The quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament are always fun, and today should be no exception.
We’ve got four entertaining games on tap at Sprint Center. Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State should be a high-scoring blast. Kansas State vs. Baylor has major implications for Bruce Weber (he really could be coaching for his job) and the NCAA Tournament bubble (the Wildcats might need a win to get in).
Kansas vs. TCU and West Virginia vs. Texas should be good, too. Hopefully some of you get the chance to make it Sprint Center for the action and most of you get to check in on the action while multi-tasking at work.
Now, let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Lack of depth, yes. Europe trip, no.
K-State really only plays seven guys, though Isaiah Maurice and Brian Patrick are starting to make some decent contributions. So if a single player gets hurt or fatigued, the whole thing becomes vulnerable. Even then, the bigger issues are talent, injuries and a tough schedule.
Xavier Sneed has slumped hard, and Carlbe Ervin is nothing more than a glue guy. If they could play consistently at higher levels, playing seven guys wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Of course, a lack of depth could become more damaging in tournament settings.
The Europe trip was months ago. I don’t see how that could be slowing players down today.
There are lots of things that could save Bruce Weber’s job, but I don’t think his $2.5 million buyout is among them.
It’s a large sum of money, probably higher than it needs to be, but paying buyouts is part of the game. If K-State decides Weber isn’t the guy, it will eat the buyout and start looking for a new coach.
He has faded big time, no doubt.
Since going off for 19 points and 5 rebounds against TCU on Jan. 28 he has scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds (total) in the nine games since. That’s an average of 3.9 and 1.3 rebounds.
Not sure how to explain what’s going on there. He looked so good early. The freshman wall? He’s become less of a factor than Isaiah Maurice lately.
I wouldn’t say he has to up his game for K-State to beat Baylor, as the Wildcats beat the Bears in Waco with him scoring just two points. But it would help. Dean Wade, D.J. Johnson and everyone else all have to play at high levels to make up for any Sneed no-shows.
An extension seems like a little much for Weber considering he may be coaching for his job against Baylor today.
Let’s say reaching the NCAA Tournament is his minimum requirement for earning another season. If he gets K-State in the field and it loses the first game, I don’t see an extension in the cards. If he gets in the tournament and wins a NCAA game, his first with the Wildcats, then maybe a small extension could happen. Reach the Sweet 16 or beyond, and then you probably have to give him another two years.
The only other possibility I can envision would be an extension without a raise and a lowered buyout, which he wouldn’t like.
Weber will argue he needs a contract extension to recruit, but his current contract runs through 2019. It’s not like he recruits five-star prospects. I doubt a limited contract will hurt his recruiting efforts much, if at all. Nebraska just announced it’s bringing back Tim Miles on a contract that runs through 2019. It happens.
But, again, we’re talking about a coach that still needs to prove he’s worth bringing back for another season.
The way I look at it, you could rank the K-State basketball job anywhere from fourth to eighth in the Big 12. Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma strike me as the top three. TCU and Texas Tech seem like the bottom two. The other five are interchangeable, depending on what you value.
As you point out, a good coach can win just about anywhere. Bob Huggins came to K-State with players, a plan and a coaching staff, and he passed them all onto Frank Martin. And he won.
But there are lots of coaches who have strolled through Manhattan and lost, too. Since Lon Kruger’s departure in 1990, only one coach (Martin) has won a NCAA Tournament game with K-State.
Fran Fraschilla said he ranked the K-State anywhere between 6 and 8 in the conference. Doug Gottlieb recently ranked K-State even lower on his radio show.
The Wildcats have great fan support and tradition, but so do Iowa State and West Virginia. Oklahoma State fans pack Gallagher-Iba when the team isn’t horrible.
Baylor has had more recent success. Where should you rank Baylor, K-State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and West Virginia? That one is up for interpretation. But I would call them all good jobs.
Laird Veatch and Chad Weiberg would both do fine work as K-State’s next athletic director. Those are the names I’ve heard the most from K-State people thus far, which makes sense as Veatch is the interim AD and Weiberg was well liked before he left Manhattan for Texas Tech.
You can probably cross Kirby Hocutt off the list. The K-State grad and Texas Tech AD told me last night at Sprint Center he’s not looking to leave Lubbock. But he did endorse both Veatch and Weiberg, saying they have everything K-State would want in an AD.
We will see how it plays out. I’m not well versed on the up-and-coming administrators at other schools. But the hiring committee will hear from plenty of them, and they may take a look there, too.
I will point out that tickets have sold just fine, scalpers just aren’t getting much for them on the resale market. Tickets for the early session Thursday are still expensive. That’s the one that has Kansas and Iowa State playing together. The other (involving K-State, Baylor and West Virginia) is the cheap one. Maybe that has something to do with it. Put Iowa State and Kansas on opposite sides of the bracket and tickets might be more expensive.
There are people who think he would have been the best point guard on the team had he not suffered an offseason knee injury and been able to play this year. He is seriously athletic and is loaded with upside. I’m excited to see what he can do.
If they were all tanking his popularity might be a little higher, but that wouldn’t change his record the past three seasons. So there would still be unrest.
Underwood (the chosen one, for many fans) guiding Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament this year hurts the most. Any good he does elsewhere will be viewed as something good he should have been doing at K-State, at least by some.
Martin hasn’t done enough at South Carolina for fans to be jealous of. I get the sense Huggins and Kruger have been gone long enough that their wins and losses don’t influence Weber’s popularity much anymore.
Give me 8 Bit in the Tallgrass family.
I’m a bigger fan of Boulevard. Tank 7 ranks among my favorite beers, but I like most of their brews. If it says Boulevard on it, I’ll give it a try.
Like every child, I loved the T-Rex, and when Jurassic Park came out part of that love shifted to Raptors and Dilophosaurs (the one that spits all over Wayne Knight in the movie). Can’t say I ever dreamed of growing up to be a dinosaur like the dad from Step Brothers, but I liked them pretty good.
The Diplodocus is pretty cool, too. My kids are both partial to that one.
But there’s really no bad dinosaur, is there? They are all cool.
Most saw him as a possible third-rounder before the NFL Combine, and then he posted impressive numbers at the NFL Combine. So his stock should improve. I’m thinking second round right now, but the draft is hard to predict.
I thought he was K-State’s best player last season. He was definitely the team’s hardest worker. He will help any defensive line he joins in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus, a site that knows much more about this stuff than me, listed Willis as one of their top risers at the NFL Combine, writing:
Production meet athleticism. PFF’s top-graded edge defender was also a top performer in the workouts, showing great burst and surprising change-of-direction. Even the most cynical PFF analyst looked at Willis as a guy who may struggle in certain aspects of his game, particularly turning the corner as a pass-rusher, but the workouts indicate it may be more scheme-based. Regardless of his limitations, Willis was a force off the edge for Kansas State, and the NFL now has the workouts to back up his production.
His treatments were scheduled to end earlier this week, and he felt well enough to meet with recruits at K-State’s junior day and then to attend K-State’s basketball game against Texas Tech last weekend. So all indications point to him doing well.
We will all ask him about his battle with throat cancer at the first spring practice, and he will probably downplay it in classic Snyder fashion.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett