Monday’s post-game media session featured Kansas basketball coach Bill Self crediting the crowd at Bramlage Coliseum for helping the Jayhawks win.
It also included K-State coach Bruce Weber insisting there is no such thing as a moral victory this time of year.
But those comments were apparently the warm-up act for Weber sneaking in the words “we kicked their butt” on the play-hard chart ... Again.
I wrote about Weber’s love for the play-hard chart a few years back and asked every other coach in the Big 12 if they tracked effort plays. Most do. But few take more pride in it than Weber, who has used a play-hard chart throughout his career. He seemingly mentions it after every game.
For those wondering, K-State has gone 19-4-1 on the play-hard chart this season, losing to Maryland, Iowa State, Tennessee and TCU. The tie came against Prairie View A&M. D.J. Johnson leads the team in play-hard marks this season with 162, followed by Dean Wade with 137.
But I’m guessing not many of you are interested in such things. It seems as though K-State fans are tired of hearing about the play-hard chart, unless you have a joke about the play-hard chart.
I mean ...
Kudos to the clever human being that made that last one. I feel like even Weber might get a chuckle out of it.
Anyway, let’s get to the rest of your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
This is a good year to be on the bubble. The mid-major conferences that traditionally send multiple teams to the tournament are looking like one-bid leagues, and the Pac-12 and SEC lack depth. So there are plenty of spots available for teams like the Wildcats.
K-State currently stands at 16-8 overall with a 5-6 mark in the Big 12. If the tournament began today, I think it would be a 9 or 10 seed.
If K-State finishes with 20 victories (four more wins) it should make the NCAA Tournament without sweating. Finish with 21 or 22 victories and it is looking at a favorable seed. Finish with 19 victories and it will be flirting with danger. I could see 19 being enough, but maybe that means a trip to Dayton for the First Four. Anything less than that, and K-State being part of March Madness will feel like a gift.
Ken Pomeroy favors K-State in five of its final seven games, so it’s a manageable schedule. But the Wildcats have only won back-to-back conference games once in the past two seasons. So things appear wide open.
My rankings, from most confident to least:
1. Texas Tech: Game is at home and Red Raiders aren’t playing all that well.
2. Oklahoma State: Wildcats already won in Stillwater, and the fast-paced Cowboys are a good matchup.
3. Iowa State: Fell just short in Ames. Things could change at home.
4. At Oklahoma: Sooners seem to be snake-bit.
5. At Texas: Longhorns just beat Iowa State in Austin.
6. At TCU: Weber has never lost at TCU’s on-campus arena.
7. At West Virginia: Wildcats matchup well against Mountaineers, but few teams sweep Bob Huggins.
My guess is K-State finishes 4-3, but this team is hard to figure. It could just as easily beat West Virginia as it could lose to Texas Tech.
There’s some truth in that statement.
K-State could use more leadership, for sure. But D.J. Johnson is a good leader. Wesley Iwundu had some harsh comments that made him sound like a leader after K-State lost to Tennessee.
Problem is, no one is backing up their words up with dominant games.
What this team is really missing is not a leader like Pullen, but a playmaker like Pullen. Yeah, he famously said he wasn’t going to play in the NIT when things weren’t going well his senior year, but he also went out and lit up Kansas for 38 points and made plays to beat Texas even after he sprained his right wrist.
Nobody on this team has scored more than 23 points in a game all season. I said before the year I thought this team needed someone to average 16 or more points to truly reach its potential, but no go-to scorer has emerged.
Yes, but it has been a weakness this season.
K-State isn’t running as much motion offense as it has in recent years and the plays it rolled out against Kansas were mostly ineffective. The Wildcats are better in fast-paced games where they score in transition.
The coaching staff likes Cartier Diarra a lot, that’s for sure.
He may be the most athletic player on the team (it’s him or Xavier Sneed) and he can play both guard positions. When I watched him practice over the summer I was impressed by his ability to shoot threes and to get to the basket for dunks. He plays a lot like Sneed, he just isn’t quite as tall. It would have been interesting to see what difference he could have made this season. An extra guard would come in handy right now.
His recovery process is ahead of schedule. His knee recovered from surgery so quickly that Bruce Weber considered using him this season.
The question with him will be how quickly he learns K-State’s system and how much he improves. Diarra only started playing a few years ago and grew up dreaming of being a dancer. That kept most big schools away from him during the recruiting process. It’s possible the Wildcats got a steal with him. We will just have to wait and see.
I’m more of a “Meh” kind of guy. Put me down as a 3.
