Frank Martin is very good at his job. This is important. Kansas State basketball was mostly garbage before he arrived in Manhattan, a full decade without even making the NCAA Tournament, and look at it now: March mainstay, consistent 20-win seasons, comfortably living in the top half of the Big 12.
That should be said first, the compliments right at the top, because the rest of this column is about Martin and K-State bumping against their ceiling.
K-State lost its first game of the Big 12 tournament 82-74 to Baylor in a game not nearly as close as the final score. In K-State’s defense, No. 12 Baylor would have beaten most anybody in the country on Thursday. This was the Baylor team everyone’s been waiting on. Explosive, graceful, tough. This was the Baylor team that could make the Final Four, maybe more.
The problem is where this leaves K-State.
The problem is the distinct possibility that Martin’s program will never be as good as it’s been.
The problem is that this is on the minds of many K-State fans, whether they talk about it openly or not.
Martin’s program is now a little bit like an ambitious college grad who turns into a 38-year-old with a mortgage and a job he doesn’t like. There’s nothing wrong with that life; it’s just not what was once imagined.
So if this is K-State’s place in the college basketball world — comfortably solid, but with little growth potential — is that enough?