Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Bill Snyder, Justin Hughes, basketball and the best Tex Winter tributes

Before we get to your questions, I would like to point out how cool it was to see the basketball world show so much respect to Tex Winter following his death earlier this week.

Winter obviously accomplished a ton during his coaching career. He invented the triangle offense, guided K-State to two Final Fours and teamed up with Phil Jackson for NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. Winter is a coaching legend in Manhattan.

But it was neat to see people outside the K-State circle recognize all he did for the game.

Here were some of my favorite Winter tributes on social media:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">My mentor. I sat with Tex &amp; watched every minute of every game during our 1st season together. He taught me how to study every detail. He was a bball genius in every sense of the word. I’ll miss him deeply. Thank you Tex. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Rest In Peace. <a href="https://t.co/qgjPgP7K95">pic.twitter.com/qgjPgP7K95</a></p>&mdash; Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) <a href="https://twitter.com/kobebryant/status/1050248033332416512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Tex leaves a helluva legacy behind. Student of the game. Hall of Famer. 9 NBA championships as a coach. He taught me how to become a better offensive player. How to be patient on the floor. How to take criticism. How to win. Thank you, Tex. Rest In Peace. <a href="https://t.co/aFKRr23ewZ">pic.twitter.com/aFKRr23ewZ</a></p>&mdash; Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) <a href="https://twitter.com/ScottiePippen/status/1050227573878337536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A few words about someone who made a far bigger difference in your life than you probably realized. <a href="https://t.co/SeTMiXyDPv">pic.twitter.com/SeTMiXyDPv</a></p>&mdash; Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) <a href="https://twitter.com/Espngreeny/status/1050390336969826305?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

And now, it’s time for another K-State Q&A.

Thanks, as always, for asking so many great questions.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We’re in a parallel universe, and traveled far into the future... It’s the year 2018 and Bill Snyder has just led the Kansas State Wildcats to a 9-4 season after winning the Texas Bowl... Is this his GREATEST season ever?</p>&mdash; dan youngman (@danyoungman) <a href="https://twitter.com/danyoungman/status/1050423221634260992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I don’t know about greatest season ever, but if Bill Snyder guides this team to six straight wins and then a bowl victory it will definitely go down as his finest in-season coaching effort.

For the record, the odds of that happening seem pretty close to zero. I think this team is more likely to finish 2-10 than 9-4. Then again, maybe Snyder was just setting himself up to win Big 12 Coach of the Year with a late winning streak.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">2 questions 1, with a new soccer facility being built, can we expect there to be a men’s program to develop? 2, if the cats lose to okie st, should they start playing freshmen down the stretch to gain experience using the 4 game rule to build for the future, benching seniors??</p>&mdash; Curtis Dawson (@lunchbox_77) <a href="https://twitter.com/lunchbox_77/status/1050490657465221120?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

We’re covering both ends of the spectrum this week.

1. Not a chance. As much as I would love to see men’s soccer at K-State and other Big 12 schools, it’s never going to happen.

2. I, too, have pondered this question. If K-State can’t get things turned around this season, would the Wildcats be better off benching their seniors and playing freshmen to build for the future?

For now, I think the answer is no. Even with a loss to Oklahoma State, K-State will remain mathematically alive for a bowl. Teams are making the postseason now at 5-7. Beating KU at home will also be important, regardless of K-State’s record. Snyder will probably want to put his best team on the field for the Sunflower Showdown. After that, it’s senior day against Texas Tech. He will probably want to play his seniors for that game, too.

The only game I could see K-State going all-in on building for the future would be the season finale at Iowa State. If the Wildcats have nothing but pride to play for in Ames, then going young will be something to consider.

