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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Big 12 hoops title part of big year for K-State

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— There are times when Kansas State president Kirk Schulz is traveling on business — could be to drum up support for the biology program, or perhaps to discuss serious issues affecting other land-grant schools — and his conversations drift toward sports.

Given the year the Wildcats have had, it’s only natural.

Maybe even inevitable.

Led by Bill Snyder, their chronically underrated and overlooked football program won its second Big 12 championship last fall, and if not for a miserable night against Baylor, might have play for the first national title in school history.

Fast-forward a few months, and with new coach Bruce Weber in charge, the Wildcats thumbed their noses at prognosticators who picked them to finish in the bottom half of the league. The men’s basketball team instead tied Kansas for its first conference title in 36 years.

Only Oklahoma and Texas have won Big 12 football and basketball titles in the same year.

Throw in an Olympic silver medalist in high jumper Erik Kynard, a volleyball program that qualified for the NCAA tournament, a new basketball training facility and a $75 million expansion to the football stadium, and it’s been a banner year for Kansas State sports.

“When I’m particularly on the east and west coast,” Schulz said, “one of the first things people talk about is football, and now our success in basketball. I hear from colleagues and people I run into, and it still ends up being the No. 1 thing that opens up conversation.”

The 11th-ranked Wildcats enter the Big 12 tournament this week at the Sprint Center as the No. 2 seed. And if things fall right for them in seeding for the NCAA tournament, Kansas State could play the first two games of that tournament in Kansas City, too.

It’s heady stuff for a school that less than two years ago was wondering whether it would be shuffled out of the Big 12, or all major conferences, during a period of realignment. Nebraska and Colorado departed, followed by Texas A&M; and Missouri. But with the addition of TCU and West Virginia this season, and the new leadership of commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 has stabilized — and in some ways, become one of the strongest leagues around.

“Sports do a great job of letting people feel good about your institution,” Schulz said.

It’s hard to decide which was the bigger surprise this year, the football program reaching the Fiesta Bowl or the basketball team going 25-6 overall and 14-4 in the conference.

Most people close to the program would choose hoops.

The football team had most of its key pieces coming back from a team that went to the Cotton Bowl, but the basketball program lost a couple of important seniors and was under the direction of a new coach who had been recently fired by Illinois.

The reception to Weber was so lukewarm that some fans even organized a protest outside of Bramlage Coliseum the day he was introduced, and the most cynical of fans still believe that his intro was made during Final Four weekend so that it wouldn’t receive much attention.

But Weber managed to win over his players, even a couple of them who were trying to decide whether to transfer. And then he slowly got them to play his style, and the results have been impressive: a nonconference win over Florida, wins over Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor during the Big 12 meat-grinder, and now a share of the conference championship.

“They deserve it,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, who’s led the Jayhawks to at least a share of nine straight. “They had a great year, and they won some big games away from home, too.”

The Big 12 trophy was only the start of the rewards.

On Monday, Weber was a near-unanimous choice for AP’s Big 12 coach of the year, Rodney McGruder was first-team all-league and fellow guard Angel Rodriguez made the second team.

“There’s only like, a dozen or so schools in the country in the last so many years in major power conferences that won football and basketball in the same year,” Weber said. “It’s a rare instance, you know? And it’s great for K-State and the university.”

The only other teams in Division I this year to have accomplished the feat are Louisville in the Big East and Arkansas State in the Sun Belt, and the combined 36 wins between football and men’s basketball is trumped only by the Cardinals’ 37 wins in the two sports.

Comments

jaybate 7 years, 2 months ago

Please keep this story and the response by mariosmiracle.

jaybate 7 years, 2 months ago

No, on second thought please remove both.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe that it's almost 8 oclock and those comments haven't been removed by the site staff for a violation of the terms of service.

Brad Farha 7 years, 2 months ago

Ouch -- what was it that was removed? I realize we can't re-post something removed, but what was the general idea of what was removed?

7 years, 2 months ago

mariosmiracle was attempting to mask a couple of f-bombs by placing periods in between the letters. Apparently it was not only viewed as a violation of the terms of service, but severe enough to have the account removed.

