Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Barry Brown, lavender uniforms and the Cartier Diarra effect

My favorite story about Kansas State’s lavender basketball uniforms is, oddly, from a game in which the Wildcats chose not to wear them.

The year was 2010 and a K-State basketball team led by Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente was about to play Kansas in the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament. The morning of the game, I chatted with then assistant coach Matt Figger (now at Austin Peay) at the team hotel in Kansas City. He said the Wildcats had a special surprise for the Jayhawks.

They lost both regular-season meetings, wearing white at home and black on the road. But they were going to win at Sprint Center wearing lavender. Figger was very excited about this and advised me to begin crafting a lead paragraph for that night’s game story that paid homage to the uniform choice.

Back then, K-State still wore lavender jerseys every once in a while. I seem to recall the Wildcats wearing them against Fort Hays State that season. So the team had the uniforms around. It’s not like the special throwback lavenders K-State will wear against TCU on Saturday that required two years of planning. They were ready to go ... But they never made it onto the arena floor.

Along the way, someone decided the two-tone uniform wasn’t the best idea for a nationally televised game with a trophy at stake, and the Wildcats decided to wear black. Figger didn’t want to talk about it afterward. He just shook his head. K-State lost that game 72-64. Would lavender uniforms made a difference? Probably not. But we’ll never know.

K-State fans will get to see the lavenders return this weekend. If things go well and the Wildcats beat the Horned Frogs, they shouldn’t be afraid to wear them in future games, especially at the Big 12 Tournament.

Now, onto your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them!

I mostly like what the Wildcats currently wear on the basketball court right now. You can’t go wrong with gray and white at home, purple and black on the road. But I would make some modifications.

1. White: The white unis look best at Bramlage Coliseum. These should always be in the rotation. I like your idea of updating them with the cursive Wildcats or Cats on the front. I like that look better than the current unis.

2. Lavender: I think it would be fun to go all lavender a few times each year. Lots of teams are starting to wear red, yellow and green for home games, and I like the bright colors. Even the NFL is going this way with color-rush unis. You could keep the dark purple shorts around for the true two-toned throwback look. But the Cats could do more with lavender.

3. Black: Players love them, and they look good. Always good for a serious road game.

4. Purple: K-State has to have purple uniforms.

In a perfect world, you could have five uniform sets and keep gray around. But the gray look has come and gone, in my book. I would rather see white and lavender at home.

I doubt the uniform color makes much difference, but ... I am on board with Big Game Whites > Big Game Grays.

You can certainly make that argument.

With Kamau Stokes, K-State went 11-4. Without him, K-State has gone 2-1. This isn’t like the 2015-16 season when Stokes went down and the team crumbled. There hasn’t been a dropoff. The Wildcats might even be playing better.

Since taking over as the team’s starting point guard, Cartier Diarra has averaged 17 points. That’s more than Stokes was averaging (13.4). Diarra hasn’t been the same type of distributor, but he hasn’t had to be with Barry Brown taking over. That’s the biggest change. Without Stokes, Brown has turned into an alpha dog. He scored 38 against Oklahoma State, 12 at Kansas and then 28 agaisnt Oklahoma. Brown and Diarra have attacked the rim, and that has opened up shots for Dean Wade and Xavier Sneed.

K-State went from scoring 69 points against West Virginia and 58 at Texas Tech with Stokes to approaching 90 against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma without him. Those opponents don’t play the best defense, but still.

Even Makol Mawien has been solid. It seems like this team has benefited from a time-to-step-up mentality.

Stokes hopes to return in a few weeks. It will be fascinating to see how Bruce Weber eases him back into the lineup if Diarra continues to play this well.

K-State will probably play more small ball when Stokes returns, with a two point-guard look. Stokes would be the main ball-handler, but Diarra could run the show, too. That’s what I envision, anyway.

But, like I mentioned above, Mawien has been playing OK lately. So Weber could always move Diarra back to the bench and spread minutes around the two main guard positions between Brown, Diarra and Stokes. It’s a good problem to have.

I’m not sure you can say it is different, yet. We may find out on Saturday against TCU. If the Wildcats are serious about building a NCAA Tournament resume and fighting for a strong conference finish, this is a game they need to win. Honestly, the entire remaining January schedule is favorable. If they go 3-1 over their next four, this is a different team than the ones we have seen in the past.

Inconsistency has been the calling card of Weber’s teams over the years. He has led K-State to nine wins against top 10 teams, but rarely backed them up with winning streaks.

The main difference I see this time around is: Barry Brown and Dean Wade are taking over. Both players have been terrific since Stokes went down, and I don’t see that changing. They are playing consistently well, and so are Diarra and Sneed.

We will see what happens. This same team lost to Tulsa in December. We’ve seen its ceiling recently. Has it also raised its floor?

Finish 9-9 or better in the Big 12 and the Wildcats are in. No doubt about it.

Joe Lunardi currently has K-State as his seventh team out of the field. Jerry Palm doesn’t have K-State on his projection. So it has work to do. The Oklahoma win was a big step in the right direction, but they have to back it up against TCU and then other teams.

The concern would come on defense, where asking three of your starters to play 35-plus minutes can lead to fatigue in the second half of games.

K-State scored so efficiently against Oklahoma that it wasn’t a problem. Brown and Wade are used to playing most of the way, so it’s not a huge issue. But it could be an issue in future games, especially with Brown doing so much on both ends.

Ideally, you probably want Brown, Wade and Diarra closer to 32 minutes than 38 minutes. Amaad Wainright and Mike McGuirl can help in that area off the bench.

McGuirl will play more when Diarra is in foul trouble, but that seems like the only scenario right now. K-State coaches burned his redshirt, because they thought Diarra would need help at the point and only play about 25 minutes a game. Instead, he’s been great and played well over 30 minutes a game.

If Diarra continues to play this well, McGuirl will continue seeing spot action off the bench.

Well played, sir.

Nigel Shadd hurt his right knee in practice last week and will miss extended action.

If he is unable to play again this season, K-State might explore the possibility of getting him a medical redshirt. But he has already played in eight games, so that could be difficult.

I don’t make it to the theater for a ton of movies, and when I do my kids usually pick what we are there to see. So I’m not the best person in the world to ask about recent films. Haven’t seen The Disaster Artist, Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, It, The Bick Sick or Thor ... Which seem to be among the most popular movies of 2017, according to Google.

But I did see a dozen or so last year. I can give you three.

1. The Lego Batman Movie: Laugh all you want, this is the best Batman movie that’s ever been made.

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Wasn’t sure if I even liked it or not on my first viewing. So I went back and watched it again. On second viewing, I thought it was really good. Like any Star Wars fan, there are things I didn’t like about it and wish they had done differently. I would get into them, but I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Overall, it was good. And I saw it twice ... In theaters! I feel obligated to rank it.

3. The Greatest Showman: Fun story, and the songs were catchy. I saw it after a friend called it “the greatest movie of all time.” Wouldn’t go that far, but it was one of the best movies of 2017.

A few others I liked: Alien Covenant, Baby Driver, Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Fate of the Furious.

Yes, I place items in a recycling bin and pay a service to pick it up every other week. But I sometimes wonder if my trash/recycling service actually follows through. It probably does. I hope it does. My wife says I’m crazy whenever I bring it up. But it would be pretty easy to fake it and take recycling and trash to the same place. That’s all I’m saying.

Barry Brown, Kansas State -- Averaging 22.2 points, he trails only Trae Young in scoring since Big 12 play began.

Devonte Graham, Kansas -- Best player on the first-place team.

Keenan Evans, Texas Tech -- He’s the reason the Red Raiders are suddenly so good.

Mo Bamba, Texas -- Averaging a double-double of 11.9 points, 10.5 rebounds.

Not all that concerning, honestly.

He came here to play for his father, and now his dad is the coach at UTEP. The offense is sure to change at least slightly with some combination of Andre Coleman/Collin Klein/Charlie Dickey calling the shots. When I spoke to him the other day, he sounded like he was ready to get out of his dad’s shadow and start fresh somewhere else.

Winston Dimel is an excellent fullback, but the timing is probably right for him to play elsewhere. If he can play in a more traditional NFL offense at Missouri or Texas A&M or Wisconsin and help his pro prospects ... I say more power to him.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

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