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Frank Martin wins while teaching life’s values

By Cole Manbeck

When Frank Martin goes inside the home of a recruit, there’s one constant message he delivers to the parents: “I tell them, real simple, if any of them somewhere down the line can sit in a chair and say Frank Martin cheated my son, then I can’t sleep at night,” the Kansas State head coach said earlier this week.

Cheating, in the form that Martin speaks of, means being too easy on a player — something that doesn’t occur under Martin’s watch.

“I work real hard at keeping my word and when I say I’m going to do things I do them,” he said. “So when I tell parents that, I’m not just saying it.”

Some of sports’ best competitors hate the distaste that comes from a loss more than they love the feeling that stems from a victory. Losing is frustrating and winning is often just a relief — a weight off your shoulders.

Victories of utmost importance. If it wasn’t, coaches wouldn’t be fired at the rate they are. So as a coach, it would be easy to get caught up in a win-first mentality, sweep issues under the rug and avoid turmoil off the court. But sometimes what some people consider drama is a necessity.

“I want to win more than the next guy,” Martin said, “but I refuse to put winning a game above guys doing the right things.”

Which goes back to what happened 11 days ago, when Martin made it public knowledge that he had five of his players running stairs for the entirety of a practice the day before a road game against Oklahoma.

Did this lessen the Wildcats’ chances of winning that game?

Maybe, maybe not. But I’m looking at the bigger picture, not a game in January. The method Martin utilizes as a coach is about teaching life’s values that players will remember for the rest of their lives, and with that, wins on the basketball court have come at a pretty good percentage as well.

“This is about going through an experience to help those kids be better prepared so when they’re done with college they’re ready to go out in the world and be a man, a husband, a father, an employee,” Martin said. “That way their parents can be proud of who they became.”

When kids go to college, they begin the path toward becoming an adult. Mistakes will still be made, but when they are, consequences follow. So when Martin has his guys running stairs, it’s not to stir up drama or draw attention to his team — it’s simply a consequence to an action — just like parents do with their children at home.

Two hours and 15 minutes of running steps is symbolic of what life is like when you get older and enter the real world. No, you probably won’t be running for your mistakes. Instead, you might be fired, unemployed and looking for work.

In a basketball sense, the point is if you don’t show up to practice every day and do your job to the best of your abilities, there will be punishment. There’s no better way to get that point across to a student-athlete than doing it the day before a game. By doing so, players learn that being responsible — doing what’s right day in and day out — is a more important value in life than winning a game.

“It’s not about (players) coming here, helping us win games and then going out in society and being a burden to their parents,” Martin said.

This is where Martin’s background as a high school teacher comes into play. In addition to being a basketball coach, he teaches his guys by preparing them for what lies ahead in life, not just the next game on the schedule.

“I’m about those kids doing things right,” he said. “I don’t want them going into society and not getting things done, I’m not into that. I want them to be proud of everything K-State was in their chapter here in helping them become men. If you do that, then you have a lifetime memory.”

Kruger returns home; Cats seek to avenge earlier loss

K-State, winners of three straight, will look to build momentum against Oklahoma on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. The two teams met just two weeks ago in Norman, Okla., with the Sooners winning 82-73. Since then, the 22nd-ranked Wildcats haven’t lost.

Saturday marks the return of Lon Kruger to Manhattan. Kruger, a two-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year at K-State, also coached the Wildcats from 1986-90, leading them to an 81-46 record and four straight NCAA tournaments, including the Elite Eight in 1988.

This will mark the first time Kruger, who was the K-State head coach when Bramlage Coliseum opened, has returned to Manhattan to coach a game. He has not coached in Manhattan since his last game as head coach — an 80-57 win over Nebraska on March 3, 1990. The first-year Oklahoma head coach has coached against the Wildcats on five different occasions at four different schools (UNLV, Illinois, Texas Pan-American and now Oklahoma). But he has never coached against K-State in Bramlage.

This weekend represents Legends Reunion at K-State, as Steve Henson, a coach on Kruger’s Oklahoma staff, also will be present. Henson, who played for Kruger at K-State from 1986-90, still holds several school records and is the only K-State player to have played in the NCAA tournament for four straight NCAA tournaments.


Probable starters

OKLAHOMA (12-7, 2-5)

  Ht. Yr. Ppg. Rpg.

G — Steven Pledger 6-4 Jr. 17.2 4.1

G — Sam Grooms 6-1 Jr. 6.5 3.0

G — Carl Blair 6-2 Jr. 4.1 2.1

F — Romero Osby 6-8 Jr. 12.1 8.3

F — Andrew Fitzgerald 6-8 Jr. 13.3 5.4


No. 22 KANSAS STATE (15-4, 4-3)

  Ht. Yr. Ppg. Rpg.

G — Will Spradling 6-2 So.  10.4 2.3

G — Angel Rodriguez 5-11 Fr. 6.9 2.2

G — Rodney McGruder 6-4 Jr. 15.5 5.6

F — Jamar Samuels 6-7 Sr. 10.5 6.5

F — Thomas Gipson 6-7 Fr. 8.7 5.7

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