Kansas State’s 87-79 loss to Iowa State was troubling for many reasons.
The Wildcats fell behind by 19 at home in the first half of a game they were favored to win, they waited until it was too late to make a serious comeback push in a game they badly needed to win and they lost in front of a lifeless and sparse crowd.
It was the type of defeat that puts a basketball coach’s future in question.
Will Bruce Weber return for a sixth season? It’s too early to definitely say one way or the other. But it will be hard for K-State to bring him back if he can’t turn things around, and quickly.
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The Wildcats have lost six of their last seven and have not looked good at all in their last two games. They remain in the NCAA Tournament conversation with five games to go. And they have a remaining schedule (at Texas, Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, at TCU, Texas Tech) that presents an opportunity for a winning streak. K-State can still play its way into March Madness and Weber can still play his way off the hot seat. But it’s not going to happen unless K-State can regain the form it flashed last month when it won consecutive games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
The next few weeks should be fascinating for many reasons.
Now, onto your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Bruce Weber and K-State were both looking good when they were sitting at 15-4 with a winning conference record and back-to-back victories over Oklahoma State and West Virginia, but losing six of seven has put the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes in doubt and Weber’s job security in jeopardy.
He now needs an unforeseen winning streak for the Wildcats to justify bringing him back.
A 3-2 finish would make K-State 19-12 heading into the Big 12 Tournament, and that could honestly be enough for the Wildcats to make the NCAA Tournament. Another victory in Kansas City would solidify things (I think 20 wins definitely gets them in) but that might not be necessary.
The bubble is softer than a pillow wrapped in silk on top of a Sleep Number mattress on setting 20.
It boggles my mind that K-State has lost so many games in a short amount of time yet remains in pretty much all of the bracket projections and still ranks in the top 30 of KenPom. I mean, its resume isn’t bad. Baylor and West Virginia are great wins and K-State has no bad losses, but it is trying to play its way out of the bracket. There simply isn’t any team out there moving up to take its place.
That’s what I think is so frustrating about this basketball team for fans. Beat TCU at home and finish off Maryland on a neutral court (or change any combination of narrow losses) and K-State is a lock for March Madness right now.
If K-State gets in, yes.
The mediocrity of the Mountain West, AAC, WCC and other mid-major conferences across the country have as much to do with K-State remaining on the bubble than what K-State is doing at the moment. He might want to pen a letter to the bottom of the Pac-12 and SEC, too.
The better question: Can K-State afford to hire Brad Underwood even if he is willing to leave Oklahoma State after one season?
Weber’s buyout is $2.5 million. Underwood’s buyout to leave for another Big 12 school is $6 million. That’s $8.5 million before you even start talking salary. That’s a lot of coin.
Yes, of course.
But it is worth pointing out there are lots of coaches out there that could come in and do worse. Weber is 95-64 with a shared conference championship and two NCAA Tournament appearances at K-State. That’s not terrible, even if the last three seasons have left something to be desired.
There’s no obvious candidate out there to target should K-State opt to replace him. And there is some concern among insiders that if K-State goes down that path it could pull a Pittsburgh, which replaced Jamie Dixon with Kevin Stallings, or a Texas, which replaced Rick Barnes with Shaka Smart, and regret it. I feel like some of that concern left the building when K-State laid an egg against Iowa State, but a coaching change doesn’t guarantee improvement. Heck, Illinois has gotten progressively worse since it replaced Weber with John Groce.
I’m a soft-shell man most of the time.
Give me the choice between soft and hard tacos at a restaurant and I am pretty much always going soft. For chicken, pork or steak it’s the only way to go. Beef is the only opportunity to switch to hard tacos. Growing up in Texas, I had many a family dinner of hard-shell beef tacos. I sometimes lean that way when I’m making tacos at home.
3. Kansas State.
4. North Carolina State.
Indiana is the obvious choice for No. 1. You could probably rank the next three in any order. This is a subjective process, after all. Illinois coaches can recruit Chicago, so that gives it the edge in my book. K-State and NC State are both good jobs at schools that care about basketball, but they have to combat Kansas and North Carolina/Duke. Missouri ranks last because of its recent struggles.
Collin Klein was one of K-State’s better recruiters back when he was a graduate assistant that couldn’t recruit off campus. I expect him to bring in players as the quarterbacks coach, rivaling Blake Seiler and Andre Coleman as the team’s top recruiters. And he replaces an assistant that spent the majority of his time focusing on player development instead of recruiting.
Klein had a fabulous playing career at K-State and it happened recently enough that his name carries weight with current high school players. Getting a recruiting call from Klein will feel like a big deal to some prospects.
Jake Waters loved working with him when he was a GA. He should be good in that area, too.
In another 10 years maybe that could become a possibility.
He’s more likely to one day follow the coach who follows Bill Snyder as coach (or possibly two or three coaches after Snyder) than to be the coach who follows Snyder.
Klein needs to spend a few years as an assistant and then as a coordinator before he (or anyone else) can realistically think about being a head coach.
Let’s stick with football topics and jump straight to your third question.
Dana Dimel will be the lone offensive coordinator and play-caller next season. After talking with a handful of former players this week, I can tell you the expectation is that will be a very positive thing for the Wildcats. Though Dimel had final say on calls when Del Miller was by his side, I’m told Dimel often deferred to Miller in obvious passing situations. Those have often been the plays fans gripe the most about out.
Dimel and Miller also occasionally discussed plays before sending the call, which occasionally led to frustrating delay penalties and unnecessary timeouts. I’m interested to see if things speed up at all with Dimel flying solo.
The Maui Invitational. Hands down.
K-State ventured on a long trip two years ago that featured games against Long Beach State, Purdue, Arizona and Pittsburgh. The Wildcats went 1-3 and got their doors blown off in the finale. The exhaustion that took place returning home and adjusting to central time was blamed for every sluggish effort for the next month.
To be fair, it does take a lot out of you to make that trip. I didn’t even play basketball in Hawaii and felt worn down after the long flight home. That next game couldn’t have been easy. But it’s not something that lingers with you for 30 days.
It always amuses me when Big 12 fans insist their officials are worse than what you find in any other conference.
They’re all pretty much the same.
Big 12 officiating only seems worse to Big 12 fans because it’s what they watch and they don’t appreciate any of the good calls they make. They only focus on the bad. Could Big 12 officiating be better? Yes, of course. But officials could be better all over. If you actually studied officials in every league, I’m guessing Big 12 refs would rank among the best.
Well, ESPN needs something to televise in that window. And every Big 12 game can’t be played at 7 or 8, unless you want all of your games competing against each other for eyeballs.
The 6 p.m. tips do hurt attendance, particularly at places like Texas, TCU and Oklahoma, where fans have to battle rush-hour traffic to get to the games. At K-State, they limit the number of out-of-town fans that can make it.
As long as the Big 12 spreads out the 6 p.m. tips so no single school gets stuck with an abundance of them, I think it’s fine. Price of doing business.
It would surprise me if K-State got back to a regional, but it’s certainly possible.
I know the Bat Cats are optimistic about the upcoming season. They had some roster turnover, but added some pitchers that could be difference-makers. The strength of that rotation could determine how the season goes. We’ll see. It will be an uphill climb. They were picked ninth in the Big 12 preseason poll, and I don’t have any reasons to disagree with that.
ESPN has them as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
That seems reasonable. If K-State can finish the season on a positive note, Jeff Mittie’s team could rise to No. 6 seed and get a more favorable draw. If they can avoid one of the nation’s top powers in the second round I think they stand a decent shot at making the Sweet 16.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett