2009-2010 Kansas State Wildcats Basketball Preview
Watch out for the Kansas State Wildcats (22- 12 overall, 9-7 Big 12)! Although they have been a weak club, going to the Big Dance once in five seasons and missing both March Madness and the NIT twice in that time, the Wildcats are on an upswing. Last season was better than most as they finished seventh in the Big 12 and made it to the NIT’s second round. This year should be even better for Kansas State.
This team did well upfront and on defense in 2008- 2009, placing second in the conference in rebounding margin at plus-6.2 and fourth in scoring defense, allowing just 66.6 PPG. Look for their ranking of 12th in field goal percentage (43%) and free throws (65%) to improve this year. Also last season, the team was ninth in threes (35%) and seventh in scoring, averaging 75.2 PPG.
Although the front has lost two key players, there’s some fine potential at the forward and center spots. Forward Curtis Kelly, a transfer from UConn, will be asked to use his bulk immediately and command the boards. Sophomore forward Jamar Samuels (8.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 APG) returns after putting in a fine frosh season last year. He should be even better this year. Freshman Wally Judge looks to play immediately. He’s fast, can shoot and offers solid skills. Hard working senior center Luis Colon (4.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.6 APG) will be asked to anchor the paint.
The Cats need guards Denis Clemente (15.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.5 APG), a senior, and Jacob Pullen (13.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 3.2 APG), junior, to have solid seasons and carry the backcourt. Clemente was first in scoring and assists last year and Pullen was second in both categories. With two solid veteran players, Fred Brown and Buchi Awaji, leaving the team freshmen Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder will be asked to contribute immediately.
As head coach Frank Martin starts his third season at Kansas State, he should finally see his hard work payoff. Last season’s 22-12 club surprised a lot of folks. These Cats will be on everyone’s radar screen this season. Despite that and their issues related to depth in the backcourt, Kansas State is good enough to excel and win either third or fourth place in the league. A trip to the NCAA Tournament is in the offing with Kansas State going into the second round before being eliminated.