The way you view Kansas State’s next three basketball games may determine whether you are a pessimist or an optimist.
Much like a half-filled or half-empty glass of water, there are different ways to look at them.
A road game against No. 2 Baylor, followed by a home game against No. 3 Kansas, followed by another road game against No. 7 West Virginia is among the most difficult stretches in all of college basketball. Is it a blessing that could help boost K-State’s postseason chances? Or is it a curse that will extend a three-game losing streak to six?
“I’m telling (the players) it’s a great opportunity, and you can do something really special,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “It starts Saturday. All we can do is worry about Saturday and getting ready for them, and hopefully come out with great energy. TCU was on a four-game losing streak, came out and played special (against us). Now this is our opportunity to go down and do that at Baylor.”
K-State last faced three straight top-10 teams in 2012 (going 2-1) and hasn’t played consecutive games against teams ranked in the top three since the 1964 Final Four (losing both).
“We have a special opportunity to do something no one else has done,” Weber said. “That’s all we can do.”
The Wildcats could use a quality or victory or two coming off a a three-game losing streak. Not long ago, they were playing their best basketball and knocked off West Virginia at Bramlage Coliseum. They seemed on their way a strong finish. Then they lost road games to Iowa State and Tennessee. Then they let a late lead slip away at home against TCU.
Though they remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble, they are running out of time to make a statement.
“Every game from here on out, not just these next three games, is crucial to our NCAA Tournament hopes,” senior wing Wesley Iwundu said. “It starts Saturday with Baylor. This is a very big one. If we go in here and get a win it gives us a higher chance. If we do it the next game, it solidifies us in the conversation big-time. It’s gut-check time right now.”
The journey starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at Baylor.
Baylor pulled away late to defeat K-State at Bramlage Coliseum last month 77-68, but it was a competitive game. The Wildcats also took the Bears to overtime before losing last season in Waco, Texas.
They also played Kansas tough on the road earlier this season, losing 90-88 on a controversial layup at the buzzer. And they beat West Virginia. Those past games give them confidence they can pull off multiple upsets.
“We’ve been talking a lot about our energy from the tip,” sophomore Kamau Stokes said. “We haven’t been getting a good start for the past three games. Then, sooner or later, our energy picks up and we make a run and come back. We have to start from the jump so we’re not coming from behind most of the game.”
K-State players have also held several meetings without coaches over the past week to try and grow closer as a unit.
“It was much-needed,” Iwundu said. “We laid a lot of things down on the line that we need to do better and told all our faults and what we’re doing wrong and how we can improve as a team.”
The time is now, regardless of how you look at K-State’s next three games.
“We have to take this opportunity,” senior forward D.J. Johnson said, “and make something out of it.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett