KSU freshmen growing up fast
Manhattan ? Superstar Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley and first-year coach Frank Martin still maintained that it was just another game, just another victory.
Freshman Bill Walker, who contributed 22 points and five rebounds to the 84-75 upset victory against Kansas, couldn’t have disagreed more.
Walker talked about hearing from fans throughout western Kansas during a Catbacker tour and said all he ever heard was that they wanted a victory against Kansas. He wanted to give them what they wanted. And he wanted his team to be more of a part of the national conversation than it had been.
“People act like there’s just one team in Kansas,” Walker said. “We had a chance to show there isn’t.”
Kansas State’s freshmen combined for 69 points. They are growing up in a hurry.
“Guys are getting used to playing against high-major competition,” Walker said. “It’s going to take awhile for young guys to prepare for that, going hard, knowing how important it is to take care of the little things. We’re starting to do that.”
Little things, such as getting to loose balls first, which K-State did consistently.
Walker didn’t hesitate when asked to name the turning point.
“I think it was from the tip,” he said. “We showed that we weren’t going to back down. We weren’t going to let them do what they wanted to do. It started at the tip and continued throughout the whole game.”
Beasley finished with 25 points and six rebounds. KU made him earn every one of them. He didn’t score his first points, on a baseline jumper over 6-foot-11 Sasha Kaun, until 9:22 remained in the first half.
“It was tough,” Beasley said of KU’s defense. “They defend as a team. There is no one-on-one. As soon as I touched the ball, as soon as I stepped in the paint, there were two or three guys around me. It was tough, but I had some help from my teammates, knocking down open shots, cutting and getting open and rebounding my misses. It was tough.”
Martin said of the Jayhawks, “They’re so good that every minute of the game is important against them. I just told (injured forward) Dave Hoskins in the locker room that that is the kind of game that, as a coach, you age 40 years in 40 minutes, and when you win, you get those 40 years back. It’s hard to beat the champion. It’s not easy to beat a champion, and those guys are champions in that locker room over there.”
K-State’s primary ballhandlers, Jacob Pullen, a freshman, and Clent Stewart, a senior, combined for 31 points and just three turnovers.
“I’m tired of people calling our guards raggedy,” Martin said. “It ticks me off to hear that our guards are inferior to other people’s guards. Our guards stepped up and played like grown men today. We didn’t turn it over, and we made plays that win.”