MANHATTAN — As the Kansas State basketball team takes a step back from its difficult stretch of nonconference games to play North Florida at 1 p.m. today at Bramlage Coliseum, coach Frank Martin will ask his players to try and improve in some key areas.
He will likely stress defense most.
An inability to stop guards as they drove to the basket led to K-State's first loss of the season on Thursday against West Virginia, and Martin made it clear afterward such breakdowns aren't acceptable.
At times K-State made it difficult for the Mountaineers to dribble the ball across the half-court line during the double-overtime game. But once West Virginia survived that initial pressure, it was able to get to the rim with relative ease.
That led to easy points for West Virginia, and plenty of fouls for K-State. Senior Jamar Samuels fouled out before the end of regulation. That's not a mixture Martin wants to see continue when the Wildcats play Alabama next week in Kansas City and travel to Hawaii for a three-game tournament after that.
Martin says he will also push to come up with better ways for his team to score so it won't need quite so many stops.
When that happens, he says, "We will become a better basketball team."
With the help of junior forward Rodney McGruder and sophomore guard Will Spradling, he's confident K-State will find a winning mixture.
"One thing I don't worry about: These two guys next to me," Martin said. "I don't worry about them. They're going to do their jobs. They know I trust them. They come in every single day and take care of their business. They try to do their jobs the right way and give us consistent effort."