Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007

The fly route

December 20, 2007

The Kansas State men's basketball team and superstar Michael Beasley introduced themselves to Kansas City Monday night with a pedestrian 87-60 win against Florida A&M.

In doing so, the Cats did little to assuage either my fears or my expectations.

Having seen K-State in person twice already this season and on television numerous other times, I remain unconvinced by either the argument this team is a lock for the NCAA tournament, or that it's a disaster in the making.

There are few better ways to have your purple-encrusted diploma ripped away and your season-ticket rights denied than admit doubts in first-year coach Frank Martin.

So, I don't intend to do that quite yet. The team's inconsistencies are frustrating, however.

That's not necessarily a condemnation - with such a young team, inconsistencies are a way of life. I saw the team beat an undefeated California squad two weeks ago. It wasn't a blowout, but the Cats were crisp, powerful and talented. Beasley was effective if restrained and Bill Walker showed for the first time he could be nearly Beasley's equal.

That's the part that sets my mouth watering like I'm staring at a cherry cheesecake. That's the tandem fans have dreamt about since Bob Huggins first came to K-State, more than 18 months ago - a tandem so talented, that with a few role players, it would be unstoppable.

It's obvious it wasn't all just the far-fetched wishes of a desperate fan base, either. Beasley is that good. He can fight his way through a triple team and still get the ball in the basket.

Bill Walker is as good as advertised, too.

The worst gym I ever played basketball in is located four miles from my parent's house. It's a ratty little basketball court on the third floor of a ratty little school building. The whole place shakes when anyone's playing, the entire court isn't terribly much wider than the free-throw lane and the 3-point arcs around either basket nearly meet at half court.

I'm fairly certain Walker could jump out of that gym. Literally.

Against Cal, he was strong. He shot the 3-ball with some accuracy and he drove to the rim with such strength that there are few players in the country who could have stopped him.

It's not always so simple, though. Monday, against a pitifully uncompetitive Florida A&M team, K-State just wasn't clicking.

The game wasn't even close, but it just never felt right. Beasley didn't get enough touches, and he didn't finish while driving to the lane like he has at other times this season.

He drew fouls - he always draws fouls - and has made more free throws than anyone else in the Big 12. To beat everyone else in the Big 12 he'll need to play on another level.

The same goes for Walker. He can be so good, but he can be so average, as well. Like Beasley, he doesn't have a problem getting to the hoop or getting to the line. He has a problem finishing, though.

The upside of this team is as good as advertised. It can truly dazzle. Now through the first portion of the season, it remains unclear how often that will happen.

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