K-Stated

Kansas State Q&A: Barry Brown, D.J. Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, a look at next season and red hot former coaches

K-State guard Barry Brown celebrates after K-State knocked off #1 ranked Oklahoma 80-69 in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday.(February 6, 2016)
K-State guard Barry Brown celebrates after K-State knocked off #1 ranked Oklahoma 80-69 in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday.(February 6, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Anyone else notice how well Kansas State’s former basketball coaches are doing this season?

I was unaware of the phenomonon until I saw it on Twitter the other day -- kudos to Scott Paske for pointing it out -- but, man, they are all killing it.

Dana Altman is 24-6 at Oregon. Lon Kruger is 23-6 at Oklahoma. Frank Martin is 23-7 at South Carolina. Bob Huggins is 23-7 at West Virginia. And, though he was never a head coach in Manhattan, Brad Underwood is 24-5 at Stephen F. Austin.

If ever there was a time for Jim Wooldridge or Tom Asbury to try and get back into coaching, this is it.

Anyway, it’s time for another K-State Q&A. Thanks, as always, for your questions.

D.J. Johnson, and it’s not even close. The junior forward was nobody before he broke his foot in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the final commit in a two-man recruiting class Bruce Weber taped together late after being hired. He averaged 2.3 points as a freshman and 3.5 points as a sophomore, showing little more than the occassional quality play.

I thought Weber was greatly exaggerating Johnson’s value when he said the Wildcats sorely missed him last year. But I’m on board now.

Johnson plays as hard as anyone out there, and is emerging as one of the better bigs in the Big 12. Look at what he’s done the past month: 19 points and 8 rebounds against Baylor, 11 points and 7 rebounds against Oklahoma State, 11 points and 6 rebounds against Kansas, 16 points and 6 rebounds against Texas, 22 points and 9 rebounds against Iowa State. He knows how to make things happen down low, and he makes free throws. That’s the best thing about him. He’s a 70-percent free-throw shooter. You don’t want to foul him.

I pointed this out last week on Twitter, but if Johnson stays healthy he could have a monster senior year.

Barry Brown is loaded with potential, it’s all about what the freshman guard does with it. He’s averaging 9.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in his debut season, and he has flashed potential as a three-pointer shooter, draining five of them against TCU.

Moving back to shooting guard full time will help his progress when Kamau Stokes returns at point guard next year, and the Wildcats will look to him for points. He has a good shot and good handle, so he should get better with time. His biggest fall back this season has been decision making. Too often, he drives to the hoop when the path is blocked by defenders. Once he learns how to play within himself, he could make a run at all-conference honors.

Case could be made for just about anyone, but let’s go with Wesley Iwundu.

When he is at his best (22 points and 7 assists) K-State is good enough to beat a top-ranked team. When he fails to channel Scottie Pippen, K-State is average enough to lose to anyone other than TCU. He is the team’s best player, but he lacks consistency. Iwundu needs to tweak his shooting motion in the summer and become an all-around scorer. Right now, opposing defenses don’t pay him much respect on the outside. If he can raise his scoring average from 11.9 to 15, K-State will benefit greatly.

That honor belongs to TCU, which loses one senior -- reserve Devonta Abron -- and returns 62.2 points from its current roster that averages 67.

K-State returns the fourth most scoring of any team in the Big 12 with 52.1 points coming back, but it loses the second least amount of scoring. Justin Edwards, Stephen Hurt and Brian Rohleder combine for 18.9 points a game. Every other team (aside from K-State and TCU) will lose at least 22 points. That should help the Wildcats as they try to make a move up the Big 12 standings.

Here is a complete list of what each Big 12 team will return in terms of scoring:

1. TCU - 62.2.

2. Kansas - 59.3

3. West Virginia - 56.6

4. Kansas State - 52.1.

5. Texas Tech - 51.5.

6. Oklahoma State - 45.

7. Baylor - 40.1.

8. Texas 34.4.

9. Oklahoma 27.6.

10. Iowa State 25.7.

1. Kamau Stokes. 2. Barry Brown. 3. Wesley Iwundu. 4. Dean Wade. 5. D.J. Johnson.

Sixth Man - Xavier Sneed.

I think he could help K-State off the bench. He hasn’t played much this season, but when he has gotten on the floor he has shown nice athleticism.

No.

Short answer: John Currie hired Bruce Weber and wants to give him every possible opportunity to succeed. Whereas Currie didn’t hire Deb Patterson, their working relationship wasn’t all that friendly and he had little interest in giving her another year to turn things around.

Long answer: No two situations are the same. Bruce Weber has been more productive in his four seasons at K-State than Patterson was during her final four. Weber’s records are 27-8, 20-13, 15-17 and 16-14 with a Big 12 championship and two NCAA Tournaments. Patterson’s records were 21-11, 20-14, 19-18 and 11-19 with two NCAA Tournaments, but never challenged for a league title. That’s 78-52 with a conference title and an improved record in Year 4 vs. 71-62 with 11 wins in Year 4. Similar, but not identical. And Weber could still boost his record this season.

One could make a case for or against both coaches in both situations.

Currie spoke about the trajectory of the women’s program when he fired Patterson. Even though she was the most successful coach in program history, she hadn’t won a conference championship since 2008 and she never had much success in the NCAA Tournament. In his mind, the K-State women were never going to be great again under Patterson. K-State also pays Jeff Mittie significantly less than it paid Patterson, so there was some cost-saving strategy involved, too.

He views Weber and the men’s team differently.

I certainly understand why others don’t share that opinion, but Currie thinks Weber can win big again. Maybe even next year.

Too much nerves, is probably more like it. But you’re right, his shots always miss short, even from close range. Opposing defenses have learned to let him fire away from mid range, because his shot is so often off the mark. He will need to practice from that range during the offseason, or learn how to drive.

Give me the basketball team. I think both teams will be improved next season, but the football team faces a more difficult schedule. The Big 12 will be as hard as ever, and Bill Snyder opens at Stanford. The team could end up being way better than last year and still only win eight games. Bruce Weber’s team will need to learn how to win close games, but if that happens it will have the higher ceiling, especially with teams like Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas losing so many seniors.

I should pull a Bill Snyder and say “Ask me after the spring game.”

But I won’t.

The starting job belonged to Jesse Ertz before he got hurt, and no one else on the roster did anything to suggest they are ready to pass him in time for the opener at Stanford. So I’m going to go with him.

Eventually, K-State hopes to surround Snyder Family Stadium with four video boards, mirroring what will soon be in place on the north end of the stadium on the south end. But it could be a while before that happens. Haven’t heard anything about renovations at Bramlage Coliseum. I do expect some changes at Tointon Family Stadium in the near future, though. K-State has long talked about adding seats, expanding the press box and putting up a video board. That should become a priority once the soccer facility next door is complete.

As boring as it may sound, I am neutral toward Fake Patty’s Day.

Too old to participate. Too young to shake my fist. I say let the kids drink their beer and wear green shirts, so long as none of them puke in my yard.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

  Comments