Well Saturday's night conclusion against Colorado pretty much summed up the Kansas State basketball season. So close but yet so far away.
If anyone has not heard Rodney McGruder hit an apparent game winning three pointer at the buzzer to notch a crucial road victory and maybe push the Wildcats toward the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for KSU, instant replay showed the ball still touching his fingertips and the shot did not count and K-State trudged off in defeat.
It has turned out to be one of those years for K-State. Yes they are still having a decent season overall at 16-9 but not anywhere near their preseason #3 ranking.
If this was 2001 and not 2011, Wildcat fans would probably be ecstatic with an overall record like they have and a probable NIT bid. But KSU fans thought they were past the days of trotting out mediocre talent.
Maybe everyone should have wondered just a little bit more when Dominique Sutton decided to transfer back to his home area of North Carolina after last year. You don't often see three year starters transfer off a team that went to the Elite 8 to a program like North Carolina Central.
Sutton's reason for departure was that he wanted to be back near his kids. This is a very valid reason and for all anyone knows the exact hundred percent truth. It is just something that you do not see often if ever in the big time world of college basketball.
Even with the loss of Sutton, K-State fans believed in the talent returning along with some intriguing recruits.
In addition to Pullen and Kelly the Wildcats were welcoming back the Big 12 sixth man of the year last season in Jamar Samuels along with former McDonalds all American Wally Judge. Both players were expected to amp their games up this year a notch.
It did not happen as Samuels still plays great on some nights and disappears on other nights. On some occasions the only way you really notice Samuels on the court is through a dumb foul or turnover.
Judge was the player who many expected to take the biggest leap this year. The only movement that really seemed to take place with Judge was his trips in and out of the lineup and apparently Frank Martin's doghouse. Eventually Judge decided enough was enough and quit the team and has decided to transfer.
That takes us to the recruit with whom the most was expected, D1 transfer Freddy Asprilla. In his short time in Manhattan, Asprilla never seemed to be that explosive of an athlete nor as polished a low post player as expected. He was foul prone and a complete liability from the free throw line. He along with Judge decided to take his ball and go home, well not necessarily home as was rumored but to the basketball juggernaut of Canisius.
So if keeping track of things that is two players who started at K-State who have now transferred to North Carolina Central and Canisius. At least the early rumors are for Judge to go to a BCS school such as Maryland.
Combined in with players quitting the team or underperforming was the mid-season suspension of the two senior "leaders" in Curtis Kelly and Jacob Pullen. Both received some illegal benefits from a Manhattan department store and were suspended. Pullen missed three games while Kelly missed six games. Word of this came down right before the Wildcats were getting ready to play UNLV in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Many Wildcat fans did not find out about the suspension until they were in their seats in the arena and heard word filtering about. Or they watched the starting lineup and wondered why Pullen was not playing.
The latest incident has been well documented with Curtis Kelly apparently winning an appeal for violations of the student athlete handbook which allowed him to stay on the team. Early rumors were that due to multiple violations he would be dismissed, leaving the Wildcats woefully thin.
Frank Martin appeared at a press conference and was less than outgoing in the discussion of Kelly. It has been a year with much criticism put at the feet of Martin as well.
After the strong run last season, Martin received a new contract and everyone seemed to like his fiery style. Well you start losing and the in your face antics begin to get questioned and maybe rightfully so. Some argue that his players can not play the way they need if they are worried that anytime they do the slightest thing wrong they may be yanked out of the game and get a tongue lashing.
The starting rotation and overall lineups have also come under fire. Many wonder how players can get comfortable when they go from the starting lineup to not even playing in a few games like Nick Russell and Judge experienced this year. Many argue that you do not see this type of behavior by other BCS programs.
Another red flag for some people was that Martin was rumored to have yelled at some players on the bench because they were not up and yelling and supporting the team. How much should Martin be criticized for this is debatable but it comes when he is already under scrutiny for his actions.
Not all is negative with K-State basketball though. Even with all the turmoil and player defections the team still continues to compete and play hard as their last two contests have shown.
Will this continue now though as their NCAA tournament prospects appear extremely slim and the Wildcats welcome in the probable #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Monday night.
As most everyone knows the last time these teams played the Jayhawks looked like they were toying with K-State as they ran them out of the gym by halftime and eventually won the game 90-66. Does anyone expect the result to be any different this time around?
So assuming KU once again defeats K-State will the fans and players still be committed to this year and what lies ahead for this program.
The Wildcats lose their two best players in Pullen and Kelly after this year. Coming back next year are some nice role players such as Rodney McGruder who has stepped up this season and the aforementioned Jamar Samuels.
This team does not appear to have any superstars on their roster nor in the incoming recruiting class. A look at the commitments next year for KSU show a 6'7" power forward along with a 7'0" center who is listed at 205 lbs and a PG from Miami. You would have to assume that none of these players will come in and immediately be a star in the Big 12 as not one of them is nearly as highly ranked as Judge was coming out of high school.
Needless to say it will be an interesting offseason for the KSU program after this tumultuous season. Will we see anymore transfers? Will Martin need to run any players off? Will they try to get a JUCO player to come in and help?These are just a few of the questions for this program.
So in conclusion at least for the time being in the state of Kansas things appear to be back where they were in 2001. The KSU football team beat the KU football team by 52 points this past year and now the KU basketball teams looks to equal that number in their two games over KSU.
What is the saying: the more things change the more they stay the same.