MANHATTAN — There’s a popular new phrase spreading through the Kansas State basketball locker room.
Well, maybe “new” isn’t the best way to describe it. The phrase has been used at K-State for years. Anyone who follows the Wildcats’ football team has heard coach Bill Snyder say it many, many times.
But it is brand new to Bruce Weber, his coaching staff and K-State basketball. Players first heard it two weeks ago, four days after suffering a loss at Kansas and one day before starting their current four-game winning streak with a blowout victory over Baylor. That’s when Weber invited Snyder to address the team. Snyder offered the same advice he shares with his football players.
“He talked about not taking things for granted,” Weber said. “Push forward, believe, work at it … And then he talked about being 1-0.”
As in the only game that means anything is the next one. Every game a team has already played no longer matters. Games down the schedule can wait. For now, the team is 0-0. The only focus should be improving to 1-0. That’s the Snyder way.
It has helped him win 170 games and two Big 12 championships. The most recent one came last December near the end of an 11-2 season.
With the basketball team in pursuit of its first conference title since 1977 — it is tied with Kansas for first place with three games remaining — Weber viewed Snyder as the perfect guest speaker.
It made too much sense. K-State is trying to become the first team other than Texas and Oklahoma to win Big 12 championships in football and men’s basketball in the same academic year.
Why not ask the coach who won the last conference title on campus to help K-State compete for another one?
“The first time I asked him, he said, ‘You guys are playing too good. I don’t want to mess it up,’ ” Weber said. “Then after we lost to Kansas I came back and just asked, ‘Do you have 15 minutes to talk to the guys? We have had different guys talk to us throughout the year, but obviously the guys really respect him. He’s an icon on this campus and in this state and, really, the country.”
Weber was so impressed by Snyder’s talk that he now has a manager write the phrase “Be 1-0” on a dry-erase board before every team gathering.
“Before every practice and game we see it: ‘Be 1-0 tonight,’ ” junior guard Will Spradling said. “That’s something that really stuck in our head. Whenever you hear a figure that like speak — I mean, he’s Bill Snyder — you are going to remember a lot of what he says.”
So far, the impact has been obvious.
K-State has won four straight, and players are starting to say, “Our main goal is to go 1-0,” as if they were Collin Klein or Arthur Brown in the middle of football season. Shane Southwell mentioned the phrase before a victory at Texas. Thomas Gipson used the phrase afterward. And Rodney McGruder brought it up following practice on Thursday.
“When Bill Snyder came in and he talked to us, he told us that we need to take one game at a time and not overlook any of our opponents,” McGruder said. “That is what we have been doing a great job at, focusing at the task at hand.”
A victory at Baylor on Saturday will move the Wildcats one step closer to a conference championship. But they aren’t thinking about that. Right now, they view their record as 0-0. They want to be 1-0.
They are approaching their next game the Bill Snyder way.
“We have really followed that philosophy of being 1-0,” Weber said. “If you’re 1-0, you stay in first every time. We’ve been able to do that since he talked to us.”