Last year’s 27-8 record seems like a distant memory for fans in the Little Apple. The honeymoon period between fans and coach Bruce Weber already seems to be over. Then, just when it seems like the fans are ready to move on, they get sucked back into the vortex.
Weber left Illinois before last season to coach Kansas State and — just as he had done upon being hired to replace Bill Self at Illinois — he took a group of players that another coach recruited, gave the players more freedom than they were used to and endeared himself to the fans and school when the team found great success in his first year.
Weber seemed to wear out his welcome quickly in Champaign despite reaching the national championship game in his second season. For the majority of his seven-year tenure at Illinois, fans watched Weber’s teams beat national powerhouses early in the year only to be left feeling completely empty inside by the time February came around. Apparently, Weber is up to his old tricks again.
Kansas State, which lost its season opener at home to Northern Colorado and also lost to the Charlotte 49ers and Georgetown Hoyas — two similarly perplexing teams — has now won six games in a row after a surprising 72-62 victory over the No. 15 Gonzaga Bulldogs in Wichita today. This win only makes it more difficult to predict how successful the Wildcats will be this season.
This team shows promise in several areas, especially on defense. Kansas State leads the Big 12 and ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (59.4 ppg, ninth) and three-point field goal percentage defense (24.9, fourth). Furthermore, after today’s game the Wildcats have held nine of their last 10 opponents under their season scoring average, including six to 60 points or less.
Is Kansas State going to be the team that started 2-3 or the team that has won six games in a row? Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, the team will probably spend the majority of the year deviating wildly between the two extremes, and the fans will be left with that familiar sinking feeling. There is reason for hope, but believe in Bruce Weber at your own risk.