Monday, February 23, 2015


Column: K-State will be fired up Monday night


The Kansas State basketball program’s string of eight consecutive winning Big 12 records ended when the Wildcats lost a pair of games last week in Texas by a combined 41 points.

TCU blasted the Wildcats, 69-55, and Baylor made that score seem merciful by slaughtering them, 69-42.

Marcus Foster, Kansas State’s loudest talent and leading scorer, isn’t on the same page as teammates and not on the same planet as his coach, Bruce Weber.

K-State must win its final three games — in Bramlage Coliseum tonight vs. Kansas, Saturday in the same building vs. Iowa State and at Texas on March 7 — to avoid its first losing record in Big 12 play since going 6-10 in the 2005-06 season, when Jim Woolridge was the coach. The Wildcats have lost seven of their past eight games. Worse, it feels more like a downward trend than a down year.

On paper, this should be a blowout, with the team fighting to hold onto a one-game lead in the Big 12 hammering divided Team Turmoil.

All of the evidence that adds up to a blowout also could lead Kansas State to pull itself together for one night and play its best.

Basketball games aren’t played on paper with numbers and streaks. They’re played on hardwood. In rivalry games, they’re played with emotion. The crowd injects wild energy into the home team, at the expense of the visitor.

The K-State students bring a ton of energy and creative humor. They just might make the Wildcats channel the negative energy they waste disliking each other and aim it at the rock-star enemy. After all, if teammates harbor jealousy toward each other, imagine how much they must feel toward the nearby school that hogs the region’s spotlight after football season gives way to basketball.

Beyond that, it’s not as if Kansas State doesn’t have any talent. Thomas Gipson, so much stronger than any of KU’s post players, doesn’t shape up as an easy matchup. Foster scored 20 points in K-State’s 85-82 overtime victory against Kansas a year and a couple of weeks ago. He could play with his head in the right location, if only for one night, and have a big game.

Five players who combined for 47 points in last February’s game will be in uniform for K-State tonight. They’ll be looking to remember how they pulled off the upset last year and to forget just about everything else that has happened with K-State basketball since that night, except this season’s two upsets vs. Oklahoma. Any team that can beat OU twice, can do the same to KU once.


Dyrk Dugan 6 years, 8 months ago

I really don't care about how they feel and their "atmosphere." And our team should want this game a lot, since the league race is still in doubt, they beat us there last year and it's K state for cryin out loud.

Jamari Trayor was suspended in this game a year ago; and we sure could have used him. The kitties are on the edge; let's push them over. Go Jayhawks!

Tony Bandle 6 years, 8 months ago

I understand the concern but something like 49 - 5 in KU's favor over the past two decades plus would seem to indicate otherwise.

Still, this season's version of KU Basketball is capable of almost anything, yet, if the Hawks play solid basketball, I don't see how they lose this game.

Win tonight and at least a tie tonight for the conference is assured. WV or TX won't beat us in Allen and ISU still has to play OK. Even a tie counts as a league championship...I think we have four of them in the current streak of ten.

Benz Junque 6 years, 8 months ago

KU has lost three of the past seven visits to Bramlege so they need to get their mind right. 31 in a row over KSU decades ago means nothing to kids that weren't alive when it happened.

If this KU team wants to win the conference and stay in the running for a top 2 seed then they need to start strong and execute to their capability or they will lose tonight. Time to quit flaking out for chunks of time and pound a lesser opponent.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Here is where we are in the conference race. Four games each remain on the schedule for Kansas and Iowa State, while Kansas holds a 1-game advantage.

Both play KSU at home, with that game coming for Kansas tonight. Advantage: tie.

Both teams also play Oklahoma, but Iowa St. gets that game at home whereas Kansas must play it in Norman. Advantage: Iowa State.

Outside of the OU game, each team has one remaining ranked opponent on their schedule. For Kansas, it's West Virginia, while Iowa State draws Baylor. Kansas and ISU both play their games on their home floor. Last week, WV (who was ranked #23 at the time)beat two ranked conference opponents in Kansas and OSU. Baylor (ranked #20) in the same time beat lowly Texas Tech and Kansas State. By the time the rankings come out this week, the two teams could be standing side by side. It appears like there is no advantage to this game for either team at first glance, but you must remember how difficult it is to play in AFH and consider the bad taste left in Kansas' mouth after losing on the failed shot attempt by Perry Ellis. Advantage: Kansas.

The last game comes down to a decision about whether you would want to face Texas at home or play TCU away. I think most people would choose TCU in that situation. On that basis alone, I give the advantage to the team playing TCU, which is Iowa State. Advantage Iowa State.

Conclusion: based on the remaining schedule, ISU's chances of gaining ground on Kansas are favored, but with a 1-game advantage Kansas can do no worse than a tie for the conference title if all goes according to what might reasonably be assumed. As for other teams in contention, OU is third in the conference but has only 3 games remaining on their schedule to make up the 1.5 game deficit they have to Kansas. Since two of those remaining 3 games are played against Kansas and Iowa State, they are effectively out of it. West Virginia sits at 4th place in the conference, but they are 2 games behind with 4 games remaining. In addition their schedule is unkind as they face a veritable gauntlet of conference season-ending games: Texas, Baylor, Kansas, OSU. West Virginia is out. Baylor has 4 games to make up a 3 game deficit, and that fact alone is enough to disqualify them from serious contention; their hopes are made much worse by the fact that Iowa State and West V appear on their schedule. Baylor is out. It is a 2-horse race between Iowa State and Kansas, but again it appears that the only remaining question is whether Kansas will share the Big 12 crown or win it outright.

Brad Farha 6 years, 8 months ago

I always appreciate your analysis Joe -- thank you for sharing.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Brad. I have a correction:

"...both play KSU at home" should read "both play KSU away".

Robert Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

Here is another way to analysis Iowa State and KU. Both are undefeated at home. Road performance is remarkably similar. ISU edge WV at WV and KU was edged at WV. The reverse happened at Baylor where KU barely escaped and ISU lost similarly to the same way we lost to WV.

ISU lost at Tech but won at OSU. KU did the reverse. Looking at remaining road games, both play at KSU. KU playing at OU is a tougher game than ISU playing at TCU, so odds are that at tie is most likely.

With that said, K-State could be tough at home and pull off an upset against one of the two. I would think that TCU's physical style of play could frustrate ISU.

My view is that if KU cannot win tonight and the remaining home games, they do not deserve to win the conference.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

Robert...I agree with all of your comment, but especially the last sentence. Yes, we are rooting for the Jayhawks to win the conference. No one should confuse that. But objectively, there is the matter of being deserving of it. So while I would be disappointed if Kansas didn't win it this year and the streak came to an end, at least there would be no question in my mind that if we lost it the reason would be that we deserved to. Spot on.

Ed Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

Great analysis for both of you. I think tonight, if we lose, not only defines this team but also the season we have had. If we can play a full game like we did at Texas, we can expect a deep run in March.

Robert Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

What is interesting (and frustrating) about this team is that many fans (me included) expect some disastrous ending to the season. I do have to remind myself that this team is 22-5 and that has we played defense for the last eight seconds at WV, we would all be singing a different tune

Len Shaffer 6 years, 8 months ago

That's somewhat true, Robert, but I think we would be concerned even if they had pulled it out at WV. The problem is that there have been WAY too many stretches this year of sloppy play where KU seems to fall asleep for a while. For the most part, they've been able to get away with it, but if they do that in the tournament and combine it with going cold from the outside (which can happen at any time to even the best-shooting teams), that would spell disaster, and I think that's what we're all afraid of.

Peter Dinh 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for breaking down the remainder of the schedule Joe!

Bryce Landon 6 years, 8 months ago

Considering that we played poorly in only beating Texas Christian by nine, I wouldn't be surprised if we were on the wrong end of an upset tonight. Dismayed and angered, yes; but not surprised.

Robert Brock 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree. Sorry to say, the Hawks look like they are out of gas.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 8 months ago

Who's gonna step up tonight?

will it be the Devonte'gon of Doom?

the Octogon of Oubre?

Alexander Field House West?

Bramlage Colis-Svi-um?

Len Shaffer 6 years, 8 months ago

I like it, Jonathan!

The truth is that it wouldn't be a huge upset if KSU won, considering that KU is only favored by 5.5 points.

KU needs to show up and have a solid game and not go into one of their "dead" stretches.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 8 months ago

After Frank Mason gets a triple double tonight...

John Currie to Frank Martin: "I want you back"

There's going to be mock burials of Bruce Webber all over Manhattan tonight.

Dave Miller 6 years, 8 months ago

"Mock burials of Bruce Webber all over Manhattan tonight."

That's funny...

Len Shaffer 6 years, 8 months ago

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm SHOCKED that Weber is having such a poor season.

Lance Cheney 6 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't say K-State fans bring "creative humor." There will be a lot of booing though.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 8 months ago

I was stunned when K-State hired Bruce Weber. And now I'm not surprised at the tailspin with Weber at the helm. This is his history. See Illinois. Did their AD not do his homework? The article I read said he wanted a "big name." He got that. But apparently he doesn't follow basketball all that closely.

Trace Stark 6 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawks by 8 tonight!

Calls to " Farmers Only dot. com" love line go up sharply after the game, causing
all phone lines in Riley county to short circuit.

Bill Horton 6 years, 8 months ago

Oxymoron of the week: Creative K-State student body.

John Randall 6 years, 8 months ago

For KSU to win tonight, they must catch KU in its lackadaisical mood for both halves, get some teamwork from Foster, and stuff Weber under the bench the last five minutes.

the chance for all four of these to happen in one game is so near zero as to warrant no further discussion.

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