It’s time for another K-State Q&A.
Tons of great topics this week. Let’s get right to them. Thanks, as always, for your questions.
What does Bruce Weber do with Kamau Stokes when he returns to the basketball court? I can’t think of a more fascinating K-State basketball question at the moment.
Stokes should be back sooner than later, and he can definitely give the Wildcats a boost. But in what role?
There is definitely some amount of Tony Romo/Dak Prescott dynamic at play with Kamau Stokes/Cartier Diarra. Or, if you’re a Chiefs fan, let’s compare it to Rich Gannon/Elvis Grbac.
Trusted starter gets hurt. Unproven backup takes over. Team goes on a winning streak.
Barry Brown and Dean Wade have been different players since Stokes went down.
I’m not sure how K-State will handle things when Stokes returns. It’s a tough question. The team is playing its best basketball with Diarra starting at point guard. But the Wildcats also scored 91 points at Iowa State and 90 against Arizona State with Stokes running the show. They are both good ball-handlers and excellent shooters. Who do you start?
In the short term, it appears the answer will be simple. Diarra will continue starting until Stokes regains his stamina and returns to 100 percent.
“It would be nice to have his experience and use him a few minutes here and there until he gets back into shape,” Weber said Thursday.
After that, it could be a delicate situation. I’m sure both players feel like they should start. The good news is, unlike football, K-State can play both point guards. And when it goes small, there are even more minutes to spread around. Brown and Diarra could play less, Stokes could play more and the Wildcats can go back to using Brian Patrick, Mike McGuirl and Amaad Wainright when needed.
I doubt Weber looks at Stokes’ return as a negative. He’s a great shooter. And if Brown, Diarra and Stokes can all play well together, K-State will have a very dangerous small lineup.
This seems to be a common question from K-State fans right now, at least from the portion that doubt Weber.
I don’t want to tell anyone how to be a fan. I loathed Jurgen Klinsmann as the USMNT coach and always expected bad results during the later part of his tenure. Even when the team played well, I viewed it as fool’s gold. If you feel that way about Weber, it’s not going to be easy to expect another Big 12 championship until it happens.
But you’re looking for reasons to jump on board so ...
This team genuinely is playing well, and Weber has done a remarkable job coaching this month. When Stokes broke his left foot, it seemed like a major setback. Instead, the Wildcats responded by winning four of five to climb into second place of the league standings. And they have played eye-pleasing basketball along the way.
K-State is not slowing down games and winning ugly. This team is playing with energy and scoring at an impressive rate. Brown and Wade have been phenomenal. Would you believe they have scored nearly as many points together in their first eight Big 12 games (344) as Michael Beasley and Bill Walker (348) did in their lone season together? Or that they are way ahead of where Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente (269) were when K-State went to the Elite Eight?
The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in shooting percentage (conference games only) and have been fun to watch. They haven’t trailed since falling behind by one late in the first half against Oklahoma three games ago, and that was only for a few seconds. With all this winning, Weber hasn’t even said anything cringe-worthy at press conferences.
Brown says K-State is good enough to win the Big 12, and that’s hard to argue at the moment. This is the best I can remember K-State playing since Pullen caught fire at the end of the 2010-11 season and it won six straight against No. 1 Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, No. 20 Missouri, No. 7 Texas and Iowa State.
It might not last forever, but it certainly seems like Weber and the Cats have found some consistency.
It’s more fun to wonder how the fan base will react to three more wins.
Some Weber naysayers are already starting to warm up to this team, and I think K-State beats Georgia and KU at home. Not seeing a win at West Virginia, but if the Wildcats get all three they will be in first place and potentially the favorite to win the Big 12. What will there be to complain about?
Probably not. Yes.
The craziest part about K-State’s surge up the Big 12 standings since losing Stokes is that the Wildcats have turned into cold-blooded snipers on offense. In eight conference games, the Wildcats lead the Big 12 in field goal percentage (50.6) and three-point percentage (42.6). And they top second place by a significant margin in each category.
K-State carved up Baylor’s zone like a butcher, with Brown, Wade and company swishing open looks from all over. I mentioned this the other day, but it really is amazing to think this is the same team that couldn’t buy a basket against Tulsa.
The Wildcats are scoring more efficiently than any time I can remember. If this was NBA Jam, they would be on fire. It’s probably unfair to expect that level of scoring to continue. But I also doubt K-State goes ice cold in any more games.
Since you asked, let’s say K-State continues making more than half its shots and 42 percent of its threes. Will it win the Big 12? Yes. The Wildcats might not even lose many more games.
