In addition, his 19 conference wins tie Kruger and Cotton Fitzsimmons for the most by a Wildcat head coach in his first two years. K-State and Kansas are the only teams to finish in the top-4 in the Big 12 and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in each of the past two seasons.
How has he established such a reputation? There are several reasons. Too many to list, really. But Martin gave his players another reason to love him on the way out to Salt Lake City this week. Every K-State chartered flight has a first-class section, but those seats are normally reserved for coaches and administrators. I know some sports information folks who got to sit up there once on a football trip, and they talked about the experience for weeks.
“None of us would be here if it wasn’t for those guys wearing those uniforms,” Martin said. “Rather than put the old people like me in those first class seats, the ones that deserved to be in the first class seats were in them. "It was one of those early season games where, fortunately for us, the game was at our place," Martin said. "That helped us some, but it was a hard played game. It was a game that after the game, I was of the opinion that Xavier was really good. Obviously I am not a prophet, but here we are in the Sweet 16 and Xavier is playing the best basketball of the season."
Kansas State’s trip to the postseason seemed improbable after the squad started Big 12 play with four consecutive losses. However, Martin helped right the Wildcats’ ship with wins in eight of the next nine games, including six in a row from Jan. 24 to Feb. 11, as the squad became just the second in Big 12 history to rally from an 0-4 start and get back to at least .500 in league play.