Campus Corner

K-State Q&A: Dean Wade, Cartier Diarra, Bruce Weber’s future and bubble banter

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

Lots of great questions to get to this week, so let’s dive right in. Thanks, as always, for your participation.

Not that I am aware of. K-State coaches are still monitoring Kamau Stokes’ minutes to make sure he doesn’t push his body too far and re-injure his left foot. It seems unlikely they would start a guy on a pitch count (baseball metaphor) over a healthy Cartier Diarra.

But it’s not that crazy of an idea.

Stokes has only had one good game since returning from injury and Diarra hasn’t been able to duplicate the numbers he produced with Stokes out of the rotation. Maybe a switch would help them both get back on track.

I’m not totally sure what to make of Diarra’s slump. He averaged 12 points and 3.4 assists with Stokes watching in street clothes, but his production has slipped considerably since Stokes returned to the rotation. They don’t play together all that much, and Diarra has started every game, so they shouldn’t be throwing each other off.

All I can think of is that Diarra felt the Matthew Dellavedova Rush and played with reckless abandon with Stokes out of the lineup, knowing that if he didn’t step up the team was going to lose. Now that Stokes is back, it’s possible he lost some of that motivation. And Stokes clearly isn’t 100 percent.

K-State hoped to have the equivalent of six starters when Stokes returned, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Against TCU, the Wildcats got so little from their point guards it felt like they only had four starters.

Let me start by saying K-State fans need to cheer for the Wildcats to beat Baylor on Saturday. Every Big 12 team with a winning conference record has made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, and every Big 12 team with 10 conference wins has made the NCAA Tournament since 2007.

The Wildcats probably lock up an at-large bid with a win (though K-State was the unlucky team that missed out in 07 and 09). Beat Baylor (a win in KC would also probably be enough) and they won’t have much to worry about in the other conference tournaments.

But they will be sweating if they lose their next two games.

If that happens, K-State fans will be rooting for the following teams: Loyola-Chicago, Rhode Island, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, New Mexico State and Middle Tennessee State. The last thing the Wildcats need is extra teams from the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10, WAC, WCC or Conference USA getting in.

They might also want to root against Nebraska, Washington, UCLA, Alabama and St. Bonaventure.

It’s possible K-State has already done enough to earn a return trip to Dayton for the First Four. The Wildcats can finish no worse than fifth in the Big 12 standings, and a 9-9 conference record has been good enough to get teams into the Big Dance in recent years.

But I have my doubts.

K-State’s RPI (62) is not good. Neither is its strength of schedule (92). Ending the season on a four-game losing streak would be a bad idea. Beat Baylor and the Wildcats are probably in. Beat Baylor and win a game in KC and they are a stone-cold lock. Anything less keeps the NIT in play.

Barry Brown and Dean Wade are already two of the best basketball players in the conference. If they return and Xavier Sneed improves and Kamau Stokes gets healthy, and Cartier Diarra develops and Makol Mawien learns to score/rebound the Wildcats could challenge for a Big 12 championship. They should, at least, be picked to finish in the top three or four.

The Wildcats need better production inside and more consistency at point guard.

If they can add or develop a rebounder and figure out a way for Diarra, Stokes and incoming recruit Shaun Williams to co-exist they will be good.

Expectations will be much higher than this year.

I think Wade tests the NBA waters and makes himself eligible for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent. Brown and Stokes (he did it last year) probably do the same thing. But I bet they ultimately decide to return to K-State for their senior years.

Wade is a pro prospect, but he doesn’t seem like a lock to get drafted yet. He can change that with a big senior season.

As disappointing as it would be for Kansas State to lose its final four games and miss the NCAA Tournament, I don’t sense that Weber is on the hot seat.

K-State has won 20 games and gone 9-8 in the Big 12 without a scholarship senior. If everyone comes back and Weber finds or develops a rebounder the Wildcats could be quite a bit better next year. And with FBI scandals happening across college basketball, Weber will probably benefit from his squeaky-clean image.

It all depends on next season.

If he retains the core of K-State’s current roster and strikes gold next year (25-plus wins or Sweet 16) he will probably still be coaching at K-State in 2021. If things go poorly next season (bubble or worse), it’s hard to see him coaching at K-State in 2020.

I’ve said before on here that I don’t see him taking another job. He’s 61 and he says he wants to retire in Manhattan. It would probably take a bigger/better job to lure him away. So this might be his final coaching stop.

But if he does have a good 2018-19 season expectations will rise, meaning he would have to follow it up with another good year. He needs to secure a good recruiting class to help replace Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade. It will be hard to keep the haters at bay if K-State slumps without them. Heck, the last question was about Bruce’s status for next season.

I’m not going to start driving to road games in Lubbock and Fort Worth and Morgantown, if that’s what you’re asking.

This week wasn’t that bad. Had a noon flight canceled into DFW and still made it to Schollmaier Arena in time to watch most of the K-State/TCU basketball game. I listened to the beginning in my rental car, so I think I got the gist of what happened.

I’ve experienced worse. I remember having a string of flight delays prevent me from arriving on press row at Madison Square Garden for a K-State/Delaware game in the 2012 preseason NIT until the 8-minute mark of the second half. And as soon as I got my computer fired up, Will Spradling crashed into the media table and doused me with half-empty cups of soda. That wasn’t fun.

But, hey, it still beats driving.

When I’m looking for the world’s best breakfast on a tortilla, I go to Juan in a Million in Austin, Texas. The Don Juan Taco is the best there is.

But if I’m constructing it myself inside my Manhattan kitchen, I’m rolling with chorizo, eggs, cheese, breakfast potatoes, sour cream and little bit of salsa. No beans, rice or lettuce like you’d find on a normal taco. If I’m hungry enough, I’m making another one with bacon instead of chorizo.

This seems like an easy debate to solve. Next time we’re all waiting for interviews to start at Bramlage Coliseum we have a media race!

Off the beaten path, huh?

Pillsbury Crossing is a fun spot to swim or sip on a beverage when it gets warmer. Little Apple Brewery has good food and beer without the hustle and bustle of Aggieville. The Chef is hard to beat for breakfast, if you can avoid the line. Those would be my suggestions.

But you can’t go wrong with more So Long, Taco Lucha and Coco Bolo’s. Enjoy them while you can. These days, I spend most of my nights out at Widgets.

Here’s guessing both get drafted.

D.J. Reed was an excellent cornerback at Kansas State, and he got an invitation to the NFL Combine as a junior. It seems like teams think he is ready to play at the next level. He will need to back up what he’s shown on film with solid numbers in front of the scouts, but he’s in good shape to be a mid-to-late rounder.

I didn’t like Pringle’s draft chances at first, but he seemed to have a good Senior Bowl and then also got an invite to the combine. He will either be a late-rounder or an undrafted free agent. Right now, I bet he gets picked.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett