It’s time for another K-State Q&A.
Let’s get right to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
This was a popular reaction after Kansas State held off Bradley 50-47 at Bramlage Coliseum earlier this week. That was One ... Ugly ... Game. The Wildcats looked bad and so did their opponent. At halftime, the score was 19-18 and even the Big Ten was laughing. But because you are looking for reasons NOT to sell your tickets, that game will probably go down as a fluke. K-State has scored well at home in its other games (averaging nearly 79 points even with that game thrown in) and its players should be pumped to play Texas A&M at Sprint Center. Bruce Weber has delivered great results in semi-home games in his first two years, beating Florida in Kansas City two years ago and Gonzaga in Wichita last year. College basketball statistical guru Ken Pomeroy projects K-State to beat Texas A&M by one. So, again, if you are looking for reasons to go to the game, there you go. Power and Light is also right next door.
One other thing to point out in all the post-Bradley pessimism: K-State won. That’s a heck of a lot better than what some other teams have done lately. Incarnate Word just beat Nebraska. New Jersey Institute of Technology just beat Michigan. Yale beat Connecticut. North Florida beat Purdue.
I would set the over/under at eight. Pomeroy projects K-State to go 6-12 in Big 12 play, so I guess I am being generous. But the Wildcats have always played well at home in conference games under Weber, and I don’t see that changing. It should win the majority of its home games, let’s say 6-3 or 7-2. Problem is, K-State is terrible on the road. Last year, its only conference road victories were against TCU and Texas Tech. But those wins can’t be counted on this season. TCU and Tech have a combined record of 15-1. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats going winless on the road. Figure they win one or two away from home. That puts them right at eight.
Iwundu’s struggles are difficult to explain. At the beginning of the season, he was held back by injury, but he came on strong when he finally took the court, scoring nine points against Long Beach State, 10 points against Purdue and nine points against Arizona. He gave K-State a big lift and the Wildcats played better with him in the starting lineup. Since then, though, he has scored a total of 10 points in four games. He hasn’t made a shot in K-State’s past two games. Weber even called him out after the Bradley game. Maybe he is trying to do too much while splitting time with Justin Edwards? He was Mr. Dependable last year. His slump is surprising. I expect Weber will urge him to focus on the small things, defense, rebounding and taking good shots. If he does that, maybe his form will return.
I wouldn’t say Marcus Foster is headed for a sophomore slump. His shot has improved and he is still the team’s top scorer. His challenge is getting his teammates involved. K-State was supposed to have more offensive weapons this year. Foster can’t be the only guy.
His record at K-State is 53-25, he has been to two NCAA Tournaments, he has won a Big 12 championship and he has signed a pair of contract extensions. Me thinks Weber will be the coach in Manhattan for a while longer.
The Alamo Bowl will be the last game for Jake Waters, Curry Sexton, Tyler Lockett, B.J. Finney, Zach Trujillo and DeMarcus Robinson, so K-State will be dealing with a lot of offensive turnover. There will be a dropoff while Bill Snyder breaks in a new quarterback and develops new receivers, but the running game might improve. I’ve heard good things about freshman Dalvin Warmack (currently redshirting) and the offensive line returns mostly intact. So you can expect K-State to lean more on the run than it currently is. But there is undervalued talent waiting to emerge at receiver. The biggest challenge will be finding a new quarterback. Can Joe Hubener step up? Will we see Jesse Ertz? Can Alex Delton contribute? It’s an unknown. Snyder tends to win 10 or 11 games when he has a quarterback he trusts. But that won’t be the case next year.
I would like to see what junior-college transfer A.J. Allen could do next season. Injuries derailed his hopes of contributing at tackle this season. Keep an eye out for Dalton Risner at center next year. The freshman has spent the season on the scout team with a redshirt, but he could compete for starting duties next season.
Deante Burton and Kody Cook seem like the top candidates. Burton plays on most three-receiver sets now, and Cook has made some nice catches this season. But I’m going to go with Judah Jones. Remember him? He has the athleticism and speed to contribute at both receiver and running back. Once he properly learns how to play within K-State’s offense, he could be a true difference-maker.