Here’s a statistic that goes a long way toward explaining Kansas State’s basketball struggles: none of its players have started in every game this season.
A mixture of injuries, suspensions and inconsistencies have left K-State coach Bruce Weber trying something new during many games.
Four players — Thomas Gipson, Jevon Thomas, Nigel Johnson and Justin Edwards — have made it on the court for all 26 games. That limited rotation has led to 11 starting lineups, five leading scorers and a .500 record (13-13, 6-7 Big 12).
“All year, it has been a lot of trials and tribulations,” Weber said. “It is one thing after another.”
The latest roster loss is reserve forward Brandon Bolden, who is out for the season because of a broken left wrist suffered Saturday against Oklahoma. With him relegated to the bench, K-State is down three scholarship players. Jack Karapetyan transferred before the season began and forward D.J. Johnson is out with a medical redshirt.
“We haven’t had a lot of good fortune go our way,” Weber said. “… It is just basketball, I guess.”
The Wildcats did taste some good fortune in their last game, though. The returns of top scorer Marcus Foster and key reserve Malek Harris from suspensions put them as close to full strength as their roster can be. And they helped K-State beat Oklahoma to snap a five-game losing streak.
Now, K-State hopes to turn that last-second victory into some real momentum when it heads to TCU for a 7 p.m. tip on Wednesday. Weber is undefeated against the Horned Frogs.
“Now we can go from here and get back focused on what we do,” K-State sophomore Wesley Iwundu said.
K-State defeated TCU 58-53 earlier this season at Bramlage Coliseum. The Horned Frogs are coming off an upset victory against Oklahoma State, but coach Trent Johnson is quick to separate that performance from anything that will happen Wednesday.
“We understand Kansas State is playing extremely well,” Johnson said. “Foster is back and he beat us by himself in Manhattan. We are going to have to play well and work hard for everything that we get.”
The Wildcats will have ample time to focus on TCU and their following road games this week. With a Saturday tip at Baylor after TCU, K-State has opted to stay in Texas between games. It planned to board a charter flight to Fort Worth on Tuesday and remain on the road for five days before returning to Manhattan on Saturday.
“We are doing it old school,” Weber said. “We looked at it. We would get back probably Wednesday at midnight (if we flew back). They would get to school Thursday, but then we have to get up real early Friday. We just made the decision around Christmas that we were just going to stay. I hope it is a good thing and we can stay rested.
“We have four games in 10 days here, so we just thought hopefully this will keep us a little more rested and a little more grounded.”
Rest is always good for a short-handed team, especially one like K-State. It doesn’t want to use any statistic as an excuse.
“Last year we had to fight to win when we played TCU,” Weber said. “We have have that same mentality going down there. Find a way to get a win, that is all that matters.”