Until then, though, it’s awfully hard to tell seniors that have worked for four and five years that you’re giving up on them ... Even if it will help in the long term. Maybe they can work to get some young bodies on the field for short amounts of time as the season goes on. That makes sense. But I don’t think we’ll see youngsters starting anytime soon.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who would win 2004 Kstate or this years team in football</p>&mdash; Austin (@IamAustinMcCain) <a href="https://twitter.com/IamAustinMcCain/status/1050443776089452545?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Tough call. The Wildcats went 4-7 in 2004. And this team seems on pace for 4-8 in 2018. That would probably be an evenly matched game.

I will give the 2004 team a slight edge. Darren Sproles is the tiebreaker.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Does the outcome of the 2018 season impact whether Snyder returns to the sideline in 2019?</p>&mdash; jmccarty1982 (@McCarty1982) <a href="https://twitter.com/McCarty1982/status/1050422813218213889?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

My opinion on Snyder’s future remains the same as it has always been. As long as the Wildcats are winning and he’s in good health, he’s going to keep coaching. But if the Wildcats start losing he will consider retirement options.

The first time Snyder decided to retire, he did so after back-to-back losing seasons. Past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, so if this season gets ugly that will be something to monitor.

I wouldn’t go that far.

Is it even possible for K-State fans to turn on Snyder?

Fans are frustrated about a 2-4 start that lacks a victory over a power-conference team, but no one is booing the football coach at games or flying words over the stadium asking for his dismissal. Bruce Weber was in much hotter water two years ago.

There is unrest about the trajectory of the football program and a complete lack of succession plan for whenever the Snyder era ends. But I still hear from fans that think this season can, and will, be saved.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I can &quot;somewhat&quot; understand some of the defensive confusion given the DC switch this year (shouldn&#39;t still be this bad six games in, but whatever), but what is the deal with the poor tackling? Was it this bad last year and I just don&#39;t remember? Last weekend was painful to watch.</p>&mdash; Justin Nutter (@JNutter) <a href="https://twitter.com/JNutter/status/1050432851932565504?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

K-State had more missed tackles (23) and allowed more yards after contact (171) against Baylor than in any other Wildcats game I can remember. You can read a full breakdown of the problems here. It was ugly.

Still, it’s a difficult issue to explain.

K-State is banged up on defense. That’s a good place to start. Elijah Sullivan and Walter Neil didn’t play against Baylor. Sam Sizelove, DaQuan Patton, Duke Shelley, Kendall Adams, Denzel Goolsby and A.J. Parker all needed breaks against Baylor. At one point, the Wildcats put Daron Bowles on the field and no one on press row recognized his number.

I have had to consult the roster a few times this year to keep up with all the substitutions.

Missed tackles are bound to happen when you’re going that far down the depth chart.

At the same time, no one seems to tackle with the same technique. Eli Walker flies in like a missile, while Justin Hughes relies mostly on his arms.

I like a lot of what Blake Seiler has done so far as defensive coordinator, but there’s not a ton of talent at his disposal. Fans naively thought they would upgrade at linebacker, because Trent Tanking and Jayd Kirby weren’t the most athletic players in the Big 12 last season. But they were way underrated and combined for 196 tackles.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">How do you think Justin Hughes graded out on this play during film review? <a href="https://t.co/6hQbUyel90">pic.twitter.com/6hQbUyel90</a></p>&mdash; Eric Janzen (@E_Janzen) <a href="https://twitter.com/E_Janzen/status/1050436534242082821?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I’m guessing pretty low.

Just in case anyone is having trouble viewing the screen shot attached to Eric’s question, here is an enlarged version:

JustinHughes.jpg
Screen shot

As you can see, Hughes is focused on the sideline as Baylor prepares to snap the ball and push for the end zone. That’s ... sub-optimal.

A former K-State player texted me seconds after that play to point out where Hughes was looking and then proclaimed “this defense did not come ready to play.”

Overall, Hughes was a hard player to grade against Baylor. He ranked second on the team with 11 tackles and he also forced a fumble. He was usually in the right place. He did a lot of things right. Not bad for a linebacker making his first career start. But he also missed a team-high six tackles, including the biggest whiff of the game.

I think he played well, all things considered. You can’t expect perfection from a backup. If he can correct a few of those mistakes he could really help the Wildcats during the second half of the season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Are the Cats going to be favored in any game the rest of the season?</p>&mdash; Kaden (@LittrellyK) <a href="https://twitter.com/LittrellyK/status/1050422411341025280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Really? You’re going to ask me that question when K-State has a home game against Kansas still on the schedule?

Yes, K-State will be favored at least once more this season. SB Nation stat guru Bill Connelly has the Wildcats favored by 5.8 points in that game. Me thinks Vegas will have a similar line.

Now, will K-State be favored in any other game remaining on the schedule? That’s the better question. Connelly says no (he actually has the Cats as at least two touchdown underdogs in every other game) and I agree. I consider Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Iowa State all as toss-up games. But I would certainly not favor K-State in any of those matchups.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We have some big recruits on officials this weekend. How much of an impact does our football &quot;turmoil&quot; make on these and other recruits?</p>&mdash; Wildcat_Jeff (@Snyder_cat) <a href="https://twitter.com/Snyder_cat/status/1050442801052299265?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Not much, probably.

Yes, football recruits like winning teams more than losing teams, but there is so much that goes into those decisions. Sometimes seeing a team struggle for a few games can make a recruit realize they can play right away and that makes them more interested in the school.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Basketball question. Give us a rough outline of how you see K-State’s rotation coming together from a minutes perspective. Can use the time gram of earlier in the season or later in the season.</p>&mdash; The Short Side Option (@TSSO_Podcast) <a href="https://twitter.com/TSSO_Podcast/status/1050429956164112384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Let’s break the roster down into minute tiers. That seems easier than pulling out a calculator and giving each player an exact time allotment.

30-35 minutes: Barry Brown, Xavier Sneed and Dean Wade.

These are the three K-State basketball players who will be on the court the most. Wade may get the most rest, because of his history with foot injuries. And Brown could see more action, because he’s capable of playing entire games. Sneed will need breathers, because he exerts so much energy on defense, but he won’t come out long.

20-30 minutes: Kamau Stokes, Cartier Diarra.

Stokes and Diarra will both see lots of action.

15-25 minutes: Makol Mawien, Austin Trice.

Foul trouble will dictate how long these forwards play in each game. K-State’s ability to go small could also cut into their minutes.

10-20 minutes: Mike McGuirl, Levi Stockard.

Weber says McGuirl is playing well in practice, and I think he will end up on the higher end of this tier. Stockard seems like the best forward behind the top three. He will see minutes, too.

5-10 minutes: Shaun Neal-Williams, James Love.

They could both help on a consistent basis.

Garbage time: Everyone else.

Hard to see the rotation going any deeper than 11. But maybe?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who gets their next win first? Volleyball, soccer, football or men&#39;s basketball?</p>&mdash; Ahearn Alley (@AhearnAlley) <a href="https://twitter.com/AhearnAlley/status/1050422773590310912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

This is sadly a hard question.

The football team will have a decent shot to beat Oklahoma State, but if it loses this weekend Bill Snyder’s team may have to wait until KU on Nov. 10 to win again.

That would give volleyball, soccer and even men’s basketball enough time to land in the win column.

My money is on volleyball. Surely they will knock off someone in the Big 12 soon.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Will there be a way for out of state K-State fans to watch the Madness in Manhattan festivities? Will the athletic department be streaming it?</p>&mdash; Evan Woolsoncroft (@FortWorthEvan) <a href="https://twitter.com/FortWorthEvan/status/1050448183824920578?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 11, 2018</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Unfortunately, no. The event will not be streamed online.

But I will be courtside providing updates, commentary and maybe some video highlights on Twitter. I’m planning to have a full breakdown of the dunk contest on this very website tonight.

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