Coming off a two-week hiatus, the Kansas State mailbag is back. There is no need for an introduction so let’s jump right into your questions, which this week all seem to focus on Bruce Weber. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Kansas State’s basketball coach is starting to sound like a man with a million excuses. Here are some he has used this season:
The nonconference schedule was too hard, playing Long Beach State on the road was a mistake, the Maui Invitational was too taxing, the basketball gods aligned themselves behind Texas Southern, the officials were bad and K-State players had poor body language. In past years, he has also complained about the Big 12’s schedule.
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He hasn’t pointed the finger much at himself, at least publicly, but he did take blame for the Texas Tech loss last week.
“I haven’t done a good enough job as I should,” Weber said, “and that is why we are in the predicament we are in.”
Fans always prefer a coach that blames himself instead of players (he coaches them, after all) and outside factors (he can adapt to them as coach, after all). Bill Snyder is a master at taking blame after losses and vowing to make things right. Weber hasn’t done much of that this season. It’s hard to say what players think of that, or if they even read his comments in the media.
But this Weber comment struck me after the West Virginia loss: “We finally got over the hump and took the lead. I was just hoping and praying that some good things would happen.”
That statement does not show much confidence, and it seemed to rub off on players.
Here is what Nigel Johnson said about the final minutes against West Virginia: “We fought hard. I guess that is all we could do. I wish we could have pulled it out. It’s whoever gets lucky, I guess.”
First off, apologies to the 10 other people that asked about Weber’s job security. I could not embed all of your tweets here.
Onto the question: I understand K-State fans are upset about this basketball season. The Wildcats haven’t lost five in a row or had a losing record in February since Jim Wooldridge, and their streak of eight consecutive 20-win seasons is coming to an end. That is upsetting for everyone involved. But Weber will remain the coach next season because he won 47 games, made two NCAA Tournaments and shared a Big 12 championship in his first two years.
That success, and the two contract extensions that followed, will give him the opportunity to try and right the ship. He has four years remaining on his contract and it would cost $2.5 million to buy him out today. John Currie, the man who hired Weber, is not ready to give up on him. Currie stood behind baseball coach Brad Hill in a similar situation (the baseball team went from first to last in the Big 12) and I expect he will do the same here.
Injuries and suspensions have negatively impacted this team. Under better circumstances, perhaps Weber can produce another winner next season. Maybe not. Point is, we are going to find out.
Now, if K-State continues to flounder next season, Weber’s seat will heat up.
No. I actually thought K-State’s comeback attempt at West Virginia was proof that the Wildcats are still fighting. They played hard against Texas and West Virginia and will probably play hard against Oklahoma with the expected returns of Marcus Foster and Malek Harris. The seniors on this team have experienced too much success to let the roster quit. Their problem is playing with poise in close games.
Not much, probably. The Big 12 tends to let coaches get away with one harsh officials critique per year. It’s the second critique that bites them. Even then, the punishment is usually a public reprimand.
There are many factors, clearly. The biggest issue seems to be a lack of development. Nino Williams is the only player that took a big step forward this year. Thomas Gipson is about the same. Jevon Thomas has marginally improved. Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu are less productive. Justin Edwards and Stephen Hurt are not the difference-makers they were expected to be. And coaches can’t seem to make up their minds on how to use Tre Harris and Brandon Bolden. K-State needed across-the-board improvement. That has not happened.
TCU and Texas Tech: 2014.
Texas and West Virginia: 2013.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State: 2012.
Iowa State: 2010.
Kansas State: 2003.
A question not related to basketball!
The BatCats figure to be an improved team from last year. I mean, how could they not? They aren’t talking about Omaha and their goals are much more realistic. That should help during the day-to-day grind of a season. But I would not expect this team to contend for NCAA Tournament slot. This seems like a year for building toward the future.
Another one! Kind of.
The spring game is on April 25. Season-opener is Sept. 5.