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K-State Slate, 3/25/08

It feels like it's been forever since I posted one of these.  There is a lot to get to, so apologies in advance for a long post.

In the rush that has been the last four days--I've covered five states and approximately 1,000 miles by car, not to mention started back to school after spring break--I have thoroughly neglected to cover the women's basketball team.  As most of you know, the women were given a five seed and sent to Bridgeport, Conn., for first and second round action.  Not the worst seed, but a terrible draw (Chattanooga) and a terrible opening rounds site.

Anyway, the women defeated Chattanooga, 69-59, in the first round of the tournament.  That was pretty impressive, considering Chattanooga was undefeated in its conference this year and posted a 29-4 record.

Coming into the tournament, I was very concerned that the women may flame out without Kimberly Dietz, similar to the catastrophe in Kansas City.  But a familiar name jumped in and lifted the Cats to victory.  I am speaking, of course, of Kelsey Nelson, and it's not news to any of you that her brother is Jordy Nelson (more on him later).  She scored almost as many points Sunday (20) as she had all year (23).  That's awesome news for the next year, because Nelson is a junior this year.

It doesn't get any better.  A K-State athlete named Nelson and, of course, Shalee Lehning.

That led to tonight's matchup with four-seed Louisville, which unfortunately did not have a happy ending.  It turns out the women were eliminated at the same tournament stage as the men, falling by an identical margin, 80-63.  Because ESPN2 is stupid, I didn't get to see any of the game here in Houston, so I watched "No Country for Old Men" instead.  Phenomenal movie.

But let's not lose sight of everything that happened this season in the aftermath of one loss.  The women had an incredible season this year, and our hats at BOTC are off to them.  Well done, women!

With the end of the men's season against Wisconsin, a lot of ink has been spilled looking ahead to next year.  Of course, many people have this notion that K-State basketball will no longer exist after Michael Beasley's inevitable departure (again, more on that later).  Of course, K-State is a special case, because it brought in a coach who has no college head-coaching experience in large part to keep two highly touted recruits in Manhattan.  That led the KC Star to, for some reason, attack like Jayhawks going after tofu.

Unsurprisingly, Jason Whitlock took full advantage of a controversial and uncertain situation to try and piss people off (and if I'm any judge of message board reaction, it worked).  He thinks K-State's gamble on Frank Martin won't pay off in the long run.  

In the article, Whitlock notes he is betting on failure (as opposed to success) for Martin at K-State.  He mostly bases that on the struggles we saw in the second half of the conference season and the meltdown against Wisconsin, not to mention the fact that our coaching staff will never recruit another player like Michael Beasley.

I have a news flash for Jason and all those drinking the haterade out there: nobody in the nation is ever going to recruit another Michael Beasley.  He's that freaking good.  What they forget is, you don't need a Michael Beasley to win games, because nobody else is going to have a player like that, either.  You need to bring in a steady stream of high-level talent and then develop that talent.

From what I've seen, Frank Martin and Dalonte Hill are doing an excellent job of bringing in talented players.  Returning next year, we have players like Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton, and Ron Anderson.  Don't forget that Miami transfer Denis Clemente will be eligible next year, and he only averaged nearly 10 points in the ACC last year.  Jamar Samuels, and incredibly athletic player, will also take the court next year.  And when Beasley and, probably, Bill Walker's scholarships officially become available, it's likely they will be used to bring in some immediate junior college help.  So while Whitlock believes this team is capable of finishing last in the Big 12 next year, I have every reason to believe that comment qualifies him for admission to the loony bin.

One final comment on Whitlock's latest waste of newspaper ink: if I was Michael Beasley, I would be sorely tempted to break my foot off in Whitlock's ass next time I saw him.  First was the Hummer story (absolutely false according to people I know in Manhattan), and now the line that Dalonte Hill is his "nanny."  How someone so petty continues to have a job at a supposedly major newspaper ranks up there with Bigfoot among life's great mysteries.

For a much more rational look at K-State's future, I recommend this Howard Richman article as an alternative to the worthles ramblings of Whitlock.  In it, Richman poses the question of who will fill the enormous scoring hole left should Beasley and Walker leave K-State.

Clearly, the answer is not a single name, or even a couple names.  But it's better to look at things this way.  Beasley averaged 17.5 shots per game, so we'll round that to 18.  Walker averaged 12.5 shots per game, so we'll round that to 13.  That's 31 shots that are now available to other players.  Clearly, Jacob Pullen will be taking some of those shots.  Ron Anderson will get more minutes and certainly take a few of those shots.  Denis Clemente will take some of those shots.  We can only hope Dominique Sutton will improve his offensive game and take some of those shots.  Jamar Samuels will take some of those shots.  And that doesn't even account for the few shots per game that Clent Stewart and Blake Young took.

