There’s a reason Kansas State basketball players constantly urge Dean Wade to be aggressive.
They want him to play the way he did on Saturday against Baylor when he scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and helped the Wildcats land a major road upset. And they want him to do it all the time.
“I knew he was going to have a good game,” K-State guard Kamau Stokes said. “We had a long talk in the hotel room and I told him to be aggressive. I don’t care if you shoot every time, we need you to shoot and score, and he went out and did that.”
His play was a major boost for the Wildcats, especially early. Wade, a sophomore forward from St. John, came out firing and scored the bulk of K-State’s points in the first half. He made a pair of three-pointers, got to the basket and played like a true difference-maker.
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“It was a confidence thing for me,” Wade said. “I was open a lot, so I shot it a lot.”
It was a welcome change. Wade was stuck in a slump before Saturday, scoring a total of seven points on 2 of 12 shooting in consecutive losses to Iowa State, Tennessee and TCU.
Wade was hampered with a sprained foot during that stretch, and at times found it difficult to stay on the floor. But he has returned to full speed and played 31 minutes against Baylor.
His value was on display.
“We’ve all talked to him,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Dean is a really good player and has a lot of ability. He’s not the most confident kid … he cares too much, he worries too much. I talked to him the other day and said, ‘Worry about what you can do. Rebound and play hard and let the other stuff come.’
“It was great that he made a couple of shots, because we need him. He had the same numbers against West Virginia (13 points, 5 rebounds) and we missed that the other night. Even though Xavier Sneed had a good game (against TCU), we need that from Dean.”
Wade put pressure on himself to contribute against Baylor, placing emphasis on hard play and defense.
Though his offense disappeared during a three-game losing streak, he was most displeased with his lack of defense. He decided if he picked up his play on that end his entire game would improve.
He hopes to continue playing well, and aggressive, when K-State returns to action Monday night against Kansas.
“Coach Weber has been preaching it to me for a while now,” Wade said. “When I’m confident and aggressive, the offense seems to go more smoothly.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett