Open Mike: If it’s broke… Mike Tufano December 11, 2014 Features, Open Mike Thursdays at The Salute I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s one that applies amazingly well to sports. Fan bases get insanely jealous of another program’s success and forgets that for every team that makes it to the Final Four there were 16 teams that didn’t. In fact, only 68 of the 351 programs even make it into the tournament. But as fans we look at ours, and we look at those top 4, and we say, “why not us?” So coaching tenures get shortened, expectations get heightened, and we struggle through every missed show and untouched rebound. But after sitting through Tuesday night’s win over Bradley in Bramlage Coliseum, it’s awfully tough to apply the “If it ain’t broke” mantra. The truth is, something is broken. The question is, can it be fixed? Broken: Rebounding Last year K-State was given somewhat of a pass. Through various reasons there was no size on the team. When you’re playing with a 6’7″ big man, you’re going to be undersized in most games. In comes a pair of 6’11” players, and everything is supposed to change. But instead Stephen Hurt, who sat out Tuesday night’s game, has turned out to be a player who is more comfortable as a 4 than a 5, and Brandon Bolden is averaging just 3.4 minutes a game. Take out the rebounding that was lost to graduation and the Cats are now just 261st in that nation for rebounding. Broken: Shooting Think 261st is bad? K-State is 299th in opponents field goal percentage, but only 123rd in points per game. As simple as it sounds, when you can’t shoot, you can’t win. Of the 9 games K-State has played, there are 4 that I’d put into the category of purely ugly. It’s not the 4 losses though. Sub out the loss to Arizona and add in the win against Bradley, and you have your 4 uglies. In those games the Cats made 19-71 for threes. That’s a paltry 26.7% compared to the 50% they’ve show in the other 5 games. With Marcus Foster accounting for 21% of the team’s scoring, and 52% of the team’s 3s, there’s no question that as Marcus Foster goes, K-State goes. Broken: Turnovers You can’t win games when you can’t hold on to the ball. K-State currently sits just under 1 in the assists to turnover ratio, with 3 more turnovers than assists on the season. It’s careless ball handling, and a lot of mistakes on alley-oops and other passes that feel like they should be sure things. If you’re regularly playing halves of basketball with more turnovers than field goals, something is certainly broken. Broken: Psyche And now for the one that can’t be measured in stats. Emotional fan comparisons are now being made to the Wooldridge era of K-State basketball. But any logical assessment sees the difference. K-State was in a dark age of basketball with very little talent that beat them down. That’s not what this team is. And that might be what makes it more frustrating. This is a team with a ton of ability. Yes, they’re young. But when you watch them you know they can just do better. And while Bruce Weber gives excuses in the interviews to try to ease K-State fans, those excuses shouldn’t be filtering down to the players. Last year the Cats started 3-3 and made it to the NCAA Tournament. It wasn’t a high point season, but for those of us who have long enough memories to look back on the dark ages of K-State basketball, we know it was far from a low. In November it was broke, and in December they found a way to fix it. This year’s breaks have now crept into December. And with just four games left in non-conference play, including two winnable games against SEC opponents, the time to fix it is running out. It’s broke. Now let’s fix it.