It’s time for another K-State Q&A.
The NCAA Tournament is almost over and spring football is upon us. Lots of questions to get to this week, so let’s get to them. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
It is a little scary to think about K-State’s front court next season, given than the Wildcats were at their worst when D.J. Johnson couldn’t play this season.
Then again, Isaiah Maurice came on late. The redshirt freshman averaged 5.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in K-State’s final seven games. That’s not bad. The 6-foot-10 forward has upside on offense and good size on defense. He just needs to learn to play without fouling. He averaged 8.8 fouls per 40 minutes this season. That’s way too high, but much better than the 10.8 he was averaging at one point. If he can learn to keep that part of his game in check, he could be a decent starting option next season.
James Love is a wild card. He’s 6-11 and 230 pounds, which is good. He also missed his entire freshman season with a broken foot, which is bad. He could provide depth next year, but it’s probably best to keep expectations low.
There’s a reason Bruce Weber says adding a big with experience (juco or grad transfer) is K-State’s top recruiting focus. But I do think Levi Stockard, a 6-8 center from St. Louis, has the potential to play next season with Nigel Shadd, another 6-8 recruit, also adding depth.
I suppose Dean Wade could also move to the five and K-State could go super small next season. But he seems better suited as a stretch four, where he ranked fifth on the team in scoring (9.3) and third on the team in rebounding (4.5) this season. Wesley Iwundu was actually the team’s leading rebounder with 6.3 boards per game, with Johnson grabbing 5.7. It might take a committee to fill that void.
I hate to break this to you, but it would take the Team USA Olympic basketball coaching staff 50 years to return K-State to where it was in 1990, ranking sixth all-time in NCAA Tournament appearances and first all-time in Big Eight victories.
The AP just released a list of the top 100 programs in college basketball, based on top 25 appearances over the years, and K-State came in at No. 44.
Realistically, the Wildcats should hope for a coach that can improve that rating by regularly pushing for a national ranking and making the NCAA Tournament. In really good years, they can hope for a conference title or a NCAA Tournament run.
K-State has three scholarships available, and I expect Bruce Weber to bring in one forward (juco or grad transfer), one point guard and then leave the other spot up for grabs. If he finds a player he thinks can help, preferably a wing, he may sign three more recruits. But I also don’t think he will reach on the final scholarship. If he can’t find a recruit he’s high on, my guess is he will save it for next season.
Without a senior on the roster next season, this is the ideal time to add a grad transfer. It will be interesting to see if they can find one.
De’Quon Lake, a 6-10 center from Iowa Western Community College, chose Arizona State over K-State and Rutgers this week. So you can cross him off the list.
Mark Smith, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, visited Manhattan last week. But he’s got many, many suitors.
K-State coaches traveled to see Raynere Thornton, a 6-6 small forward from East Georgia State College, this week. He looks like one of the better juco options available.
That’s far from the full list, of course. K-State is casting a wide recruiting net, like always.
A little of both.
They target some big names, but mostly go after off-the-radar guys. Bruce Weber seems to spend more time recruiting than any other head coach. He’s always looking for hidden gems.
I’m betting on Alex Delton to get the start. He’s got the experience edge and he played some near the end of last season. But both will play with the purple offense, and I think some fans might be more eager to see Skylar Thompson. Based on the limited practice and warm-up time we in the media witnessed last season, I would say Thompson looks like the best passer on the roster.
Regardless, the spring game will be a fine opportunity for both backup quarterbacks to show off their skills.
I’m eager to see what Byron Pringle can do now that he’s had a year in Kansas State’s system and a year playing alongside Jesse Ertz.
He had a solid debut season, making big plays on special teams and on offense, but he didn’t really get things going at receiver until late in the year. If he picks up where he left off, especially with Carlos Strickland joining him, he could make a big jump.
Other candidates would be Ertz, Justin Silmon, Alex Barnes, D.J. Reed and Reggie Walker.
K-State quarterbacks tend to make big jumps in their second seasons as starters, and Ertz should be healthier this season, too. So that’s encouraging. On defense, Walker had a fine freshman season. Can he do more as a sophomore?
Move the game to Arrowhead? Sell the home game to Oklahoma like the old days? Use voodoo?
It’s a crazy streak. Bob Stoops and Oklahoma always seem to be at their best in Manhattan. Two years ago, the Sooners won 55-0 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, despite travel issues that left them stranded at the Oklahoma City airport the day before the game and arriving in Kansas after midnight for a morning kickoff.
