I know we've all been pretty preoccupied lately with this whole football thing. It's been kind of awesome. There's also that other thing. It's been considerably less awesome.
With all of that going on, you could be forgiven for knowing that last Friday was the first day for college basketball practices, or as it's known in Lawrence, the end of football season.
Today, the Sprint Center (for the last time?) is holding Big 12 Media Day, so since most of us probably didn't make it there this morning and K-State only had two or three players there anyway, I've taken it upon myself to give you a brief introduction to this year's team.
In order to help the folks unable to detach their minds from football for even one day, I've tried to select the football player who best aligns with each of the 11 guys (like football, get it?) I've chosen from Frank Martin's squad. I apologize to those I had to leave out.
You'll notice there are no linemen in these comparisons. That is not a coincidence. Luis Colon is no longer on the team.
Before you click on the jump and read on, I should admit the idea for this post came partially from a desire to prove to Pan that I am not so classy as to be above cheap gimmicks to generate page views.
I am fully aware that some of these comparisons are tenuous at best, and for a lot of them, it's going to be up to you to figure out what the hell I was thinking, because I don't want to waste my words.
OK, so Jamar is probably somewhere between Miami Arthur and K-State Arthur. But let's be honest, when he's on his game, is there anybody else on this basketball team who you'd rather see go one-on-one in a must-score situation? I don't think so.
Samuels has a weird tendency to disappear and I've always thought of his willingness to come off the bench as a weakness, rather than an example of him being a team player. If K-State is going to surprise this year and get into the top tier of the incredibly difficult Big 12, JamSam is going to have to be a leader.
I'm not saying he needs to get up into his teammates' faces and elevate their games like Jacob Pullen (or even Curtis Kelly) could do at times. He only needs to lead by example.
The guy is a freak athlete, and with the extra weight he's put on this year, he could be downright scary on both sides of the ball if he can learn to keep his intensity and focus every possession. Even without a great jump shot.
I went back and forth on Spradling last year, wondering at times whether he deserved to be on the floor, and at other times why anyone else should ever play point guard. The guy isn't going to make a lot of highlight-reel plays, and he might be the worst one-on-one player on Kansas State's team.
But he has the kind of vision and discipline you just can't teach, plus a sweet shooting stroke as long as he's not thinking about it too much.
His progression on defense (from atrocious to acceptable) and against pressure last year was nothing short of remarkable, and it might not be unreasonable to expect him to get 30-35 minutes a game leading the offense this season.
Rodney McGruder as Chris Harper
When I heard recently that Rodney McGruder's knees were bothering him last season, I found it hard to believe. That's because this guy could simply jump out of the gym, and at times last season he even looked like a reliable guy to create something off the dribble when Pullen was out of the game.
At least until Jamar figures out how to put it all together, McGruder has to be the scoring leader for this team, and it seems like he's got the right temperament for it.
Taking that role is going to mean less settling for three-pointers (even as well as he shot them last year), and here's hoping that's something he's more inclined to do now that his knees are 100 percent.
Shane Southwell as David Garrett
If anyone on this team can challenge Samuels' athleticism and wingspan, it's got to be Shane Southwell. His absurd athleticism makes him one of the best defenders in the conference, and an invaluable asset on that side of the floor.
I wish I could say he might develop a jump shot, but I just have not seen it. When your only method of scoring is the occasional layup if there's an open lane to the hoop, you make yourself very easy to defend, and possibly give Frank a reason to take you out of the starting lineup.
Jordan Henriquez-Roberts as Brodrick Smith
If you had never seen the Kansas State basketball team play before, it would be really easy to look at JHR and pick him as the team's best player.
Watch his best highlights from last year, when he's using his full height to either make an incredible block or hit a tough, unstoppable jump shot in the post, and you'll wonder why you didn't see his name in the lottery the last time you looked at an NBA Draft board.
Other nights, though, you'll see an uncoordinated seven-footer who looks like he's never practiced a post move before in his life, and if he tries to dribble ... hide the children.
It's probably a little too hopeful to expect J.O. to become an all-conference player, but it would be nice if we never, ever again see the guy who fouls every possession and looks like he's going to turn the ball over every time he touches it.
Martavious Irving as Tysyn Hartman
Martavious can make some really nice plays, but at the end of the day, I just haven't seen the talent or the basketball IQ to be one of the top players on this team. His defense is just short of awful too much of the time, and when the jump shot is off, he becomes fairly useless on offense.
Being just 6'1" doesn't help, and the fact that he didn't even get an assist per game despite 15 minutes per game starts to give you an idea of how well he fits into the team offense that will be even more important this year.
As a third-year guy, he could be helpful in terms of providing leadership abilities, but in terms of actual gameplay, I see Martavious becoming even less useful. I hope I'm wrong.
Omari Lawrence as Angelo Pease
I'll be honest, I don't know a whole lot about any of the new guys coming in, and I definitely don't expect any of them to be immediate game-changers.
But I feel like I've watched enough St. John's basketball to know that anyone who gets recruited to play guard there has to have a certain amount of flash and potential. I mean, this guy was a top recruit in the Bronx.
Of course, it's pretty obvious this doesn't ever guarantee success for anyone and it seems like Lawrence isn't likely to knock anyone out of their starting lineup spot just yet. Kansas State has enough good perimeter shooters (Spradling, McGruder, Irving, Jones) that a quick slasher with decent size (6'3", 220) and strength could be just what it needs.
This comparison might actually be a bit ambitious with the way Walker is playing, but Jeremy Jones is a fairly high regarded recruit, as far as JUCO basketball players go. It's
probably certainly asking too much for him to be the next Ricardo Ratliffe, but he could be a good option to spell McGruder and Southwell on the wings.
Another good three-point shooter, this kid had no problems scoring at Seward County, where he averaged 18.6 points per game while shooting 48.6% from the field. I don't expect him to be anywhere close to those numbers, but if he can make some shots and play respectable defense, he should have no problem making it into the regular rotation.
James Watson as Jordan Voelker
Watson isn't quite as heralded as his fellow Kansas JUCO graduate, and with good reason. He averaged just 10.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game at Cowley last season after disappointing for two years (one as a redshirt) at Washington State.
At 6'8", 230, he almost could be considered small and might have trouble defensively against some of the bigger players in the conference, so he'll fit right in with the rest of K-State's big guys.
It will be nice, however, to have a post player with good hands and an outside jump shot, and I hope I can one day thank him for letting me know he was "getting ashy because that's what black people get when it's cold."
Victor Ojeleye is one of those guys you have to admire and root for when he's on the court, but really, you'd rather see him stay on the bench.
He could be good for team character and morale, but when you're a 6'6", not that athletic power forward, generally the only reason you're getting playing time in the Big 12 is because the game isn't close or the other guys did something wrong.
I'm sorry, and I know he's not on the team anymore, but I couldn't resist. The comparison is so obvious that I don't even think I need to go into it.
On a serious note, though, despite all the wasted talent and the immense amounts of frustration they've caused all of us, I'd like to wish Wally and Bryce all the best.
I don't pretend to know either one of them, but it just seems like their biggest issue was that they never really got to the right place mentally, and I'd love to see them find a way past that, even if it's at another school.
Frank Martin as Bill Snyder
Just kidding. I love and respect these two men and their unique personalities way too much to try to pretend they have much in common besides amazing leadership, winning, and looking good in purple. /nohomo