David Brown 7 years, 2 months ago

Time is ticking at K-State. Weber has improved the level that Frank was at, with Frank's players. Credit for that. But, over time, can he recruit and keep a pipeline of talent coming to Manhatten. That is the M.O. that failed him at Illinois, and I would suggest recruiting to KSU is a tougher sell than Illinois. Plus, no deep Chicago pool to troll from. As far as KSU football, time is really ticking. When Synder Era II ends, what happens then? We saw the Prince era. Can any other coach not named Synder succeed long term there? My bet is no. KU basketball has been elite for what, 25-30 years? Getting to the top is hard. Maintaining that level for years, is even tougher. Brown, Williams, and Self have proven over time that they can keep KU in the elite. Can Webber?

Gary Kreutzer 7 years, 2 months ago

I didn't come to kusports.com to read about bunch of never been there, never done that winers. How about moving this garbage off the KU sight.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Nope - he spelled " weiners " wrong. Whiner.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Nope - he felt like Coach Snyder is the standard. K-State is just K-State. Ask Ron Prince. Or about a hundred other losers before him.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

ralster - it looks like my reply is directed towards you - it's not. It was to the KSU troll who has been removed!

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 2 months ago

Men's Basketball Championships in Big 12

Kansas: 21 (13 regular-season, 8 tournament)

Kansas State: 1 (1 regular-season, 0 tournament)

Jeff Coffman 7 years, 2 months ago

FYI, 55 total regular season conference championships, guessing but probably 50 or more less from the other team.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 2 months ago

God stats..I just used the Big 12 but you're right that the margin only increases the further you go back.

Steve Reigle 7 years, 2 months ago

I like KSU but they still have to learn that Weber is a good x's and o's coach but can't recruit. Witness Illinois.

But I have a solution for them. Calipari is a great recruiter but can't coach on the court for crap. So Calipari should be the recruiting assistant for Weber. Then KSU would be in good shape. Until, of course, the NCAA catches up with Calipari again. So, maybe not a good idea after all.

Jeff Coffman 7 years, 2 months ago

Although I do think that Calipari is overrated, I would point out he has had 4 final fours, 2 national championship appearances, and 1 national championship. I know a lot of those were vacated because of elgibility, but to compare Weber and Calipari I think that actually isn't exactly apples to apples.

Lorena Ben G Solis 7 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jaybate 7 years, 2 months ago

"Some Things KU Fans Would Rather Read About than K-SUCK Stories"

~Morbidity and Mortality Weekly reports.

~The rate at which spit dries on drywall.

~Secondary definitions of tedium.

~Number of KSU students that have contracted the Manhattan strain of any CBW agents developed at KSU.

~12 step programs aiding in recovery from animal husbandry.

~Silo repair.

~Landon Lecture by Marcel Marceau.

hawkmoon2020 7 years, 2 months ago

Even the least among us should have a day in the sun. Let KSU enjoy it, and keep our comments classy. Wouldn't we all love it if some KSU, MU or UK fans gave us some classy props?

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 2 months ago

Most KSU fans do...but don't hold your breath for the others.

kay_you 7 years, 2 months ago

Great year for the kittens, co-champs in both sports. I'll take that any year, even if they did get a bit handled in their game against the ducks. MEOW

kay_you 7 years, 2 months ago

But not as good as 2007-08. National title and Orange bowl trumps co-conference champs.

JayHok 7 years, 2 months ago

People forget that 2007-08 football team ended up with a vote for #1 in the final AP poll along with a bunch of 2nd place votes from other voters. Best record in football that year. One touchdown from going to OT in the one game they lost on a day with freezing rain where they played the worst game they could have played. No passing game that day even Reesing had gloves on it was so cold. Still with a minute to go Aqib Talib was receiving a punt, down a TD.

Jeff Coffman 7 years, 2 months ago

Call me when they go to a Final Four and win a BCS game in the same year.

lahothan 7 years, 2 months ago

Hate to be that guy (no I don't) but... jahwkrulz got it. Every time I hear a Wildcat boast about this I say "2008". It's called reaching the post season and dominating it. Big 12 titles are a dime a dozen (which means we're three years away from having a dime's worth of titles!) but how about going to a BCS bowl and actually winning? Or winning any bowl game for that matter? What, are they on 5 post season losses in a row now? How about possibly winning the Big 12 regular season and THEN some... post your banners KSU, we'll post our own come April.

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