Kansas State was rewarded for their successful season as the Wildcats earned an appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their third in the last four seasons by receiving an at-large bid. They are set to play the Utah State Aggies, who went 30-3 and won the WAC Conference, on Thursday night. They are going to have their hands full with Tai Wesley, the reigning WAC MVP, but Coach Martin will have his big men ready for the challenge. In the NCAA tournament, teams with experience and leadership often do better than the less-experienced teams, and K-State is led by two seniors, Jacob Pullen and Curtis Allen. If Pullen and Allen can step up on college basketball’s biggest stage, Frank Martin and Co. might last longer than the one game everyone expects them to.
Frank Martin joined WHB in Kansas City to talk about whether he is becoming accustomed to making the NCAA tournament, how the NCAA Selection Committee fared on selecting the field, and how they matchup against Utah State.
Whether he is becoming accustomed to making the NCAA tournament:
“No, never. Anytime you get into this tournament you are privileged, you are lucky, it is a great reward for kids that invest a lot to winning and to a common goal. Anytime you get rewarded with an opportunity to play in this thing you should be real proud of your kids.”
How the NCAA Selection Committee fared on selecting the field:
“That is not for me to judge or say, I am not part of the committee. They have got a hard job. I have been here five years, two of those five years we were left out and both times I thought we should be in. Hugs (Bob Huggins) said to me when I took over, he said, ‘Frank, it is real simple. If you win enough, you get in. If you don’t, you won’t and ever since then I just think they do a pretty good job of picking teams, it is not an easy one. There are always going to be people unhappy. One thing I still don’t like, this is what aggravates me, is that the committee members are human beings, just like you and I, they watch TV, they listen to the talking heads, and the disrespect that goes across this country by the national media people about the Big 12 in comparison to the other leagues, is just mind boggling to me. I am not saying that we are better than the next, but we don’t take a backseat to anybody. Winning in our league is next to impossible. Why our league continues to be slighted just boggles my mind.”
How they matchup against Utah State:
“It is a hard one. They remind me a lot about Nebraska. They are kind of a combination, style of play Kansas-Nebraska, that is kind of the style of play what they remind me of, they are a big-time rhythm offensive team, they throw it in the post all the time and then they surround two good post players with shooters and a couple of guys that are athletic that can drive the basketball. They are good. I think they are a Big 12-caliber team. I think it is going to be a hard game. You are asking me about seedings, I think they are better than a 12th seed, but then again, I am not in that room, I am not part of the decision-making process, so I don’t know what reasoning goes on. What I do know is this. They have got a winning culture going on there. They expect to win, they win championships and whenever you have that as a team you become a difficult team to beat.”
How valuable Jacob Pullen is to the team:
“We need him. He makes it easier for us. Can we win without him? Absolutely, but it is a lot easier to win with him and as much as I questioned our team’s leadership early in the year, I could not be happier with the leadership he has provided coming down the stretch. He has made our team better, not by just his play, but by making people do their jobs and doing them better. That is what leadership is about.”
If he is tired of playing good Utah teams:
“If you are in the tournament just be happy that you are playing. I mean there is a lot of people that have very good basketball teams that are not getting the opportunity we are getting so regardless of who they put in front of us we are going to be ready to go.”