Four years, four NCAA Tournaments.
That’s quite an accomplishment for this year’s senior class of Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving.
Collectively, they have a record-setting 101 victories entering NCAA Tournament play with winning seasons of 29, 23, 22 and now 27 victories, and counting.
In addition, they are in an elite roll call of players to have gone four-for-four in participating in NCAA Tournaments, where they have posted a record of 5-3. That included reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA West Regional in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2010.
“It’s huge,” Henriquez said entering the tourney. “We know it could be our last game at any moment. I know as seniors we’re prepared to play at a magic level, play hard and leave it all on the floor. I know our guys won’t quit. We’re going to do our best to not let it be our last game.”
To that, Irving added, “You have to play the game like it is your last. You just never know. You just want to go out and give your all and make sure the people that have extra years here give it their all as well. ”
Of that senior class, junior Will Spradling said, “Those guys have that winning mentality. They know how to win and they know how to prepare. They’re just winners.”
ONLY ONE OTHER FOUR-FOR-FOUR GUY:
Due to freshman eligibility and the changing of the bracket rules, the only other K-Stater to play in four NCAA Tournaments is Steve Henson from the 1990 Senior Class.
Under the coaching of Lon Kruger, Henson’s teams went 4-4, which included an Elite Eight run in 1988.
K-State’s most historical NCAA run came with four consecutive tourneys from 1958 to 1961 when the event included only 22 and 25 teams and was primarily limited to conference championship teams.
The lone three-year senior starter from the 1961 Senior Class was Cedric Price.
The four-for-four wasn’t possible until 1972 when freshmen became eligible in football and basketball.
SEEDING NO BIG DEAL:
Talk to Angel Rodriguez and the No. 4 seed K-State has received in the West Regional is nice, but as he says, “To me the seed doesn’t matter.
This is the NCAA Tournament and everybody plays at an ‘A’ game level. You are going to get the best day out of anybody you play.”
CLEANING UP THINGS FROM Kansas CITY:
Kansas State left Kansas City with more respect than ever from its Big 12 rivals.
After K-State’s 68-57 win over Oklahoma State, Cowboy coach Travis Ford said, “From the time the ball was thrown up, they brought their hard hats.”
And of Angel Rodriguez, OSU’s Markell Brown said, “He is one of the better point guards in the league. He’s a defensive pest and he controls that team. (Rodney) McGruder gets all the credit, but no one really focuses on what Angel does for his team. He can shoot the 3, but also creates for others.”
And after losing to K-State 66-49, Texas coach Rick Barnes said, “Kansas State’s really good. I mean, really, really good. I love what they’re made up of. I love the way they do a lot of things.”
Barnes then added, “I think they’re the best team in the Big 12. I do. I think they’re the best team in the Big 12.”
And on Rodriguez, Barnes said, “I think he’s terrific. I don’t think there’s a coach in the country that wouldn’t want him on their team. He has a great demeanor.”