I understand why some get worked up about it. There are other, more family-friendly words to chant at a basketball game. And, ideally, people would choose to use those words. But when you’ve been to as many sporting events as I have you realize similar chants happen everywhere. And I mean everywhere. News flash: most college students like to say the F-word and the name of their rival college consecutively.
I vividly remember going to a K-State/Washington State basketball game in Pullman that ended with the entire student section using the chant against Washington (just because) without music being played or any prompting. Texas A&M’s entire fight song is a middle finger to Texas. Iowa State yells the same thing at KU when the Jayhawks travel to Ames. Baylor fans chant the word “kill” throughout games.
That’s rivalry. No one can police it.
I tend to stay up a few extra hours each Wednesday night trying to pick out the perfect gif to use with my Thursday call for questions.
My choice then goes to a K-State Q&A Gif Selection Committee for approval. If I get the go ahead, it’s up with my Tweet late Thursday morning.
It was easier in the beginning, when I would simply type “Mail” into Twitter’s search engine and select the best offering for this mailbag. But Twitter only has about three good choices for “Mail” so now I’m trying to branch out a bit, even if I rely on The Simpson’s as my go-to.
Future gif suggestions are always welcome!
K-State led the Big 12 in three-point defense last season, but Bruce Weber took that as a sign the Wildcats were surrendering too many two-pointers, so he radically changed the focus of his defense during the offseason.
The switch has allowed K-State to climb to fourth in the Big 12 in overall field-goal percentage defense (allowing 41.8 percent) but caused it to fall to last in the Big 12 in three-point percentage defense (allowing 39.1 percent).
What can be done to change this? Less help defense inside and better close outs on the perimeter would be a start. Also, identifying which players you can leave open and can’t leave open is important. Svi Mykhailiuk made a dagger three against K-State on Monday when the Wildcats devoted three defenders to Josh Jackson in the paint, leaving Mykhailiuk wide open on the perimeter. That’s not a good trade.
K-State has advanced to the Sweet 16 (or better) twice in the past 35 years, so I’m not sure why you’re choosing that as the benchmark for optimism.
But since you’ve gone there ...
The Wildcats stand a decent chance of making the NCAA Tournament this year. Given that they’ve beaten Baylor on the road and West Virginia at home, it’s possible they get that far this year. Bruce Weber hasn’t won a game in the NCAA Tournament since 2011, but it’s possible.
But if you’re really looking for a year in which K-State basketball could do some postseason damage, it’s two seasons from now. If the roster stays intact, Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade will be seniors. Xavier Sneed will be a junior. Add some extra pieces through recruiting and that’s a team with potential.
It’s not what K-State basketball should aspire to be, and given that the Wildcats recently made the NCAA Tournament six times in seven seasons local fans are going to hold the team to a higher standard than national journalists.
I think it’s that way all over.
But, to their point, even during K-State’s nice run, it was a bubble team most of the time. Michael Beasley’s team was a double-digit seed, Jacob Pullen led the Wildcats off the bubble as a senior, Rodney McGruder did the same as a junior. The Elite Eight team of 2010 and the Big 12 championship team of 2013 are the only ones that never even flirted with the bubble.
Then go back before Frank Martin and there is an 11-year stretch in which K-State fans would have loved to be cheering for a bubble team. K-State has qualified for the NCAA Tournament seven times in the past 24 seasons, so you can see how being on the bubble this year might not be considered the worst thing in the world to everyone.
But you can also see how some want more, especially given how close K-State has come in so many losses. Had K-State held on at home against TCU and won one more last-possession game (Maryland, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State) the Wildcats are sitting pretty right now, not even worrying about their postseason fate.
The final seven games, plus the Big 12 Tournament, will go a long way toward defining this season.
Then it will be up to you to decide what you are okay with.
He probably sees some of them, but he has underlings that monitor that stuff much more than he does.
Livability.com once proclaimed Manhattan to be the nation’s top college town. He likes to reference it.
So you’re saying records don’t even matter? Bob Bowlsby just comes to me and says, “Hey, Kellis, will you please seed our tournament?”
I’m up for that.
1. Kansas: Still the class of the conference.
2. Baylor: The best threat to dethrone the Jayhawks.
3. West Virginia: Clear No. 3, despite some recent lapses.
4. Iowa State: Won at Kansas. That gives it a leg up for fourth.
5. TCU: People need to stop hating on the Frogs. They’re not bad.
6. Kansas State: Only team to beat both Baylor and West Virginia.
7. Oklahoma State: Cowboys are good enough to make a run in KC.
8. Texas: Showing signs of life, despite losing record.
9. Texas Tech: Limping home, despite a solid record.
10. Oklahoma: Best last-place seed ever?
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett