MANHATTAN — As long as Dominique Sutton is a member of the Kansas State basketball team, coach Frank Martin expects to be asked the same prevailing question about his game.
When is he going to become a better shooter?
In his two seasons, the 6-foot-5 junior guard has made 6 of 28 three-point attempts. Martin, though, says Sutton is improving by the day.
But Martin has a question, too. Does that really matter?
"Is he ever going to be a guy who jumps up and makes nine threes in a game? Probably not," Martin said. "It's not what he does."
What Sutton does do is play effective defense, attack the basket and consistently make mid-range jumpers.
During the offseason, Sutton went overseas and participated in a nine-day tour of the Czech Republic and Austria with the East Coast All-Stars and focused on playing to those strengths. And his game improved.
By the end of the tour, he said he had learned how to stop worrying about mistakes and just play. In turn, he averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals.
That's quite a jump from his stats at K-State (7.5 points, 5.4 rebounds), and when Martin saw those stats, he told Sutton to keep doing what he did in Europe.
"I told him, 'Don't get yourself too worked up about making yourself a three-point shooter,' " Martin said. "'That's not who you are. Yeah, you need to shoot them some. You need to make some for us, but when they don't go in you can't allow that to affect what you're really good at, which is that area of the floor from about 5 to 16 feet.'"
Hearing those words gave Sutton confidence.
"He's seen the things that I can do and he's seen how hard I worked this summer on my mid-range game, my post moves and rebounding," Sutton said. "I've gotten a lot stronger, and he's OK with that. He knows that I don't feel comfortable shooting the three-ball. He says, 'You're not comfortable with it, do other things. Do the things that you've been doing. Do the things I saw you do when I recruited you.' I like that."
With the season beginning, Sutton says he has taken that advice to heart.
"I haven't really been working on my three-ball," Sutton said. "I need to get in a flow. I'm a rhythm player. I might come in and hit one or two threes in that stretch if I'm in a rhythm, but I'm more of a get-to-the-basket, create-off-the-dribble player. That's what I'm looking to do."
For K-State, that is good news.
Playing from the three-point line in is always what Sutton has done best, and if you look back at his high school career it would be silly to ask him to make such a dramatic change to his game.
When he was a senior at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C., he played center. At the time he was 6-foot-4, and that size set him apart. Playing prominently near the basket, he averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds but never took shots from the outside.
"I didn't shoot a jump shot until I came to K-State," Sutton said. "I could always shoot the mid-range game, but when I came here shooting the mid-range and the three, I was like 'Oh, man.' I was really hesitant. I had never stepped out and really shot a three ball in an actual, real game. It was a switchover, going from a center to a two-guard. It was something new for me."
Now that he and his coaches know what he does best, nothing is new to him anymore.
That will undoubtedly help him this year, and he is looking forward to playing an entire season with an old focus on his game. Martin is excited about it, too.
"There's nothing wrong with being who you are," Martin said.