The point is, one single player will not replace Beasley, and two players will not replace Beasley and Walker.  But we have enough talented players for me to believe that a group effort can be counted on to pick up the slack.  As always, time will tell.

From the WWL, we hear that Frank Martin believes Beasley will turn pro this year.  I suppose this is going to sound blunt, but I'll go ahead anyway.  Duh!  I know Beasley has been saying all the right things all along, about how much he loves college and how unsure he is about making the jump to the NBA.  Fair points, because I can understand the anxiety about moving into a very demanding field of work.  But really, there's no reason not to at this point.

Look, education is supposed to be preparatory training leading to obtaining long-term employment.  But for a person like Beasley, getting an education isn't the step to successful employment.  He has already acquired the requisite training by playing the requisite year of college basketball.  Like it or not, he doesn't need a college degree.  His station in life is much different from the station most of us occupy.  I needed a college degree so I could go to law school.  Beasley needed to play one year of college basketball so he could go to the NBA.  He'll make a lot more money than I will, but the idea is the same.

Should Beasley decide to go pro, and I have no doubt he will, I heartily thank him for his time at K-State and wish him the best of luck in his NBA career.  Anything less from us as K-State fans would be selfish.  Would I love to see him back in the Purple & White (or black, I guess) next year?  Of course.  He is such an incredible talent, you can't help but love watching him play.  But he has given us what we wanted, and that is one year of incredible individual play and several milestone accomplishments for the program.  He has given us everything we had any reasonable expectation of obtaining, it's time for us to wish him the best on his personal future.

Amazingly, there are other things to talk about, so I'm going to move on from basketball for now.  It appears K-State is looking to buy its way out of this fall's game with Fresno State.  On top of that, the replacement will likely be a I-AA opponent.  My apologies to those of you who hold season tickets and will be forced to endure such a game.

I hate to see K-State break contracts, but that feeling of discomfort is assuaged when it's Pat Hill and Fresno State.  I was there in 2004 and, suffice it to say, have little respect for that program.

The above-linked article also has an interesting bit that fully describes the two-faced nature of politicians.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius had a seat near mid-court in the KSU section for the K-State vs. Wisconsin game, and one in KU's section for the KU vs. UNLV game.

In the first game, she wore black slacks and a purple top, and then changed to a blue top for the late game featuring the Jayhawks.

And just to illustrate that such action extends to politicians on both sides of the aisle, I will note that KU Law grad Sam Brownback was introduced to the crowd at the 2005 K-State/KU game in Lawrence (I was in attendance), and then in 2006 walked on stage at the George W. Bush Landon Lecture (at which I was also in attendance) waving a purple tie for all to see.

This is precisely why I try to keep the focus here at BOTC on sports.

In other football news, the venerable SB Nation blog, Sunday Morning Quarterback, has posted its Absurdely Premature Assessment of: Kansas State.  This article is definitely worth a read, as it is written by one of the preeminent college football voices in the blogosphere.

While the article itself is excellent, it is obvious SMQ knows nothing of the geographical realities of the state of Kansas.  In a sidebar, he refers to a picture of Willie as "relaxing against the only rock in Kansas."  He clearly forgot about Monument Rock, Castle Rock, and Mushroom Rock, not to mention the Flint Hills, which are mostly limestone.

The SB Nation blog Buc 'Em, which covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a post about Jordy Nelson.  Short story short, they love the guy, but then that's not news to a K-Stater.

A big BOTC congrats goes out to the men's golf team for winning the Rob Moore Invitational in Arizona.  K-State shot a 19-under-par 845 to beat Ohio State by two shots.

It's shaping up to be a special season on the links for the Wildcats.  Currently, the Cats are rated only 77th by Golf Magazine, but that should improve after last week's tournament win, as it came over the No. 50 team, Ohio State, among others.  Expect much more coverage of the men's golf team, as well as other K-State sports, in the coming weeks now that basketball season has ended.

The marathon post is now nearly finished, but I have been meaning to mention one last thing for a while now.  At the Big 12 Championship last weekend, I saw possibly the dumbest shirt I have ever seen in my life worn, of course, by a chicken fan.  It read, "What do you call the best basketball player in Manhattan?  A waiter in Lawrence."

If any of you can find a waiter in Lawrence who will be worth $100 million next year, let me know immediately, because I want to work at that restaurant.

The K-State basketball season recap is upcoming, probably on Thursday, as I have a busy day tomorrow trying to lift my intramural team to the next round of the postseason tournament.