No Excuses Derek Larson November 30, 2015 Wildcat First Down I woke up last Monday to a troop of cub scouts using my intestines to earn their knot-tying badges. My head was caught in a vise. My limbs weighed more than the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line. It was a rude awakening. It took a few days to recover, and, frankly, I’m still not sure how those cub scouts snuck in our home. I’d like to say that such an illness was the reason I did not post a Wildcat First Down column last week… Alas, I normally write these on Sunday, and I was feeling fine over the weekend. Instead, my weekly post did not happen because, well, life did. No excuses. I have been thinking about that phrase: no excuses. As K-State fans, we have seen some bad football this season. Six-game losing streaks don’t happen as a result of bad luck. Yet, the Wildcats have seen their share of that, too. When your starting quarterback limps off the field on the season’s first offensive drive, that’s bad luck. More injuries followed, to the point where Bill Snyder considered adding the ER theme song to the team’s warm-up playlist. (Editor’s note: Fact unconfirmed.) At times, the season has seemed more like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon than a collection of football games. Yet, the Wildcats enter Saturday’s game against West Virginia with a chance to secure bowl eligibility. Throughout the injuries, the struggles, the losses, Bill Snyder and his players alike did not cite injuries as problems or talk about what could have been. The message remained, and continues to remain, consistent: this team needs to improve. Even after Saturday’s dismantling of Kansas – a game where our mythically feathered friends down the road gave us a reminder of what truly ugly football can look like – Snyder’s message remained the same. “Well, we are a team that’s hasn’t put two halves together yet,” Snyder said. “We need to start being consistent and finish, we haven’t done that.” No “woe is me… err, us” talk after losses. No painting of sunshine and daisies across every quote after wins. One consistent message. No excuses. On the hardwood, the K-State men’s basketball team saw more departures and arrivals over the summer than most international airports. They lost Marcus Foster, a player who was so talented as a freshman that some fans (possibly including myself) proclaimed that he was the way, the truth, and the light for Wildcat basketball. He would right all wrongs. He would lead K-State to glory. Instead, Foster led the Wildcats to a 15-17 record and a first-place finish in the “These guys hate playing with each other, don’t they?” standings. Foster is gone, along with 346 other Wildcat basketball players (number approximate). In their absence, a strange thing has happened. The Wildcats are playing quality basketball, and they look like they are having fun doing it. K-State won its first four games of the season before falling to North Carolina in a game they led late. Wesley Iwundu is becoming an all-round weapon. Justin Edwards and Stephen Hurt look like the strong additions we thought we’d see last year. And freshmen like Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes are contributing much more than some fans (read: I) expected early on. There is a lot of basketball season left, but the Wildcats are starting strong, while they could have potentially excused a slow start by shouting “Look at all these new guys!” and spinning in circles. They are 5-1 and playing – at times – like a team that has been together for three years, not three months. After the loss to North Carolina, Weber talked about where things came apart late. “The last 2‐3 minutes they turned it up a notch and we got a little hesitant and made some mistakes,” Weber said. “They hit some big shots. You have to give them a lot of credit. At the same time we broke down on some little things on the defensive end. We have to get better offensively too.” No excuses. It’s a good motto to live by; to embrace every day. Lose track of an assignment at work and miss a deadline? No excuses. Forget that your wife asked you to pick up new toothbrushes at the store? No excuses. (Sorry, dear.) Miss posting a blog because you’re spending time with family? No excuses. Now let’s hope this excuse-free lifestyle can have us bowling over the holidays and dancing in March.