March 11, 2008

Martin speaks strongly for Beasley

Frank Martin shouldn't have had to say it. But the Kansas State first-year head coach, who insists he's not a political person, simply fights for what he believes is right while a chorus of crickets continues to fill a majority of the Big 12 Conference region. For the second time in a week, a national publication nodded to Tyler Hansbrough, the blue-collar hustler in Carolina blue, instead of multi record-breaking freshman Michael Beasley as its National Player of the Year. On Tuesday, Martin made a comparison of his own.

"You take Mike Beasley and his stats and put him in a North Carolina uniform. You take Tyler Hansbrough and his stats and put him in our uniform," Martin said. "Who gets the award?"

Exactly one week after Sports Illustrated named Hansbrough as its National Player of the Year -- "March Madman," this week's SI cover screams -- The Sporting News followed suit on Tuesday. Beasley continues to collect National Freshman of the Year honors like Air Jordan throwbacks, but when it comes to handing the biggie award, the award that tops them all, to Beasley, the all-time freshman record-holder in double-doubles (currently a nation-leading 26) and who ranks third in scoring (26.5 points) and No. 1 in rebounds (12.5), there's only one thing left to say.

But …

"Not only were Beasley's averages (26.7 points and 12.6 rebounds) slightly better than Hansbrough's (23.4 and 10.4) at week's end, but they also exceeded those of Texas's Kevin Durant (25.8 and 11.1) when Durant became the first freshman to be named national player of the year, last season," SI's Grant Wahl wrote. "But Beasley's competition for the award is stiffer than Durant's was."

TSN wrote: "Beasley is an astonishing shot-maker for a player his size -- 6-10, 235 pounds -- and his ravenous hands led to some obscene rebounding totals. However, Hansbrough got the edge for a number of reasons."

Those reasons by TSN: Impact, leadership, big games, and success.

Certainly sounds like Beasley. Once, he scored 28 points in a half. Four times he posted a double-double in fewer than 19 minutes. He spent the season handcuffed to three and four defenders, but he could muscle it up as well as kill 'em with an 18-foot fade away or drill a 3-ball.

Big games? To a 19-year-old kid, the biggest gigs are always stepping up against nationally ranked giants. B-Easy averaged 27.8 points and 9.6 rebounds with 25- and 39-point performances against top-5 Kansas and 30 against top-5 Texas. He posted 10 consecutive double-doubles in the heat of the Big 12 and led a team that features six freshmen and seven total newcomers to a third-place regular-season finish in the nation's No. 2-ranked RPI conference.

There's more: Beasley has a Big 12-record 11 weekly awards and 12 other conference records. He is on pace to become the first player in Big 12 history to finish in the top three nationally in scoring (third) and in rebounding (first) in a season. Kevin Durant, the National Player of the Year last season, finished fourth in both categories a year ago. In fact, no other Big 12 player -- freshman to senior -- has been as productive in both scoring and rebounding during the same season as Beasley, whose current scoring average eclipses Durant's 25.8 mark from last season while his rebounding average also tops the list.

Martin learned of SI's POY announcement immediately after Beasley had 33 points and 14 boards in the Wildcats' final home game against Colorado on March 4.

"Most people have those numbers in two games put together and they say he's playing his rear end off," Martin said. "(Beasley) puts that up every night and he makes us think that's an average night. He's been unbelievable to coach, not because of the numbers that he puts up but because of the kid that he is."

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