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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bruce Weber makes case for Perry Ellis as Big 12 Player of Year

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) gets up for a dunk against Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) gets up for a dunk against Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

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— Disappointed by yet another hard-fought loss, both to Kansas University and during this trying Kansas State men’s basketball season, KSU coach Bruce Weber took a moment after Saturday’s 72-63 loss to KU at Bramlage Coliseum to sound off about some bigger-picture Big 12 issues.

When one team, in this case Kansas, takes a two-game lead in the conference race with four games to play, it becomes time to talk about these sorts of things.

And Weber had no problem doing so, even if his claims were a little unconventional and unprompted.

“To me, if they win the league, (Perry) Ellis should be (Big 12) player of the year,” Weber said of KU’s senior forward. “I know (Oklahoma guard) Buddy (Hield) may be national player of the year, but Perry should be the (Big 12) player of the year. You know, if you win the league and you take your team to the championship, you should be the MVP. That’s what it’s about.”

Never was Ellis’ importance to this Kansas team (23-4 overall, 11-3 Big 12) or the Big 12 Conference race, which KU now leads by two games thanks to Oklahoma’s Saturday win at West Virginia, more evident to Weber than during a second-half stretch in which K-State trimmed a 17-point Kansas lead to three, largely because Ellis was in the locker room getting a dozen stitches on his head and dealing with a scratch on his eye.

There certainly were elements other than Ellis’ absence that allowed K-State (15-12, 4-10) to crawl back into the game, but Weber did not shy away from expressing what a huge break Ellis’ medium-sized gash was for the Wildcats.

“I hope people appreciate how good he is,” said Weber of Ellis, who finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 30 minutes Saturday. “Because, when he’s not in the game, it sure makes a difference. I promise you I’d rather play them without him any time.”

However, more than Ellis’ impact, the K-State coach who, a few weeks ago in Lawrence, joked about wanting to go to Ellis’ graduation party so he knew definitively he would never have to coach against him again, said it was KU’s roster of weapons that made the Jayhawks so tough to take down.

On Saturday, KU’s biggest gun was junior guard Frank Mason III, who single-handedly took over a stretch late in the first half that turned a four-point KSU lead into a 10-point Kansas advantage.

“It seems like different guys pick it up for them,” Weber said. “(Sophomore guard Devonté) Graham’s been playing special and he didn’t have (a big) game, so Frank picked it up.... The stretch right before the half was probably the difference in the game.”

For K-State, which KU coach Bill Self said easily could have won four more conference games this season and been right in the thick of the NCAA Tournament talk, the missed opportunities and inability to take that final step through the door currently is haunting them.

“We cut it to three,” said KSU senior Stephen Hurt (13 points, nine rebounds). “We had our chance. We just have to execute a little bit better.”

Added senior guard Justin Edwards: “Obviously, it sucks. When we spot teams a lot of points like that, it’s hard to come back. Especially (against) good teams.”

— See what people were saying about KU's rematch with rival Kansas State during KUsports.com's live coverage


More news and notes from the Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan




By the Numbers: Kansas 72, Kansas State 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 72, Kansas State 63

Comments

Bryce Landon 2 years, 5 months ago

What's the difference between Bruce Weber and a puppy?

A puppy eventually grows up and stops whining.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

What's the difference between Bruce Weber, and a few of our regular posters? Weber's comments in this article show a good sense of humor and a lot of class.

Gavin Fritton 2 years, 5 months ago

Even if Perry were a junior, I'm not entirely sure that Bruce Weber would have to worry about coaching against him another time.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 5 months ago

The mindsets at KSU are distinctly different than at KU. While fans everywhere boo calls against them, KSU players seem to frequently beg for calls or show their obvious displeasure with a call.

That's one thing I like about KU. The players rarely show significant emotion when a call goes against them. They leave that to the coaching staff, as it should be. I'm sure that this is drilled into them by Coach Self and his staff from day one.

The other thing I noticed is that the KSU cheerleaders get into the act also. The camera caught one of them booing a call and several of them shaking their heads when a call went again KSU. I can't ever remember seeing a KU cheerleader do that.

Of course, I am biased, but I truly believe that KU players and fans are just classier than most of the ones at KSU.

Mick Allen 2 years, 5 months ago

Harlan, I see the distinction too. I think the difference is the KU fans have a better understanding of the game than the mildcat fans. KSU fans boo even the most obvious calls against their players. I have sat through many games at Allen and like any home crowd we can on occasion, be less than objective, but we have watched the game played so well for so long we have a better sense of the "Right Way To Play", which of course is Kansas Basketball.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes, plus we have been known to give standing ovations to opposing players who gave outstanding performances, the most recent being Buddy Hield.

Shane Garrett 2 years, 5 months ago

I saw KSU fans clapping for Perry when he left the court. I thought that showed Wildcat class.

Lance Cheney 2 years, 5 months ago

I saw that too. I was waiting to see if they cheered him being injured, but I was pleasantly surprised when they actually clapped for him.

Mick Allen 2 years, 5 months ago

As much as Weber[Liberace] is on the court he should have to wear a uniform. He survives this year but he better make the tournament next year or he's gone.

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