January 17, 2011
In about two months, Jacob Pullen might have to prove that he's a man of his word.
On Monday afternoon, the Wildcats dropped to 13-6 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12, allowing No. 13 Missouri to close them out with a 17-4 run in a 75-59 win in Columbia, Mo.
Being 1-3 a quarter of the way through the Big 12 slate is tough enough.
On Monday they struggled to look the part of a disciplined team in the face of the Tigers' patented pressure defense. They committed 24 turnovers compared to only eight assists. Pullen was credited with three of those giveaways, including a couple paired with some bad timing after K-State had crept back to within three at 58-55, all but dissolving a 15-point halftime deficit.
So which direction do the Cats head in now?
If the season ended today, K-State would have one of the most interesting at-large résumés around. They scheduled well and rank No. 51 in RPI but are 0-4 against the RPI Top 50 to date. It's easy to forget among all of the recent losses that K-State still has the talent to rebound in a big way.
But what is bubbling beneath the surface is hard to ignore.
To recap ...
• Curtis Kelly shed some inside light on the Freddy Asprilla departure over the weekend.
• Pullen called out fans on his Twitter feed in the wake of an ugly win at Loyola.
• Sophomores Wally Judge and Nick Russell, who Martin told reporters following Monday's game are not injured, but he wouldn't comment on why they've been benched.
• Oh yeah, don't forget about the Pullen-Kelly suspensions.
A year ago, Frank Martin's over-the-top sideline schtick was all the rage, and his veteran-laden team fed off of it, riding its way to the Elite Eight. But when things stop going right, does it make a coach more likely to lose control of his group?
No matter how K-State fares the rest of the way, it should remain an entertaining soap opera to keep an eye on until mid-March.
It sure has been so far.
Ryan Greene covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun.