I'm not going to waste my writing talents previewing a team that lost to Ohio Dominican. Sorry. That's what interns are for (I kid, but seriously, if anybody else wants to write something up, then go for it).
Due to Christmas travel, I probably won't be able to get up a preview for Game 2, but hopefully I'll get something up for Game 3 of the Diamond Head Classic. Possibly against Xavier, but in my mind more likely against Long Beach St.
Last year on my blog that a very small number of you may have read, I decided to get into the spirit of the holidays and create a Christmas list for Kansas State athletics. Santa really came through in a big way on several items, so it seems like it's something worth doing again.
Before I unveil this year's list, let's take a look back at what the guy in the big red suit was able to deliver in the past year:
A jump shot for Jacob Pullen: It's hard to remember now, but at this time last year, Jacob was shooting a fairly miserable 31.3% from the 3-point line and playing especially poorly in big games (notably vs. Duke, Washington St. and Florida). In conference play, Jake made 40% of his 3-point attempts, and it's safe to say he came through in K-State's biggest games (vs. KU, Wisconsin).
Coordination for JO: OK, this one's still hit-and-miss. But because of last game, I'm willing to give Santa some props here.
A true post player: Hello, Thomas Gipson.
Free throw shooting touch: (See below)
A defensive line: Sure, it still needs some work and a lot of credit here goes to the linebackers, but I'd say going from 231 rushing yards allowed per game to 131 is reason enough to call this wish fulfilled. It's kind of amazing that KSU actually had one fewer sack this year (19) than last year (20), isn't it?
Of course, Santa is a busy man, so he wasn't quite able to bring everything I asked for. As a result, you will see some repeats on the list that follows.
A jump shot for Rodney McGruder
If Santa could help Jake improve, surely he could do the same for Rodney. The transformation has been even worse for McGruder this season, as a guy who shot better than 40% from 3 his first two seasons suddenly became a 20% shooter this season. I don't know what's going on, but I'd really like it to stop.
Consistent effort from Jamar and JO
I'm not asking JO to be a 17 and 9 guy every night, and I'm not even asking Santa to suddenly make Jamar into an all-conference player, though he should probably be third team, at worst. I just don't want to see any more games - or in Jamar's case, more portions of games - where these guys become invisible on the court.
I doubt I need to bring out statistics to back this up for most people reading this, but here they are anyway: JO has 3 games scoring in double digits to go along with 3 games where he scored 6 points or less. That just shouldn't happen.
Again, with Jamar it's more taking few minutes off here and there, but it's also pretty concerning that he has 24 rebounds in 2 games (vs. GW and VT) and then just 15 in the other 5 games he has played. That's a lack of effort, plain and simple.
Free throw shooting touch
This was really the item on my list where Santa did his best work last year. Kansas State was shooting an unimaginably awful 53% from the line heading into Christmas last season. Beginning with a 20 of 26 showing on Dec. 31, the Wildcats went from lumps of bricks to the joyous sound of leather hitting nylon following the holiday, shooting better than 74%.
They're in a much better position going into the break this year, but 64.4% is still pretty bad and ahead of only Texas A&M in the Big 12. I'm sure Santa can help us out here again.
A go-to player
I'll admit, this is probably the trickiest of all my requests. There just aren't a lot of strong candidates here.
Jamar doesn't seem to have the right personality, Rodney's dribble-drive and creative abilities are questionable even when he's not in a shooting funk, and while Will would love to be this guy, he just doesn't have the skillset.
Someone suggested Shane Southwell at one point (I believe), but while he may posses the pure athletic ability, I've seen absolutely nothing to indicate he has the shot, the dribbling ability, or the mindset necessary to thrive in his role. Basically, it's going to take a lot of Christmas magic to make this wish come true.
A webcam on Frank Martin
Seriously, name one way this would not be awesome, outside of sensitive people getting angry. K-State might even be able to make some money off of it by selling single-game and season ticket packages as a K-State HD extra or something.
Wouldn't you pay a nominal fee to just watch Frank while keeping an eye on a boring game against someone like
North Florida Maryland Eastern-Shore or Howard? I know I would.
A good running back
This one's a repeat, and I guess K-State already does have one good running back. The problem is he doubles as a quarterback, so it would be nice to have one that can take handoffs, too.
A new defensive coordinator
I totally understand that Santa doesn't want to sully his reputation as one of the most compassionate people on Earth by helping someone lose his job, especially in this economy. It was really clever of him to work around that problem by getting K-State some great juco talent and a guy named Arthur Brown to help hide Chris Cosh's deficiencies.
Still, I think I speak for most of us when I say it's just not enough. That's why I'm going to stress to Santa this year that Cosh doesn't need to be fired or forced to resign, and there are plenty of ways to make this into a positive situation for everyone.
I don't care if he's hired to be a coach somewhere else or if he wanders into a cryogenics lab alone on New Year's Eve and gets accidentally frozen for 1,000 years as the clock strikes midnight. Maybe quarterbacks won't know how to read the soft zone in 3012.
To paraphrase what a Big Ten coach once said about Bill Snyder for the exact opposite reason: Just get him the (expletive) out of Manhattan.
A Cotton Bowl win
Considering the way Santa botched the Pinstripe Bowl request last year, I'm not real optimistic about getting his help on this one. Arkansas's pretty good, and I think we'll just be better off hoping that HBCK and HCBS still have some of their own magic left.
Continued good health for Collin Klein
I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like either HBCK isn't made of the same physical stuff as everybody else, or we've just been playing with house money as far as his lack of serious injuries since at least the Oklahoma game. Either way, I figure it can't hurt to put this on the list.
More comfortable wins
This one's on here not as much for me as for people like Furnace, my dad, and of course, Bill Snyder. I'm no expert on old people's hearts, but 8 wins like the ones K-State had this year just can't be good for them, and despite some of the crazy things Furnace says, I would like to see all 3 of those people survive.
I'm not asking Santa to help K-State blow everyone out - just KU - as that would get boring pretty quickly. I was just thinking it would be nice to have a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter, you know?
Women's soccer and softball programs
There are really just two things you need to know here: 1) Kansas State is the only school in the county to have varsity women's equestrian and rowing teams but not softball or soccer. 2) Rowing scholarships are frequently given to athletes who have no previous rowing experience, but excelled in other sports in high school, including softball and soccer.
No disrespect to all the hardworking athletes on the K-State rowing and equestrian teams, but this is absolutely ridiculous. I believe the official line is this is the best way to deal with Title IX compliance (equestrian and especially rowing teams have a lot of roster spots) but the fact that no other school does it destroys that argument.
I already hated this state of affairs, but it got even worse when my sister decided she wanted to play soccer in college. As a direct result of this problem, she didn't even consider K-State but visited KU (turns out the coach seemed like an asshole) and ended up going to a different Big 12 school.
Much more tragically, she now roots for that school's athletic teams whenever they face
KU KSU. This is kind of embarrassing for me, and I blame K-State's athletic department more than I blame my sister, since she does after all know most of the athletes who use the same facilities and often otherwise interact at her university.
If you have any additional requests, be sure to put them in the comments and I'll put the good ones on the list before I give it to EcoKat to take to the North Pole before the close of business on Christmas Eve. She said she's really glad to have a reason to get away from Sean T for a little while.