Wally Judge leads clever protest of Kansas State's football loss

Jeff Eisenberg

One day after a controversial excessive celebration penalty thwarted Kansas State's bid for a game-tying two-point conversion in the Pinstripe Bowl, several Wildcats basketball players decided to pay tribute to their football brethren.

When forward Wally Judge got knocked to the floor scoring from close range in the opening minute against North Florida on Friday night, he saluted the crowd and then his teammates saluted him as he stood at the free-throw line. It was the identical salute Kansas State receiver Adrian Hilburn was penalized for the previous night after scoring the game's final touchdown in a 36-34 loss to Syracuse.

(Fox Sports Net video shows only Judge's salute)

"That was kind of my idea," Judge told reporters after the game. "As athletes we're all a family at this school so us and the football team are one. That was just something for them to let them know we're still proud of them even with the loss. They played their hearts out."

The show of solidarity with the football team spearheaded by Judge may have been a good sign for a basketball program desperately searching for leadership. The Wildcats began the season ranked in the top five, but they've endured a bumpy nonconference season, suffering three losses and enduring suspensions to stars Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly as a result of improper benefits.

A stodgier coach might have been perturbed that his players would make a gesture to the football team like that in the midst of a basketball game, but Kansas State's Frank Martin appeared proud of Judge and his teammates. Martin was also adamant that no call should have been made against Hilburn in the football game, joking that this was the one time it was safe for him to publicly criticize referees.

"That guy must be from a different planet," Martin told reporters after the game. "I don't like celebrations. But if saluting is a look-at-me play ... that's as bad as it gets. To my guy who caught the touchdown, I salute him. That's a movement of respect everywhere I've been in my life."