Since the departure of Dean Wade and other players on that memorable 2018 Elite Eight squad, Kansas State basketball has been searching for answers. Lots of losing, lots of empty seats, and lots of yelling by Bruce Weber. Okay, maybe the yelling part happened a bunch while they were winning too, but to put it in blunt terms: Kansas State Basketball was really, really bad. Not as bad as everyone thought they would be with all that turnover, but bad nonetheless. Weber was obviously not the guy to fix those problems, so K-State let him go. He's looking much healthier and has a fully working voice now, by the way.
Enough about our favorite boisterous court invader though, let's get to his successor. Former Baylor assistant Jerome Tang was selected to head the Wildcats after a successful career being Scott Drew's right hand man. Tang helped lead the Bears to multiple successful seasons, including one national title. Now he is expected to bring light back into the Little Apple, at least in respect to their basketball program. So far, he's proven that he was the right candidate. Acquiring excellent recruits and transfers, being loud and proud about his passion of being at K-State, and his record thus far have done quite a bit to bolster his reputation, but can this success translate into conference success and even tournament success come March? With convincing wins over Cal and Rhode Island, as well as what should be gimmes like UT-Rio Grande Valley and (Sorry fellow Roos) UMKC, standing at 4-0 has looked good so far. Given the non-conference schedule only gets tougher after that though, with Nevada (of whom they are currently losing to early) Butler, Wichita State, and (Okay maybe not too tough but still) Nebraska they have a fairly strong test ahead. Win those, and you could make a case for K-State to go into conference play with the confidence and poise to take on the juggernauts of the Big 12. Lose, and that could prove to be detrimental come January. There's a lot of heavy hitters in the Big 12 this year, and losing what should be those non-conference confidence boosters could spell trouble for the Cats. The Big 12 is unforgiving, and ruthlessly competitive in basketball, being one of the most prestigious and competitive conferences in college basketball, and any slip up could give way to potential downfall. This being said, with K-State basketball there's really no other way to go but up, and I think Tang will lead them to a respectable year regardless of what happens. He's rebuilding a program that took some heavy blows these past couple of years, and though K-Staters are ready to see good basketball again, I think most fans are realistic and do not expect this team to go all the way to the championship or anything like that. Rebuilding takes time, and with a new coach comes new levels of patience that must be had. I don't think K-State will be last in the Big 12, but they certainly will have a ways to go before they are back to the years of Dean Wade, Michael Beasley, and other legends of Wildcat lore.
What do you think though? Think K-State will be better than expected this year? Perhaps worse than expected even? Let me know your thoughts below or over social media, and have your thoughts featured on the upcoming ScorchCast. Cheers, and uhhhhhhhh Rock Chalk.
Burn Notice: 8/10 "Purple flame, purple flame" or whatever Prince said.