K-State Q&A: Looking ahead to important road games, looking back on the Baylor loss, plus NCAA Tournament and Justin Edwards

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another K-State Q&A. Apologies for taking last week off, but it was 86 degrees in Texas leading up to the Baylor game. I chose to spend every second I could away from the computer.

Anyway, there’s a big week of basketball ahead. The Wildcats play at Oklahoma and Texas Tech and then return home to take on Iowa State. All three games could be considered toss-ups. They will certainly impact the seed K-State earns in the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s go ahead and jump into your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.


1. The expectation has to be 0-2, given K-State’s recent history. Though it has often looked dominant at home (winning 14 straight) it has played poorly on the road (losing every away game other than at bottom-feeder TCU). But the majority of its road losses have been close, so it’s also reasonable to assume K-State will break through and win a road game at some point. Oklahoma is 11-3 at home. Texas Tech is 10-5 at home. K-State could win in both venues, but both games will be difficult. Too difficult to expect victories given that K-State has lost five straight on the road.
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Shane Southwell slumps, Will Spradling soars

ShaneSouthwellISU
Will Spradling and Shane Southwell are heading in opposite directions.

Spradling is making shots and playing his best basketball in a Kansas State uniform after a mediocre (at best) start to the season. Southwell is committing fouls, bricking shots and losing turnovers like a freshman after a promising start to the year.

They have effectively switched places.

Check out the stats.

Will Spradling (first 18 games): 6.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists.
Shane Southwell (first 20 games): 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.15 assists.

Will Spradling (last six games): 11.67 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists.
Shane Southwell (last four games): 4 points, 3.75 rebounds, 2.75 assists.
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Marvin Clark “loved” watching Kansas State defeat Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum

MarvinClark If Kansas State ends up landing Marvin Clark, its 85-82 overtime victory against Kansas on Monday could be a big reason why.

Clark, a three-star small forward from Kansas City who is currently enrolled at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, watched the game from the front row while on an unofficial visit. And he had a good time. Such a good time, that he rushed the floor with K-State’s student body when it was over.

“That’s the craziest game I’ve ever been to or been a part of. I loved it,” Clark said Tuesday by phone. “First time I’ve rushed the floor. People were telling me it was going to happen, so when it happened I figured what the heck?”
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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: 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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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 74, Oklahoma State 71

MarcusSmart
Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 74-71 victory against Oklahoma State on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. This is the type of win that has lasting implications.
Before Saturday, K-State was still fighting for respect in some circles. Even after a perfect December, it was unranked and left out of most NCAA Tournament projections. That is about to change. The Wildcats will almost certainly break into the national polls on Monday. And who could predict them to miss the NCAA Tournament at this exact moment? Their RPI is down to No. 53 after hovering in the high 80s, and they own victories over four quality opponents. K-State is also back in the mix to defend its Big 12 title. A year ago, it defeated Oklahoma State in its conference opener and rode that momentum to a memorable season. The Big 12 is much stronger this year, so there is no guarantee it will happen again. But a win over Oklahoma State puts it in the discussion.
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Combo guard Tre Harris picks Kansas State

Tre Harris, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, enjoyed his official visit to Kansas State so much that he gave a verbal commitment to the Wildcats late Saturday night.

Harris is originally from Edwardsville, Ill. but currently plays basketball at Fishburne Military Academy in Virginia. Harris was lightly recruited out of high school and doesn’t even have a profile on Rivals. He chose to attend prep school in order to improve his body and earn more scholarship offers. The plan paid off, as he received interest from Toledo, Delaware and K-State. After visiting all three schools, he decided K-State was the obvious choice.

“I liked everything about Kansas State,” Harris said by phone Sunday morning while traveling home from Manhattan. “Coach (Bruce) Weber and his coaching staff are some guys who know what they are doing. The school has had success and is coming off the Big 12 championship. It’s a good spot in a good conference in the highest level in the country. That is probably what got me here.”
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Madness in Manhattan was a success, but will it be back next year?


Madness in Manhattan ran longer than expected last night, so I had to file my story from the event before it ended to meet our print deadline.

Here a few more notes worth passing along.

– Overall, Madness in Manhattan was a success. An estimated crowd of 5,500 turned out for the basketball kickoff party, and fans lined up in long lines before the doors opened at Bramlage Coliseum to get the best seats.

K-State has held October basketball celebrations sporadically in the past. If the dates line up and the Wildcats can have a basketball night on Friday followed by a home football game on Saturday, they consider it. If not, they don’t worry about it.

This was the first Madness in Manhattan of the Bruce Weber era. Does he want to turn it into a yearly event?

“It’s a hard thing,” Weber said. “You obviously don’t make any money from it. It’s more of a fan-friendly thing. The players like it. It’s good for recruiting. We will see. If they want to keep doing it and they are going to be creative, it’s all right.”
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K-State’s newest hoops commit Stephen Hurt has “skills you just can’t teach”

2014 recruit Stephen Hurt should provide K-State’s front court with much-needed size.

Torn ligaments in his knee forced him to sit out a season at Lipscomb with a redshirt before he could take the court. Lipscomb’s decision to part ways with its head coach following his encouraging freshman season convinced him to transfer to Northwest Florida State College. Now he is preparing to help his team chase a junior college championship.

Outside of averaging 11.5 points and 7.2 rebounds while being named Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, Stephen Hurt’s first few years of college have been far from perfect.

Still, the 6-foot-10 power forward doesn’t have any regrets. After receiving heavy recruiting interest from Indiana, Tennessee, Wichita State, Miami and Kansas State, he verbally committed to K-State on Tuesday. Now the thought of attending his third college in as many years seems exciting.

“It’s kind of wild, but regardless of how it happened I think I ended up in a good situation,” Hurt said during a phone interview Wednesday. “I just think Kansas State is the best situation for me. I felt really comfortable with Coach (Bruce) Weber and (assistant) Coach (Alvin) Brooks. They have a real good staff. I feel like I hit it off with the team on my visit. They are coming off a Big 12 championship. It’s a great situation. What more could you ask for?”
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Kansas State lands first 2014 hoops commit in power forward Stephen Hurt

Stephen Hurt, a 6-foot-10, 285-pound power forward from Northwest Florida State College, gave a verbal commitment to Kansas State late Tuesday night. He is the Wildcats’ first commit to for the recruiting class of 2014.

Hurt chose K-State over Wichita State, Miami and a few others.

He will bring an interesting background with him to K-State. Hurt started his college career at Lipscomb and played well right away. He averaged 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in his first season and was named Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year. He decided to transfer to a junior college when his coach lost his job after the year was over.

I asked K-State coach Bruce Weber if he was concerned about a lack of commitments in a phone interview two weeks ago. He said he wasn’t, because his coaches were actively recruiting several quality players. He also said he expected good news to come on the recruiting front in the coming weeks.

Hurt delivered that good news, and K-State has a versatile big man to look forward to.