Big 12 Tidbits: K-State Konfident

By David Scott - October 17, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We're not sure how much of a dark horse they can be, having placed fourth in the pre-season coaches' poll, but if there's a team that could legitimately challenge de facto No. 1 Kansas, it very well could be their arch rival, Kansas State.

A healthy Bill Walker -- who played in just six games before suffering a season-ending knee injury -- and the return of seniors Clent Stewart and David Hoskins, along with the addition of Michael Beasley and other heralded freshmen give first-year coach Frank Martin a lot of tools to work with.

"This team can be great," said Hoskins. "We have a lot of talent on this team - a little more talent than you guys actually know about. A lot of attention is put on Bill and Michael because they are great talents, but there are other players on this team that will impress people."

After a 23-12 record and three game run into the NIT Tournament last season, the Wildcats are coming off their best finish (fourth) in the league in a decade. And despite a revolving door to the head coach's office, Hoskins is convinced his senior year will be special.

"Coach Martin did a lot of the coaching last year, I'd say like 75 percent," said Hoskins, who averaged 14.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg. "So we're used to hearing his voice and him having that leadership role on the team. Any team that faces adversity, it makes that team stronger. With us losing coaches and gaining coaches and going through all that it definitely has made us strionger."

Hoskins laughed at the thought of all the coaching turmoil. "If I don't change the coach (every year), I might not feel comfortable," he said. "No, but we're going to finish first, Kansas has enough talent to come in a close second and that's prety much all I know. The rest of the big 12 is just in danger."

Walker, K-State Stud

Walker said he is as strong and prepared for this season as he ever has been in his career. His knee is feeling good and he's ready to pick up where he left off after his seaosn abruptly last season.

"I'm just going to show a complete game," he said. "I've improved my shooting so I'll be that much more dangerous on the perimeter and guys will have to guard me honest now. People fall in love with the three-ball so much, that they forget about the mid range game. I'm just going to show my 3s, my mid range, post game, defense - everything."

As for the team, Walker is not shy about his hopes for the season.

"We've got a great team and anybody can be the go-to guy on any night," he said. "We expect to win a national championship. I know that sounds crazy with all these good teams in here, but that's what I came here to do. I want to win everything and I think this team is focused on that; we've got all our guys on the same page."

He's not thinking much about the NBA just yet, he said, and the memorable harido he has (a Sideshow Bob kind of thing) is just Bill being Bill.

"I don't try to make myself marketable. I just be me," said Walker. "People can relate with someone they see as a personable guy that they can approach and doesn't act like they're above them. That's just me. I mean, I'm from Huntington, West Virgina. What do you expect?"

. . . That will do it for us from KC . Weather-permitting we're on our way home. Thanks for joining us and we'll be back with y'all (still in Memphis mode on some of my language) real soon.

Posted by David Scott at 04:21 PM on October 17, 2007

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