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Kansas at Kansas State Preview : Part 2 : Know Thy Enemy: Bring on the Cats

Here are his answers to my questions. Mine will shortly be up over at TB's blog, Bring on the Cats. Make sure you check him out all the way up to game time, he is the best K-State blog out there.

1) Make a case for Michael Beasley to be the National Player of the Year.

I'll start with scoring, just because that's where everyone starts.  He scores 25.3 points per game, ranked fourth in the nation.  On top of that, he's had seven 30-point games.  Next, we'll look at rebounds.  He leads the nation in those, with 12.7 per game.  Rebounding is an effort stat, which goes to show he isn't the type of player who saves his energy for the offensive end and doesn't hustle.  Combine the scoring and you get 16 double-doubles and seven 30-10 games.  But here's my favorite Beasley stat: he takes 16.3 shots per game.  He isn't a black hole who tosses the ball in the direction of the hoop every time he touches it.

Beyond the numbers, he just makes the game look easy.  Tyler Hansbrough, who I consider Beasley's leading challenger for player of the year, is one heck of a player.  But he makes the game look hard.  He plays it well, but he makes it look like it requires more effort than it does.  Beasley is, in my opinion, underrated just because he looks like he isn't trying.  I'd love to look like I wasn't trying and be fourth in scoring and first in rebounding.

2) How do you feel about Frank Martin as a Head Coach? Is he good enough to be the long-term answer, or once this Michael Beasley and Bill Walker run is over should the Wildcats rebuild with another coach, one with previous collegiate head coaching experience.

Frank Martin has really impressed me the last four games.  It looks like he really does have a system on both offense and defense, and it looks like his system works considering we're 4-0 in conference with a road win at Oklahoma and a thrashing of Texas A&M.  And it's not like he just keeps trying something until it works; he mixes things up, going from man defense to a 3-2 zone to a halfcourt trap.  I've said it a million times now, but his offense-to-defense substitutions for Beasley in the A&M game were a stroke of genius, and really helped keep the first half close.

At this point, I don't know if he's the long-term answer, but that says more about the skeptic I am than Martin's coaching ability.  If we were winning by playing Memphis ball--i.e., everybody trying to create their own shot--then I'd be really worried about next year's prospects after Beasley and Bill Walker are gone.  But if you have a system, you can plug in good players who execute it and it will still work.  We have some good players on the roster, and are supposed to have some good recruits in future classes.  If he can coach and recruit, there's no reason he won't be at K-State for as long as we will pay him.

3) What is your take on The Streak? Do you like the throwback unis and the 'Blackout at Bramlage' take on it, blowing the game out of proportion until the Wildcats finally win? Or do you prefer the attitude Beasley and Company are taking this year, treating the game just like any other game.

I thought the Blackout was awesome last year, but more because it looked cool than anything.  The lavendar jerseys was my freshman year, so I really hadn't been fully indoctrinated in K-State history and traditions at that point.  To me, those things are really for the fans, because the players generally aren't interested in what's going on away from the floor (unless it's David about that for a blast from the past).

To get back to answering the question, I'm not a fan of anything that makes it seem like a bigger deal than it is.  I've said this conference year we are playing a series of 16 one-game seasons, and this game is another one.  In that sense, I like the mindset of Beasley, Walker, etc. because I think sometimes we make too much out of the streak and that puts more pressure on the players.  But beyond all that, it helps to have players like Beasley and Walker because they know they are good players and won't be intimidated going up against the likes of Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Mario Chalmers, and the rest.  In the past we've had marginally talented players who knew they would be overmatched, but most of our guys now will not be in awe.

4) Which Kansas State team is the "real" one, the team that lost by 26 to Xavier and by 10 to George Mason, or the team that demolished Texas A&M and won in Norman?

At this point, it's the team that demolished A&M and went down to red-dirt land and emerged victorious.  No doubt we saw some struggles this season, but my belief is that is the typical growing pains with freshmen and a first-year coach.  It looked like Martin was trying to get everybody on the same page within his system, but at least some of the guys thought they could go out there and play AAU ball.  It worked in the games where we clearly outclassed the other team talent-wise, but it doesn't work against solid Division I teams.  The Xavier game was the final wakeup call.  I would bet money Martin tore some people up and everybody finally realized they had to work together to win.

5) Finally, how far do you think the Wildcats can realistically make it in March? It looks like, barring a complete collapse, the Wildcats will definitely make the Field of 65, but how far in the Tournament can you make it? Sweet 16? Elite Eight? Final Four?

At this point in time, my biggest goal is the Sweet 16.  Obviously I want to win it all, but of course I try to be realistic (most of the time).  A good friend of mine who played juco ball in Alabama told me the other day he thinks K-State in some ways resembles Syracuse in 2003, with the young team that could sneak up on people.  Anything is possible with Michael Beasley, but for now I'm sticking with the Sweet 16.  Anything after that would be awesome.

Of course my dearest wish is that the committee somehow sees fit to drop the Cats in the Houston Regional, because I just got my tickets in the mail today


TB did a tremendous job in answering my questions, providing insight into how a Powercat is viewing this game.