Kansas State opens practice

With more excitement than the snug Kansas State campus has seen

in years, the Wildcats officially launched its 2010 basketball

season with three things it has never had since the formation of

the Big 12.

The crowd of about 7,000 fans, who tumbled into and filled over

half of Bramlage Coliseum for ”Madness in Manhattan” on Friday

night, were looking at the preseason conference favorite, for one.

That hasn’t happened for Kansas State since the late Jack Hartman

was coaching the Wildcats in the Big Eight about 25 years ago.

Some of the biggest cheers were for senior guard Jacob Pullen,

the preseason pick in the coaches’ poll for Big 12 player of the

year, something else that’s new for Kansas State in the


With almost everyone coming back from last year’s 29-8 team,

which advanced to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament, the

Wildcats joined such traditional heavyweights as Duke, Indiana and

Kentucky on ESPNU’s Midnight Madness.

The student section boasted nearly as many bodies as it does on

game days, and the level of noise was comparable – thanks in part

to ESPN videographers trolling the stands to capture the energy of

the Wildcat faithful.

From getting fans on the court with layup contests to

choreographed dancing between the Classy Cats and the men’s

basketball team to an artist painting a giant revolving portrait of

coach Frank Martin, Kansas State pulled out all the stops. Both the

women’s team and the men’s team scrimmaged for the fans, marking

the start of practice for the 2010 season.

Sophomore forward Wally Judge dominated the dunk contests, with

two thunderous slams that earned straight 10s from three judges.

The guards would win the overall competition, however, thanks to

the shooting of Pullen. He addressed the crowd first by saying

thank you, then said the team was not satisfied with its finish

last season.

”We know what we did last year was great and all, it was

exciting, but it wasn’t enough,” Pullen said.

He told fans this season would be even better.

”I know everybody was disappointed we didn’t make it to

Indianapolis last year, but we won’t until we get to Houston this

year,” Pullen said of the Final Four.

Before introducing the teams, Kansas State presented a surprise

to the crowd: plans for a new 50,000-square foot basketball

practice facility, described in a video presentation by university

president Kirk Schulz, athletics director John Currie, Martin and

women’s coach Deb Patterson.