They don’t play for the same reason Washington won’t play Gonzaga, Ohio State won’t play Dayton and Kansas won’t play Wichita State: no power-conference team wants to lose that game.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I would like to say I think it’s time for K-State to abandon that line of thinking and play Wichita State annually.
Scheduling good, even decent, college basketball games is more challenging than ever. Just look at K-State’s recent home schedules. Might as well take advantage of having the Shockers nearby and play a home-and-home series or even get something started on a neutral court like Kansas City. I think there’s a way you could play the game at Intrust in Wichita and have a mixed crowd there, too.
But a home-and-home would be best. K-State fans would show up to Bramlage before the end of football season to watch a game against Wichita State. I’m sure Koch would love to host the Wildcats.
I don’t see it as the lose-lose situation some try to make a game like that out to be. K-State beating Wichita State would classify as a big deal the same way it would for Wichita State beating K-State. Wichita State played Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last season, and the world didn’t end.
K-State and Wichita State used to play as recently as the Jim Wooldridge era, but (as it was explained to me) Wooldridge got greedy and asked to change the home-and-home setup into a two-for-one arrangement in which most of the games were played in Manhattan. Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said no and the series came to a halt in 2003.
There was talk of rekindling the series under Frank Martin and Gregg Marshall. The coaches used to scrimmage against each other and viewed it as a mutually beneficial game. But Martin didn’t like it when news leaked out that Wichita State won those scrimmages and John Currie once said they had a hard time selling the appeal of K-State and Wichita State to ESPN. So that talk died.
Bruce Weber mentioned having a game at Sprint Center a few years back, but decided the team didn’t need an extra challenge on its schedule. The idea of a double-header at Sprint with Kansas and Creighton, Nebraska or UMKC would be fun, too.
Still, a home-and-home would be best, and serve as a big improvement over the vast majority of nonconference games for both teams. Wish it could happen.
Man, it’s crazy how often some form of this question gets asked.
Allow me to (gasp) defend Bruce Weber’s strategy for a moment. For starters, his nonconference schedules haven’t been much different than Frank Martin’s were. In Martin’s last season at K-State, he played Charleston Southern, Loyola-Chicago, Maryland-Eastern Shore, George Washington, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, North Florida, Alabama, Southern Illinois, UTEP, Long Beach State and Howard.
Is that an upgrade over Western Illinois, Omaha, Hampton, Robert Morris, Boston College, Maryland, Green Bay, Saint Louis, Prairie View A&M, Washington State, Colorado State, Gardner-Webb and Tennessee?
Weber has played Michigan, Gonzaga, Florida, Georgetown, Mississippi, Tennessee, Purdue, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Maryland, Boston College and Washington State while coaching the Wildcats. Those are all big names. Problem is, the vast majority of those games have been played away from Bramlage Coliseum.
Add a decent game to the Bramlage slate and I feel like the schedule would look much more appealing.
But even that seems like an ask these days. The Big 12 is a different landscape than it was when it actually had 12 teams. Playing 18 conference games and the Big 12/SEC challenge instead of 16 conference games and no Big 12/SEC challenge means most coaches are dropping three challenging games that used to otherwise be on the schedule. The loss of teams like Nebraska and Colorado (easy wins back in the day) and the improvements of Texas Tech and TCU (no longer easy wins) makes it even less enticing for coaches to load up on tough nonconference games.
As boring as K-State’s early home games were this season, the Wildcats ended the year playing the nation’s 43rd hardest RPI schedule. Switch over to KenPom, and K-State faced the nation’s 10th hardest overall schedule, despite its nonconference schedule ranking of 305. Does Weber really need to make a schedule that ranked 10th nationally in difficulty even harder?
Look, as I said last week, I wish K-State’s schedule was more entertaining than it has been. No doubt, the Wildcats could be a little more ambitious. But I doubt anything changes.
Bruce Weber closed the door on all of that when he beat Wake Forest in the First Four.
I could go a few ways with this one.
Collin Klein, because it would be the first beer of his life. Bill Snyder (he prefers wine, but still) because I so rarely get to talk to him outside of a press conference. Ron Prince, because that would be hilarious. There’s really no wrong answer here.
They should bring back the tunnel dance, specifically for him.
I mean, how often do you have a professional level dancer on the roster?
The worst NCAA Tournament experience is better than the best NIT experience.
A NIT championship isn’t that far below a loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but it is still below it. Even the shortest of NCAA trips creates more excitement than the longest of runs in the NIT, especially for a power school.
That being said, TCU went on a heck of a March run. The Frogs beat Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament and then won five straight in the NIT. Jamie Dixon did a great job in his first season in Fort Worth.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett