Campus Corner

K-State Q&A: Bruce Weber, Dean Wade and a NCAA Tournament reunion with Marcus Foster

Marcus Foster looks on as K-State plays Oklahoma State.
Marcus Foster looks on as K-State plays Oklahoma State.

All the Marcus Foster talk this week got me to thinking about his last season at Kansas State.

Boy, what a crazy ride that was.

The year began with Foster proclaiming that the Wildcats had “Final Four talent” and ended with a losing record. When it was over, Nino Williams complained that he and Thomas Gipson (the seniors on that team) “got stuck with a bunch of guys who didn’t understand how hard it is to win in the Big 12.” And that “a lot of guys didn’t buy in. You can’t have two or three guys playing hard and the other people not.”

Yikes.

I will never forget Bruce Weber telling a story a few weeks later about how he helped teach a young boy how to shoot free throws at a basketball camp and walked away with a huge smile on his face because it gave him a chance to coach instead of putting out fires.

Or his opening remarks at media day the following season about how K-State would be a significantly better despite losing talent. And, sure enough, K-State went 17-16 instead of 15-17 while playing (Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade) a bunch of unknown freshmen. More importantly, it laid the foundation for the success we are currently seeing.

The difference? Foster was dismissed from the squad along with two others players. Three more chose to transfer. There was so much roster turnover that, after committing, Carlbe Ervin said he had no idea who his teammates were going to be the following year.

Foster and K-State have both come a long way since then.

Foster seems like he has become a unifying locker-room presence at Creighton. I wonder how different the player we see on Friday looks from the volume scorer we saw at K-State three years ago.

The Wildcats are different, too. Barry Brown and Dean Wade are both all-conference players and K-State no longer leans on one player. Fans rightfully gripe that Wade doesn't get enough touches, but he’s happy to spread the wealth. Everyone gets along.

It might get personal when the game starts. But given how things have worked out for both parties, maybe this reunion isn’t that big of a deal. Foster has owned up to his mistakes at K-State, saying last year he is glad he had those struggles so he could learn from them.

Weber hasn't said much about Foster over the years. But he seems not unhappy that he has found success at Creighton.

I’m of the belief this game isn’t that big of a deal for both parties. This is Foster’s senior year. Weber is 0-3 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with K-State. They both badly want to win. The stakes are already high. The fact that they used to be on the same side shouldn’t make them work harder. If it does, that probably benefits the Wildcats, as Foster could try to be a hero and play outside his usual game.

Whatever happens, the matchup brought back some, uh, interesting memories.

And with that … Let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Is Dean Wade ready to go? I haven&#39;t heard any news from family or friends yet!</p>&mdash; Kenn Wealand (@KennWealand) <a href="https://twitter.com/KennWealand/status/973983948958322689?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

He should be in the starting lineup. This is the same injury Wesley Iwundu played through for much of his junior season, wearing a boot in between games and not practicing but still playing when his team needed him. I think it’s about pain tolerance more than anything.

Wade would have played against KU had the Wildcats needed the game to reach the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they told him to rest up for this game. I will be very surprised if he's not out there.

But will he be 100 percent? Probably not. I would guess he’s in the 60-85 percent range. That might not hinder him at all. It might completely throw off his game. We’ll see what he looks like at practice today. But that’s definitely the question heading into the game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">On a scale of 1-10 how badly does Bruce need this win? I personally think a 2 when it comes to contract stability and 7 when it comes to fans liking him, coming to an average of 4.5. Feel free to use any categories and weighted averages in your answer. That’s just how I did mine.</p>&mdash; scottriverotter (@scottwildcat) <a href="https://twitter.com/scottwildcat/status/974062690812522503?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

In terms of contract stability, Bruce Weber is basically playing with house money in this NCAA Tournament. He's not on the hot seat and he has a good roster coming back next year. Put me down for a three in that category.

But ... in terms of winning over his detractors, this game ranks way up there. He hasn't advanced past the Round of 64 since he was at Illinois. Going 0-3 in the real bracket with K-State and his haters will howl if that record drops to 0-4 Friday night. He needs to win in the NCAA Tournament before some will give him a chance. Put me down for a nine there.

Guess that evens out to a six.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Looking forward to Marcus Foster reunion Friday! Oh Prognosticator, how would last 3 years have been different if he stayed at K-State?</p>&mdash; BrennanDell (@BrennanDell) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrennanDell/status/974128831207534592?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 15, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

It would be fascinating to look at the alternate dimension where Foster pushed himself after his breakthrough freshman season and was a team leader as a sophomore and brought the Wildcats together instead of pushing them apart. Maybe they could have had something special with Foster and Iwundu for four whole years. But in this dimension it's probably best that Foster moved to Creighton. I don't see how either side could have salvaged anything had Foster remained at K-State as a junior.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">if everything went perfectly for KState, how far could their tourney run take them?</p>&mdash; Mitchell Gregson (@MitchGregson) <a href="https://twitter.com/MitchGregson/status/973974521538629634?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Well, if K-State beats Creighton and UMBC knocks off Virginia then you're looking at a potential deep run.

I don't like K-State's chances against Virginia, the top defensive team in the country. They stink on offense, so maybe the Cats could win a low-scoring game. It's possible. But I like their chances a lot more against a 16 seed in the second round!

The Sweet 16 feels like the realistic ceiling for this group. If they end up with some great matchups, maybe they can go even further. March is crazy, You never know what can happen. But K-State also hasn't won a NCAA Tournament game under Weber, so it's hard to envision a Final Four run even under perfect circumstances. Let's keep it simple and say Sweet 16.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What are the odds that K-State wears the Lucky Lavenders in the Tournament?<br><br>Who is the most comparable current Big 12 player to 2018 Marcus Foster?</p>&mdash; Jesse Piper (@jessejamespiper) <a href="https://twitter.com/jessejamespiper/status/973988834227625984?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Let’s put it this way: the Wildcats should definitely wear the Lucky Lavenders. They are 3-0 when wearing them this season, and the players love them. Plus, they bring shock value. I can only imagine what Marcus Foster’s reaction would be to the two-tones.

Will they wear them? I have my doubts. They didn’t even bring them to Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament. But we’ll see. Thumbs up if they pull them out.

On Foster, that’s a good question.

I’m not sure there is a carbon copy of Foster in the Big 12. He actually reminds me a little of Barry Brown, but Foster is a better shooter and Brown is a much better defender. He’s probably more like Keenan Evans, though they play different positions. Jeffrey Carroll and Svi Mykhailiuk also come to mind, but they don’t touch the ball nearly as much as Foster. You could also call Foster a poor man’s Trae Young.

My answer is Evans. If the game is on the line, neither of those players are giving up the ball.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Who is/are your Cinderella picks this year? Who do you have in your <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinalFour?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinalFour</a>?</p>&mdash; Ep (@johny_epleseed) <a href="https://twitter.com/johny_epleseed/status/973985243832168449?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Cinderall teams: Loyola-Chicago, South Dakota State and New Mexico State. Could even see some of them making the Sweet 16.

Final Four: Cincinnati, North Carolina, Villanova and Kansas.

Sadly, I hate those picks. But I hate them less than what I had yesterday. So I'm sticking with them!

For fun, I also helped my two sons fill out brackets this year. The 3-year old has Texas has beating Murray State in the title game ... and two 16 seeds winning. The 6-year old went with a Final Four of Loyola-Chicago, Butler, Gonzaga and Kansas.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">1. Rumor is he will start, but how healthy is Dean Wade?<br>2. Pick for the K-State/Creighton game?<br>3. Since we are nearing the end of the season, who is leaving the MBB team to make room for Williams?<br>4. Where to Pringle and Reed get drafted?<br>5. Does Foster get drafted in the NBA?</p>&mdash; Adam Cline (@ajc7755) <a href="https://twitter.com/ajc7755/status/973980493363515394?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

1. Healthy enough to play.

2. Give me K-State by a small margin. The Wildcats tend to play their best against teams that run on offense and don’t play much defense. They will have to shoot it well, but I expect them to do exactly that. K-State will play better defense than Creighton and win.

3. The betting favorite is Mawdo Sallah.

4. Both get drafted in the late rounds.

5. No.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Im confused - the play that sent Barry to the bench looked dirty to me. Not one media person asked about it post game. Add to that some play from Lightfoot that appeared &quot;rough&quot;. Nothing. How come no one even asked the question?</p>&mdash; Wildkat Photography (@wildkatphoto) <a href="https://twitter.com/wildkatphoto/status/974008311233306628?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Oh, questions were asked. Devonte Graham said it was an accident and he apologized to Barry Brown afterward. It looked like incidental contact to me. The odds of trying to poke someone in the eye and succeeding at that speed seem low. Maybe it was malicious, but I don’t think it was.

The only thing I wondered afterward: Why didn’t the officials look at it to see if it was deserving of a flagrant foul. A lot of times, those are called even when the offender doesn’t show intent.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Better way to determine national champion. Bracket style tournament or ski race down Devil’s Mountain, first to cross finish line wins.</p>&mdash; Peterman (@slp3939) <a href="https://twitter.com/slp3939/status/973997263767908355?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Rather than have a Selection Committee, I say we start seeding the NCAA Tournament based on a ski race involving all 68 coaches.

It worked for the state of California in BoJack Horseman. Let's try it in the real world!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What are your “buzz” words for the K-State bs Creighton drinking game?</p>&mdash; Ryan Moss (@PowercatRyan) <a href="https://twitter.com/PowercatRyan/status/973965151903862784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Drink everytime the announcers mention Marcus Foster used to play at Kansas State.

Drink everytime the announcers point out that Bruce Weber and Greg McDermott are friends.

Drink everytime they mention St. John.

Drink everytime they talk about Weber/McDermott winning the right way.

Drink everytime they show Bruce Weber's expression after a questionable foul.

And please do this with a non-alcoholic beverage, because you're going to be drinking a lot.

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