the jump for more...
(I edited this because this thing needed shrinking. Sorry TB. - PJ)
Coming into this season, I was very excited about this K-State team, even though we'd lost two NBA draft picks from the previous season. No doubt guys like Denis Clemente, Jake Pullen, Dominique Sutton and Jamar Samuels are a testament to the resurgence of basketball in Manhattan, as they are easily the most talented players we've had since I've followed K-State basketball.
One place where I was really wrong was the schedule. Take a look at what I said back in November:
"While I think the prognosticators are wrong even in this regard, I will note that the preseason predictions seem to be more of a power poll than an actual prediction of where each team is going to finish. Five of the top six teams in the conference could be from the South, but I doubt it. Up here in the North, we get a pretty good look at eight conference wins just by playing Iowa State, Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri twice. And in this season when KU lost a ton of players and will probably struggle, at least for a while, breaking in the new ones, the 'beaks are not invincible to any team. Throw in home games against OU and Baylor out of the South, and we at least have a fighting chance with the home crowd behind us against. Among our other South opponents, we get Texas Tech at home, Oklahoma State has a first year coach and is an unproven commodity, Texas A&M isn't unbeatable, and sometimes we play really well at Texas for some reason. Mind you, I'm not making any predictions -- yet -- but merely pointing out that the Big 12, and the North in particular, is not as strong as it has been in the past, leaving the door open to a talented team that plays well together."
I severely underestimated Missouri. We couldn't beat KU. The North was at least as good as the South. On the bright side, we did beat Texas...again.
After making such a bad prediction, let me pat myself on the back real quick:
"My player to keep an eye on this year is Denis Clemente."
Well done, TB. Well done.
While I'm into self-congratulation, let's get another one out of the way:
"Predicted Conference Record: 9-7"
I'm on a roll.
And finally, while the comment about the North being weak was off-base, I was pretty close with my projection for where a 9-7 record would put us in terms of postseason play. Oh, what could have been.
"I would also think that such an overall record would put us on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, with a lack of a marquee non-conference win and a 9-7 ledger in the North possibly holding us back from a second straight appearance in the Big Dance."
Overall, the team met my preseason expectations. It was very satisfying to watch Frank Martin and his team overcome the doubters, both before and during the season, by overcoming the lack of marquee non-conference wins and the 0-4 start to Big 12 play to put themselves on the brink of an NCAA Tournament appearance. Only bitter losses to KU, Oklahoma State and Texas kept us from seeing the Powercat pop up on CBS' selection show two weeks ago. The fact that we got into a position where an NCAA Tournament appearance was a possibility and then failed to make good on that possibility makes the result more disappointing than it should have been, but on the whole I'm very impressed with Martin and this team. And it's only going to get better.
I'm just going to start off by laying this out there...
So, if I'm predicting a record today, I'm going to put on my homer-hat on and say that this team will go something like 23-8 +/- 1 in the regular season, and I think they may pick up another win in the Big 12 tournament. I really believe that this team could waltz into the NCAA tournament with twenty-five wins under their belt. I really do. The seed may hurt a bit from an RPI standpoint, but I don't see this being a team that loses a lot of games that it shouldn't because the guard play of Pullen and Clemente is solid, and the defense is so damn good.
Okay, so I was wrong about the NCAA tournament. Honestly, I thought KSU could beat Kentucky (they lost by two on a neutral floor), and I really believed they could beat Oregon (because they were awful). Therefore, my prediciton of a non-conference record of 14-1 would have been correct. Had KSU won those games, they would have hit my 23-8 prediction for the regular season. Also, I predicted nine or ten wins in the conference season, so I was basically dead on there.
Also, I had the RPI part correct as well. You can't go out there and play a schedule like that and not get killed by the computers. I realize that Frank doesn't care about such things, but as much as I love the guy, he can't schedule like this again. Had we played a tougher non-conference, things might not have been so tight at the end. You don't have any room for error if you rely on the conference season to build your resume. You're always going to be one slump or injury away from watching a season go down the drain.
Also, this is another thing that I want to throw out there and say, "Yeah, I was SO right,"...
Ultimately, I think Frank uses that depth to wear teams out. Over the course of the game, KSU will just come at teams. Even if we're having a bad shooting night, or the defense is a step slow, our twelve guys will be pushing the other team's best eight or nine players all game long. They'll play tough man-to-man defense all night long, and they will jump into the passing lanes. They'll dig their elbows into your back when you're on the blocks, and they will constantly slap at the ball when you have it on the perimeter. They will be disruptive and frustrating, and over the course of forty minutes, it will drive the opposing team crazy. I think KSU will win a few games they shouldn't just due to the fact that, psychologically, they will beat the other team into submission. They will just keep coming at you all game long, and win or lose, they're going to make you earn it.
Over the course of the season, Frank sent players in waves at the opposition. He would go ten or eleven deep as late as the second half of the conference season as he tried to find combinations that worked. Guys like Buchi Awaji stepped up in games against Nebraska and Iowa State to help KSU to their third straight top four finish in the conference standings. On any given night, a different player could have lead this team in scoring. Whether it's Denis scoring forty-four against Texas, Pullen scoring thirty-two against Illinois State, or Jamar Samuels with a huge double-double up in Ames, IA to keep the tournament hopes alive after a rough loss to Kansas at home threatened to derail the season.
I was a little too homerish when we did this, but I thought I'd go for broke. After it was all said and done, this team exceeded my (adjusted) expectations, and provided one Hell of an entertaining year.
Great job this year guys. We're looking forward to bigger and better things in 2009-2010.
Anyone who has ever competed against me in an NCAA tournament pool or fantasy league knows that I am horrible at making predictions. It's probably one of my biggest faults as someone who follows and analyzes sports to the extent that I do. I've had to suffer through too many experiences of hearing my own mother brag about how she picked more bowl winners than I did.
Well, whether I like it or not, this K-State basketball season finally found me on the right side of the prophecy. Everyone knew that this would be a tough season for the Cats to accomplish much. With a young roster of unproven players (other than Jake Pullen) and a coach on an island after losing Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, it would have been safe to assume this team would finish in the bottom half of the Big 12. Some of us thought otherwise.
Clemente and Pullen truly provided the spark in the backcourt that folks in Manhattan have not seen in quite some time. Although, I mostly thought that Pullen would be the go-to guy for the Wildcats while Clemente would fill in the cracks with his speed. However, Clemente stepped up and proved he can be the guy this team can look to as the main scoring threat. I think 44 against Texas helped solidify that point.
The biggest questions revolved around the low post, as Jamar Samuels showed flashes of the JamSam we all hope can show up on a consistent basis. He still has to show some fire to want to take over a game, and he could throw together a couple of post moves to compliment his athleticism. Luis Colon definitely improved from last year, but count me as one of the realistic souls who feel Lu may not fit in well next year. However, he proved capable of throwing his weight around and wearing down opponents' big men.
Let's not forget the lone senior, the White Tiger himself, Darren Kent. DK stepped up this year, especially with some added post moves and some solid defense. While he may have made several mistakes (traveling, anyone?) he is someone that epitomizes what K-State is all about.
Finally, let's get to where my predictions truly shined. Some of you may remember I had reservations about this team sweeping through the non-con schedule unscathed. I figured a couple of games would slip by due to the inexperience of the team, but all home non-cons would be must win. Well, 12-3 with all home non-cons was a good guess.
Moving into conference play, I figured a .500 record would be attainable, though I admit I was probably being a little too optimistic at the time. A top four finish in the Big 12 at 9-7 helped round out my overall record. While I wish I would have been wrong in thinking that we would be on the outside looking in when it got to tournament time, I still consider this '08 - '09 season a success. Frank Martin showed he can coach with the best of the Big 12, and some young guys got great experience. Throw in Wally Judge, Rodney MacGruder, Curtis Kelly, Nick Russell, and Jordan Henriquez and this team has a chance to contend for the Big 12 Championship next season. Yeah, I said it. Let's hope I stay on a roll.