Nino. Gip. Jevon. Tre. Rohleder. Mike Tufano February 19, 2015 Features, Open Mike Thursdays at The Salute It takes a lot to make TCU look good. It takes even more to make them look like 1968 UCLA. But somehow the Cats did it last night. Trent Johnson said after the game that the first half was the best basketball that they’ve played all season. There’s no doubt that’s true. But even at their best, it just shouldn’t be good enough to beat this K-State team. But this K-State team with no energy, no passion, and no hard play? It was enough to build a 20 point lead by halftime. Like any other K-State fan watching last night, I was disgusted. I sat in that high school gymnasium that TCU is calling their home court this year, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’ve always known that for a big enough event, the atmosphere can feel electric. I’ve seen it. But before last night I didn’t realize that it was actually possible to feel the chill of a lack of electricity clear to your bones. But there I sat, watching the 5 year old jump rope halftime show, knowing that this might be the lowest point in any of our lives. The hole was too deep, the team was too dead, and all of our wildest dreams for the season1 were over. Then the 2nd half began. Wait, what was that lineup? Nino. Gip. Jevon. Tre. Rohleder. Clearly Bruce was trying to send a message. A message he’d later simply express as “I just want guys that care.” And it seemed he found his five that did. And only those 5. For the next 7 and a half minutes we didn’t see anyone else take the floor for K-State. And during that span the deficit decreased from 20 to 7. I started to wonder if we could play the rest of the half with just 5 guys. And just then my question was answered. Marcus Foster checked into the game, and the rotations started… and the deficit began to grow again. Later in the 2nd half the energy clearly returned as the lineup made a 2nd appearance, but they were just too gassed, and it was too little, too late. The hole was already too deep. And K-State found a way to lose an embarrassing game in an embarrassing way. And there are no excuses. You can’t blame the atmosphere2. There are no major injuries to blame. No suspensions. No jet lag. Just a team of players and coaches that seem to be dancing around each other in a battle of wills in which there simply is no winner. But those 5… Nino. Gip. Jevon. Tre. Rohleder. If you told me a month ago that those 5 would be in the game at the same time, I’d be concerned. Now? I’d like to see them start on Saturday. Make no mistake about it. This season is over. Yes, there will be more games. More chances for some nice wins. There may be a post season tournament to be played3. But the window of opportunities for success have closed. Now it’s just finding a way to get some momentum to build from here. Unless he pulls a Frank Haith4, Bruce will be back next season. Many of the players will be back next season. Some we know won’t, and others may leave as well. But there’s one opportunity to move forward. And that momentum starts now. So tattoo this lineup on your forehead: Nino. Gip. Jevon. Tre. Rohleder. They care. They’re playing hard. And there’s nothing left to lose… Notes: Like not having to play on the first day of the Big 12 Tournament… I mean, our dreams are kind of small now. [↩] Even though the crowd was small, it was close to 50-50 K-State fans [↩] Even the CBI. Yikes. [↩] Upset fan base? Head to a smaller school where they’re happy to have you [↩] K-State fans, we salute you!