MANHATTAN — Shane Southwell has gone from playing the best basketball of his life to hardly playing.
The 6-foot-7 senior, who can handle everything from point guard to power forward, has lost his spot in Kansas State’s starting lineup and he may not get it back. He has spent time in a walking boot. He has missed full games. And he has gone from averaging 11.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in his first 20 games to 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in his last six games.
By all accounts, it has been a disappointing month for Southwell. But he remains confident about what lies ahead.
“I just want to win,” Southwell said. “If we win every game the rest of the year and I score two points, I will be fine. It has been hard, but I think for the most part as a team we have been doing well. I have been trying to do other things in terms of just watching and giving my insight from the bench.... Just helping everybody out.”
That attitude helps Southwell talk about his prolonged slump and his injured left foot. He knows he could be doing more, but it’s not like he’s giving up.
“I’m doing a lot of things I wouldn’t normally do, like pressing,” Southwell said. “I’m normally not much of a pressure type of guy (but I am) losing the ball on simple dribble drives and things of that nature. I had a really good talk with coach (Bruce Weber). He told me to do the little things first and get your rhythm back and help the team in other ways, whether it is defending, rebounding or diving on the floor.
“It will come back to me and I will be back in a rhythm and everything will be fine.”
Finding that rhythm has been more difficult than expected. Southwell’s struggles began at the end of January, when he was held to four points against Texas Tech. He hasn’t scored more than five points since. All the while, it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
He encountered foul trouble, he turned the ball over and he missed two games with injuries.
Now he is trying to regain his old form before it’s too late.
“The way I got hurt you think, man, it might be time to start looking at other things in your life,” Southwell said. “That is probably the biggest thing that hurt me. I am doing better now. The training staff has done a really good job of helping me rehabilitate my foot. I am proud of them and myself for getting back to this point.”
Southwell has time to end his college career with a bang. K-State has three regular-season games remaining, including a 6 p.m. Saturday tip against Iowa State at Bramlage Coliseum, followed by the Big 12 Tournament and then likely the NCAA Tournament.
He can break out of his slump and improve his stats. The Wildcats certainly hope he does.
“We need to get him going and he needs a nice finish to his career,” Weber said. “... He has lost a little confidence. He wasn’t playing well. Then he got hurt. We have got to get him in the gym. That’s the only way to get your confidence back. Then you have got to get in a game rhythm. I think he is overdoing it like he did at the beginning of the year, dribbling too much and trying to do too much. He is trying make the fancy pass instead of the simple pass. That is why he was so good last year. He let the game come to him.”
K-State players think Southwell is close to a turnaround.
“He will be back to being Shane on Saturday,” freshman Marcus Foster said.
No one hopes that is the case more than Southwell, but he insists that isn’t his main focus.
“If I have a breakout game and we lose I will want to go back to scoring two points and winning,” Southwell said. “I just want to help whatever way I can.”