Instead of shutting off sophomore guard Marcus Foster from media access, as he did last week, Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber needs to make himself off limits.
Some of the things coming from Weber’s mouth these days make a man’s jaw drop, such as after Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss at TCU when Weber complained about not having enough players who work hard and play hard.
“I just want guys that care,” Weber said to a group of reporters. “That is all I want, guys that care and want to play for K-State and want to play to win and will play hard.”
Apparently Weber didn’t get the memo: No Whining Allowed.
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Most of Kansas State’s players are Weber’s recruits, players he lured to Manhattan. They include Foster, who was back to spending most of the game on the bench after knocking down a huge shot during a win over Oklahoma at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday.
Foster made one basket against TCU and had that look in his eye that indicated he’d rather be somewhere else. Clearly, Weber and Foster are on different planets.
Only three players did much of anything for K-State against the Horned Frogs and two of them – Thomas Gipson and Nino Williams – are holdovers from the Frank Martin coaching era. Freshman guard Tre Harris did provide the Wildcats with a lift, scoring 14 points in 21 minutes and making six of eight shots.
The loss dropped Kansas State to 6-8 in the Big 12 and 13-14 overall. Bad is getting worse for a Wildcats team that was thought to have a chance to contend in the conference this season.
A Weber supporter might contend that sometimes teams just have seasons like this in which nothing seems to gel. Kansas State has been off for a while now and the continuing Weber vs. Foster saga has grown stale, to the point where it’s logical to wonder why Foster is still on the team if he’s such a headache for the coach.
Obviously, the reason why Foster is still on the team is because of his talent. Last season, as a freshman, he was Kansas State’s best player, one of the best in the Big 12.
The expectation was that Foster would continue to grow, but that hasn’t happened. He’s not shooting as well as he did last season and he and Weber can’t get on the same page.
The unfortunate saga has cast a poor light on Foster and made Weber look weak.
In his quest to find players who will play hard – shouldn’t that be a given? – Weber has made no promises for Saturday’s game at Baylor.
“It’s pretty simple,” Weber said after the TCU loss. “I’m not a genius, by no means. But I have coached a long time and I know what is right and what is wrong. When guys won’t compete and battle and come to practice every day.… You can’t just come once in a while and think you are going to be a great college player. You have to bring it every day.”
That’s a message delivered to kids just starting out. If it’s still in need of being preached to a bunch of Big 12 players, it’s an indicator that something more than a lack of effort is hindering the Wildcats.
Whatever it is, you wonder whether Weber is the right guy to fix this. Or whether he has lost some of the key players on his team for good.
It’s unusual for coaches to say the kinds of things Weber has been saying about his team lately, especially for public consumption. It makes you wonder what the team would say about Weber.