They say once a coach is on the hot seat he never truly gets off it, but Weber isn’t feeling much heat at the moment.
He will almost certainly be back with another NCAA Tournament appearance, but he needs to win at least one game there to sell momentum. Weber, you may recall, hasn’t taken a team to the round of 32 since his days at Illinois.
It probably started a year or so ago when one of my friends began sending out GIFs instead of text messages. I have a group text going with my best friends from high school, and once this particular friend started including GIFs our conversations stopped being about words and started being about humorous graphic images that we recognized from old TV shows and movies.
By the way, they are pronounced GIFs. Not JIFs. Get it right, people!
I spent so much time giggling at those GIFs that I decided to use them on Twitter. Initially, they were simply a way to liven up dull K-State games against teams like Central Arkansas and Northern Arizona and UC Irvine. When my followers didn’t (all) hate them, it turned into a regular thing.
They lose impact against teams with boring mascots and can be a distraction in really big games. But I still think they are funny, so I’m going to keep throwing them on my Twitter feed until they no longer amuse me, something better comes along or my boss demands I stop. Knowing him, that day might be coming sooner than I think.
My favorite basketball GIF:
My favorite football GIF:
Also, this one is pretty awesome:
I agree a throwback game at Ahearn would be fun. Lavender uniforms, old arena, no AC ... I can picture it now.
It’s not going to happen, because playing a game there would make for a logistical nightmare. But it is fun to think about it. I could maybe see playing an exhibition game there. Or, like you said, an early season game to excite fans. No way you could do it for a Big 12 game.
Not looking good.
K-State had plenty of opportunities to blast Sandstorm during the OU and TCU games, but decided to roll with Mortal Kombat and Zombie Nation. Maybe they will surprise fans with it at the KU game. Then again, the K-State band stopped playing “Wabash Cannonball” to prove a point at the football stadium last season. Here’s guessing the athletic department stays away from anything related to The Chant.
But I really don’t know. The last time they played everyone’s favorite timeout song, it was because John Currie made an executive decision in the middle of a game to play it. Could always happen again.
Good question. Let’s break it down game-by-game.
1. Texas Tech beats South Carolina. The Gamecocks have played well lately, and the Red Raiders have not. But Texas Tech is the better team.
2. Florida over Baylor. Not impressed with the Bears right now. Doubt they beat a ranked team on the road.
3. Texas thumps Ole Miss. This looks like one of the worst games of the series.
4. Kansas State stomps Georgia. Ken Pomeroy favors the Wildcats by seven. K-State could win fairly easily.
5. Oklahoma over Alabama. This might be one of the better games of the day. Could see Bama pulling the upset, but I’m picking OU.
6. Tennessee wins at Iowa State. Rick Barnes has struggled in this series, but he did beat K-State last year.
7. TCU beats Vanderbilt. Having seen both teams in person, I’m definitely picking the Frogs.
8. Kansas over Texas A&M. The Aggies ran West Virginia out of the gym early, so you never know. But KU should win.
9. Arkansas takes down Oklahoma State. The Razorbacks at 10-1 at home, and the game is in Arkansas.
10. West Virginia beats Kentucky. Best game of the day. Should be a good one, with the Mountaineers winning close.
My prediction: Big 12 wins the challenge 7-3.
I expect Andre Coleman’s offense to look different from Dana Dimel’s offense. I can’t say for sure how different it will look right now, but I’m guessing there will be moderate changes.
Coleman, a former NFL receiver, is more of a player’s coach and a spread guy. So K-State fans will probably see more passing and carries for running back than QB keepers.
But Bill Snyder’s teams have been using a wildcat-formation style offense with its main quarterback since the Michael Bishop era. It’s what Collin Klein ran when he played here and it’s what Alex Delton is really good at ... so that’s not going to completely disappear from the offense. I do think you will see less of it, though. And that’s a good thing.
I am cautiously optimistic K-State’s offense will modernize and improve with Coleman calling the plays.
Charlie Dickey and Collin Klein will be there to help him gameplan and offer suggestions, but they won’t be a committee. Their co-offensive coordinator titles are just titles, as far as I understand it. Coleman was the passing game coordinator last year, and Dimel still called all the plays. I expect them to have a strong working relationship. They get along great, by all accounts. But they aren’t all three true coordinators.
Geary said during the season that he wanted to take a shot at the NFL, so I assume that’s what he is doing. Haven’t talked to him about it, so I don’t know for sure. He was a monster in the middle of K-State’s defensive line, so he will get some looks. What he needs is an impressive pro day to show he can measure up with bigger, faster NFL defensive tackles.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett