It’s time for another K-State Q&A. Lots of great questions this week. Let’s dive right in.
I lack the time and desire to comb through the record books of every Power 5 conference to find this stat, but I can tell you simply by looking at Big 12 records that it is a rare feat. Not many coaches have gone the wrong direction for that many consecutive seasons. Most get fired before getting the chance.
Here is the lone example I found: James Dickey had quite the disastrous run at Texas Tech, going from 14-0 in his final season with the Southwest Conference to 10-6 in the Big 12, followed by 7-9, 5-11, and 3-11. He made it one more season, going 3-13 again. That’s five straight seasons without an improved conference record.
Bruce Weber has come close to doing it twice. K-State can do no better than seven conference victories this season, meaning Weber has gone from 14-4 to 10-8 to 8-10 and now 7-11 or worse in the Big 12. His first season improved on Frank Martin’s final 10-8 conference mark, but this is three straight seasons going the wrong way. Another slide next year would get him in the club. The same thing happened to him at Illinois, where his Big Ten record got worse in each of his final three seasons, going from 11-7 to 10-8 to 9-9 and 6-12 the year he was let go.
There were a few other close calls:
▪ Colorado coach Ricardo Patton came close during his extended troubles at Colorado, going 11-5 in his debut 1996 season and dropping off to 7-9, 7-9, 7-9, 5-11, 5-11 before rebounding for a NCAA Tournament trip in 2003 and a 10-6 conference record in 2004. He was let go in 2006.
▪ Barry Collier lasted six seasons at Nebraska without winning more than seven conference games, going from 7-9 to 6-10 to 3-13 before bouncing up to mediocre levels.
▪ Greg McDermott went 6-10, 4-12, 4-12, 4-12 at Iowa State before jumping to Creighton.
▪ Quin Snyder had a slow decline at Missouri, going 10-6, 9-7, 9-7, 9-7, 9-7, 7-9 and 5-11.
▪ Kansas went four seasons without improving its conference record from 2002-05, going 16-0, 14-2, 12-4 and 12-4 before moving up to 13-3.
In all likelihood, he will get another season to try and turn things around. But the pressure will be on.
If K-State misses the NCAA Tournament again next season, the Wildcats should let him go.
The potential is there for a big leap forward next season, and that’s why Weber will likely be given another year.
K-State is 13-8 with a healthy Kamau Stokes and 2-5 without him. Getting him back into the starting lineup will help. If Dean Wade improves, if Barry Brown gets better, if Wesley Iwundu can find offensive consistency and if D.J. Johnson can stay healthy Weber will have a nice core to build around while other teams in the Big 12 will be trying to replace major pieces.
I know that’s a lot of ifs, and Weber hasn’t done the greatest job developing players, but the Wildcats aren’t that far away from the NCAA Tournament now, and the only consistent contributor they’re losing is Justin Edwards.
Xavier Sneed will need to contribute right away, and Cartier Diarra will need to help off the bench, but K-State could be much improved at this time next year. If not, it will be time to see what another coach can do.
People are reading too much into Wade’s slump.
At this time last year he was playing against people half his size at St. John. You don’t effortlessly become a college basketball assassin coming in from a tiny high school in Kansas. I’m not sure why Wade is so hesitant to shoot, because his teammates won’t shut up about how good he is in practice. Freshman or not, he should be more aggressive. Still, he has done way more than expected. He’s averaging 9.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. That’s better than what Perry Ellis and Buddy Hield gave their teams as freshmen. He has serious potential.
The funny thing about this question is that K-State played its best basketball under Bruce Weber when he asked Bill Snyder to speak with the team during the stretch run of 2013.
Snyder preached to the basketball team about going 1-0 every day, and the Wildcats listened, ripping off enough wins to share a conference championship with Kansas. Weber had a long list of guest speakers address his team that season. I seem to remember him even inviting super fan Robert Lipson into the locker room at one point.
Maybe it’s time to arrange another visit from Snyder.
The odd thing about K-State’s finishing issue is that it won close games early. When Dean Wade hit the game-winner at Georgia and when K-State held off pesky opponents like South Carolina State and Colorado State, I genuinely thought they knew how to close out games. Then conference play started and that went out the window.
My belief is that they need a go-to scorer. The lack of one hurt on the final play against Texas. Barry Brown brought the ball up court and had no idea where to pass. D.J. Johnson was open under the hoop. Justin Edwards was ready to take the ball on his left. He went to Wade, and the first thing Wade does is look to pass. They would be better off just getting the ball to Edwards or Wesley Iwundu and letting them create. At least they want the opportunity.
I would also recommend Weber show his team the following clip from “The Fast and the Furious.” This team has had so many close calls they remind me of Brian O’Conner telling Dominic Toretto “I almost had you.” Vin Diesel put him in his place.
Point guard is out for the season, Austin Budke is a regular contributor off the bench, Dean Wade is terrified to shoot, Wesley Iwundu can’t string two good games together, no one plays with poise, Bruce Weber can’t coach against a zone defense ... I could go on, but I’d rather think about 80’s movies like Back to the Future, Ghostsbusters, Aliens, Major League and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Shiner Bock, whiskey, sangria, Dr. Pepper, blue Gatorade.
Hard to say without seeing at least the spring game first, but for now I’m guessing K-State goes 7-5 in the regular season. The Wildcats will play five conference road games next season, but I think its Big 12 schedule will be easier than it was a year ago. Getting Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home could really help. K-State also tends to play Oklahoma better in Norman, for whatever reason.
Of course, I make that prediction expecting K-State to lose at Stanford. Should it win that game, as you suggest, that would make me feel differently about games at West Virginia and TCU. If the Wildcats are good enough to beat Stanford, they will be good enough to make a run at 10 wins.
I’m not sure you want to rely on one running back anymore. I mean, how many every down backs are there in the NFL? Sure, you want a running back good enough to handle every carry, but you need a complementary player to lighten the workload.
That being said, Charles Jones looked like he had the makings of a primary running back during the second half of last season, reeling off good games against TCU, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State. I also liked what I saw from Dalvin Warmack in the Liberty Bowl.
I think Justin Silmon has the goods to be a lead back, too, I’m just not sure what held him back last season. He went off against Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma State, then completely vanished. Most seem to think he needs work learning the playbook. Hopefully he catches up in that area, because he could be fun to watch as a starter.
Dante Barnett will instantly improve K-State’s secondary, possibly by a huge margin.
The Wildcats played musical chairs at defensive back last season, producing mostly disappointing results. Barnett was supposed to be the team’s top defensive player last season and an all-conference candidate. Without him, the secondary struggled. With him, this should be a vastly improved unit.
I like the sound of Dante Barnett and Kendall Adams at safety. And Duke Shelley was dynamite at corner as a freshman. If Cal transfer Cedric Dozier makes a smooth transition at the other corner slot, it won’t be nearly as easy to throw on K-State next season.
If a staff change was going to happen, it would have happened by now.
The coaches you mention all spoke enthusiastically about building toward next season and coaching healthy players during spring practices when I last spoke to them.
I’m not optimistic either will happen, but it would be fun to have a dog at games. So let’s say Boscoe.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett