Monthly Archives: January 2014

K-State Q&A: NCAA Tournament, Thomas Gipson, Marcus Foster, Shane Southwell, a tricky game at West Virginia and football

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.


Kansas State will make the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. The Big 12 is the nation’s top-rated conference, according to most statistical measurements, and simply playing quality teams on a regular basis will keep the Wildcats’ RPI (currently 39) strong. The better question is what seed will K-State receive in the NCAA Tournament. Halfway through conference play, it is looking like an 8 seed in the latest bracket projections. Saturday’s game at West Virginia, and upcoming home games against Texas and Kansas will be important. But so will every game remaining on the schedule. If the Wildcats take care of business and win most of their home games and find a way to win a few road games, they could work themselves into consideration for a 6 or 7 seed. It they slip up against Texas Tech or Baylor and fail to perform well in the Big 12 Tournament, they could be looking at a 10 or 11 seed.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 66, Texas Tech 58

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 66-58 victory over Texas Tech on Tuesday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. This might be the worst K-State can play while winning a conference game.
Marcus Foster scored two points. Shane Southwell made one shot. Thomas Gipson was on the floor for 11 minutes. Everything about those statistics screams loss, but the Wildcats found a way to beat Texas Tech without significant contributions from their main three scorers. Will Spradling, Wesley Iwundu and a surprisingly strong bench effort saved the day for K-State. In some ways that is a good sign. The Wildcats have enough depth to win when their starters aren’t at their best. It is also a negative sign. How many other teams are getting this little from their best players in late January? Gipson has posted back-to-back poor games. Southwell hasn’t done anything special since the West Virginia game. And Foster has been all over the map lately. K-State needs consistency from all three moving forward. It had enough depth to hold off Texas Tech at home, but it will need more than that to win more difficult games.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Iowa State 81, Kansas State 75

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 81-75 loss at Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum:

1. The Wildcats need to handle double-teams better on both ends of the court.
Thomas Gipson had an unusually quiet day, scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds in 28 minutes. His struggles were tied directly to the way he handled double-teams. Iowa State players descended on him every time he touched the ball down low, and he didn’t react fast enough to the extra pressure. He missed five of seven shots, and often held onto the ball too long when teammates were open. Gipson is used to double-teams, but he struggled against them at Iowa State. The Wildcats also failed to effectively double-team Iowa State forwards on defense. Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim faced two, and sometimes three, K-State defenders in the paint. Yet, they combined for 38 points and 13 rebounds.
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K-State Q&A: Keys for the Iowa State game and football recruiting

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.


Rebounding might be the most important part of the game. Everyone knows Iowa State is going to spread the floor and take a boatload of threes, but what happens when the Cyclones miss? Will the Wildcats be able to secure rebounds and push the ball up court, which they hope to do in order to exploit Iowa State’s transition defense, or will the Cyclones grab rebounds and score in the paint? That could easily decide the game. Another key: K-State needs to make it hard for Iowa State players to drive to the basket. Everyone from DeAndre Kane to Georges Niang can shoot or put it on the floor. Thomas Gipson, in particular, needs to be ready to defend anything. One final thought: Will Spradling could be important at Hilton Coliseum. He has a history of playing well there. He has averaged more than 11 points in his three prior trips to Ames, and he scored 15 points there last year. If he can do that again, that will help K-State tremendously.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Texas 67, Kansas State 64

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 67-64 loss at Texas on Tuesday at the Erwin Center:

1. The Big 12 is loaded.
Everyone knows six Big 12 teams are currently ranked. That’s impressive. But here’s the scary thing: Texas should be in the top 25, too. The Longhorns have size and depth, and they are well-coached. With Javan Felix starting to make shots, they are capable of beating most teams, especially at home. This was the team that was supposed to cost Rick Barnes his job, but it now appears destined for the NCAA Tournament. With back-to-back wins over Iowa State and Kansas State, trips to Austin are starting to look as treacherous as trips to Ames, Norman and Waco. A year ago, Weber said winning at Texas was a sign that K-State was good enough to win the conference. This time around, a loss in Austin shows just how tough the conference is. There are very few easy games in this league. Outside of TCU, and possibly West Virginia, they are all a challenge.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 78, West Virginia 56

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Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 78-56 victory against West Virginia on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. K-State made West Virginia look bad.
West Virginia entered Saturday’s game with one double-digit loss on its resume — an 80-69 setback against Texas. Every other game it had played was a victory or a close loss. It even pushed Wisconsin and Gonzaga. But the Mountaineers were no match for the Wildcats. K-State handed them (by far) their worst loss of the season. This one was over by halftime. Reasonable people can disagree on how much West Virginia contributed to the lopsided game. It looked bad by itself. But K-State definitely made it look worse. Outside of Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, the Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going. And Staten lost seven turnovers. That’s an ugly number, considering West Virginia had five assists as a team. K-State piled up 22 assists, played strong defense and got balanced scoring from Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell and Marcus Foster. That led to a rare easy conference victory.
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K-State Q&A: The Big 12 basketball race, Jevon Thomas, Jim Wooldridge, attendance figures, Daniel Sams and facility upgrades

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.


Kansas lost four games before the start of conference play, and the Big 12 is too tough to envision anyone going undefeated. So I guess it is silly to imagine the Jayhawks running the table. Remember, they got clubbed at Baylor (a NIT team) and TCU (a horrible team) last year. Texas Tech (still bad) stomping Baylor (now a top 15 team) earlier this week shows the Big 12′s depth. Still, the conference race is currently KU’s to lose. The Jayhawks have already beaten K-State at home and they have defeated Oklahoma and Iowa State on the road. Will anyone else duplicate those victories? If they beat Oklahoma State and Baylor next, they will have a huge advantage at 5-0. K-State does have a shot at challenging them. Victories over Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have the Wildcats off to a nice start, and the upcoming schedule isn’t daunting. But they can’t afford to drop any games they are favored to win. Beating West Virginia and Texas will be vital. They will also need to prove they can play in tough road environments. If they can do that, then future games against Iowa State and Kansas take on added meaning.


I agree that Jevon Thomas has developed into a valuable sixth man. His speed allows K-State to score in transition and get up the court in ways it simply couldn’t while he was waiting to become eligible. He can come in for Marcus Foster or Will Spradling, and the pass-first point guard helps in many ways. Against Oklahoma, he even made a difference on the glass, grabbing four rebounds. The best part about his game is that he doesn’t lose turnovers. He averages one per game. His defense has dropped a tad from his blazing start, but that is to be expected now that opponents know who he is. As a freshman, he has a lot to offer K-State’s basketball program.


During the Jim Wooldridge era, Bramlage Coliseum averaged about 7,000 fans. The 2001-02 season bottomed out with 5,915 fans. His final season, in 2005-06 topped off at 7,664. Then Bob Huggins arrived and attendance regularly shot up over 12,000. The bottom half of the Big 12 currently averages between 4,000-9,000 fans. Remember, all of those numbers are based on announced (not actual) attendance. By the way, while we’re talking about Wooldridge, congrats to him on becoming the full-time AD at UC-Riverside.


Sams played some running back in high school, and I think he could succeed there at K-State. After all, he is a running quarterback. But he says he only wants to play receiver or quarterback. When he said he would consider changing positions next season, I asked for his thoughts on possibly switching to running back or safety, as well. He didn’t seem remotely interested. Besides, I trust K-State coaches when they say DeMarcus Robinson and Jarvis Leverett are capable replacements for John Hubert.


I think so. He wasn’t plagued by fumbles last season as a quarterback. I’m sure there will be an adjustment curve for him if he switches positions, which is no guarantee, but Chris Harper, Ty Zimmerman and Justin Tuggle all thrived in different spots after coming to K-State as quarterbacks. Bill Snyder knows how to get the most out of his players, regardless of position.

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Here are the two things I keep hearing when I ask about K-State’s new wave of athletic facility upgrades: They are in the very early planning stages, but with a $50 million price tag they are thinking big. I don’t know specifics about what the new north end of Snyder Family Stadium will look like when this project is complete, but it will feature drastic changes. Additional seating and a more enclosed stadium both seem like possibilities. Still, no timetable is in place for that project. K-State is much closer on adding videoboards to Bramlage Coliseum and Snyder Family Stadium. Depending on fundraising, you could see those popping up later this year.


Have a comment or future story idea for K-Stated?
E-mail: krobinett@wichitaeagle.com
Twitter: @KellisRobinett

Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 72, Oklahoma 66

OUJevonThomas
Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 72-66 victory against Oklahoma on Tuesday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. Wesley Iwundu is growing up.
This was a very important game for Iwundu. K-State’s starting forward hit the “freshman wall” coaches always talk about a few weeks ago. And when he hit it, he hit it hard. Iwundu had been as quiet as a mouse since scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds against Gonzaga. In the five games leading up to Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma, he averaged 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds. He essentially disappeared in games against TCU and Kansas. Those performances were clearly fresh on the minds of K-State fans, who urged him not to attempt an open three in the first half Tuesday. Funny thing is, those same fans cheered when he knocked down a late three-pointer (his third of the game) to spark a 16-4 run that led to K-State’s victory. Iwundu has never been known as a shooter, but he made several key shots in this game. Perhaps more importantly, he grabbed vital rebounds in crunch time. He finished with 11 points and six rebounds for his best game of the season. “I have been absent the past two games,” Iwundu said. “I had a talk with coach and he was just like, calm down and let the game come to me. I wasn’t trying to force anything and just shot the ball with confidence.”
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas 86, Kansas State 60

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Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 86-60 loss at Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence:

1. Bruce Weber made too many substitutions in the first half.
K-State’s basketball coach made a critical error in the first half by subbing in four bench players when the game was close. Kansas led 15-12 with 11:28 remaining in the first half. K-State always seems to fall impossibly behind at Allen Fieldhouse, so this qualified as a good start. But the game started to get away from the Wildcats when they came out of a timeout with Marcus Foster, Omari Lawrence, Nino Williams, D.J. Johnson and Jevon Thomas on the floor. The lineup consisted of one starter, two freshmen and three backups. The move was puzzling, considering Foster was K-State’s only player in foul trouble at the time. Kansas took advantage by going on a 9-2 run until the next media timeout. It led 45-28 at halftime, and the game was over. Weber later admitted K-State lost control during that stretch. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened with a better lineup on the floor.
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K-State Q&A: Thomas Gipson, Marcus Foster, Sunflower Showdown, football recruiting and a prediction for next season

It’s time for another K-State Q&A, so let’s jump right into your questions.

Thanks, as always, for asking them.


Of course. Kansas State has won three of the last 50 against Kansas, so logically the Wildcats have a better than three in 60 shot at pulling an upset Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. I actually think K-State has a better-than-normal shot of beating Kansas. Yes, the matchup is bad (the Jayhawks have Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor inside while the Wildcats have Thomas Gipson) and K-State hasn’t seen a loud road environment all season (Bruce Weber blared crowd noise during practice Thursday to try and simulate what the team will see in Lawrence), but Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Jevon Thomas don’t know anything about this rivalry. They haven’t been a part of the last seven losses at Allen Fieldhouse, where K-State repeatedly fell impossibly behind in the first half and lost big. That will help. If Foster can make outside shots and Thomas can make life difficult for KU’s point guards, K-State will have a chance. But Gipson, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling need to deliver, too. Can the Wildcats put together that type of all-around performance in their toughest road game of the season? It’s unlikely, but they have won 10 straight. It’s possible.
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