Curtis Kitchen has followed the Big 12, Kansas State and national college basketball beat including K-State's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in 2010. You can currently follow his work at his blog: KitchenKC.com In the past, he also covered the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) for Major League Soccer's mlsnet.com site as well as the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals for the other sports station in town. His freelance portfolio ranges media outlets and publications, including gopowercat.com (part of the Rivals network), collegehoopsnet.com and the Miami Herald.
Curtis Kitchen: K-State: Avoid distractions, just do work
by Curtis Kitchen,posted Oct 21 2011 11:19AM
Big 12 basketball is offically underway as media day took place on Thursday, and I won't lie, it's Christmas come early for a basketball junkie like me.
That said, we'll talk football, of course, as Kansas and Kansas State meet again. Talk of this game has been scattered - fighting for headline space next to Missouri's continued Big 12/SEC indecision, Chiefs/Raiders scuttlebutt, ESPN College Gameday mentioning Manhattan as next week's location and basketball coverage.
So, what's the landscape for Saturday?
Some fans feel this is a trap game of sorts for K-State, others don't. Some feel KU is improved after its showing against Oklahoma, others don't. There is a very lukewarm feel to this game, which I guess is to be expected when one team, while undefeated, isn't flashy. The other team is on pace to set defensive records for futility. Or, it could just be the 11 a.m. kickoff (which, of all the kickoff times, is by far the worst. For me, the thought of tailgating at seven or eight in the morning throws intensity or "big game" right out of the window).
Whatever the issue, this game may slide past the national or even regional stage for many, but I don't get that feeling for the K-State players.
Bill Snyder has again spent the week pumping the KU fight song through loud speakers during practice. He again has stressed the high level of meaning this game has for fans to his players (and he has this team's ear, remember). He again had K-State families located in Lawrence send letters from children to his players. One family told me that each of their three children sent letters to eight different players.
Some quick match says that's 24 total hand-written notes. Overall, I don't believe there's any chance the K-State players underestimate this game. Yes, the 'Cats have a chance to go 7-0 for the first time since 1999. Yes, Oklahoma and a national audience appear to be on tap next. But, the point has been made, and this group of players has not seemed to have any issue remaining focused week in and week out.
That happens when your offense is ranked ninth or 10th in nearly every conference offensive ranking except rushing, where you're fifth, and your defense, while opportunistic, is coming off its worst statistical performance of the year (four forced turnovers aside).
There's plenty to work on, plenty to stay focused on.
That's why, even though I picked KU -1 at home officially just to keep the streak of picking against K-State going, I think KSU shows up, does work and goes back to Manhattan as one of the few remaining unbeatens in college football through eight weeks.