Open Mike: With a Little Help from My Friends Mike Tufano February 27, 2014 Features, Open Mike Wesley Iwundu became a brief viral sensation yesterday. After clips being posted on Deadspin, ESPN, and elsewhere, no one missed their chance to see Wesley celebrate critical free throws that turned the game around with his “invisible friends.” The rest of the basketball world may not have known Iwundu yet, but K-State fans certainly do. While Marcus Foster has come on as the start of K-State basketball, now, and most likely for the next 4 years, Wesley Iwundu is the clear next man up in this fearsome freshman foursome1. While we all know where K-State would be without Marcus Foster, where do you think we’d be without Wesley Iwundu? His points may be a bit more quiet, and his praise a bit more hushed, but just how productive has he been? This season Iwundu has accounted for nearly 10% of the Wildcat scoring2. Add in 50 assists (11.52% of the team’s total), and it’s clear to see how much of a linchpin he has been for the unexpected success of this team. There’s a reason he’s started all but one game this season. And he can do it all. Much like Shane Southwell, who is wrapping up his career, Wesley Iwundu can be comfortable filling the 1-4 spots on the floor when needed. Behind just Thomas Gipson and Southwell, he’s the 3rd leading rebounder for the Cats. And numbers just don’t say it all. Sometimes there are intangible, but obvious, aspects to the game as well. Coming into this class with Marcus Foster, it took no time at all to see the chemistry between the two. When they’re on the floor together, they know where each other are, and they know where each other are going. There’s an element to this of simply learning the offense together, but sometimes there’s just a way that two players can end up on the same wavelength that transcend simple system knowledge. Within the first semester of playing together, it became clear that Iwundu would become Pippen to Foster’s Jordan3. So what did Tuesday night’s air fives say about Wesley? First, he’s a team player. Likely out of pure muscle memory he stepped into the lane looking for his brothers. But it said a lot more than that as well. Because after doing it once, he realized the mistake, saw the humor in it, and took it to the next level by giving a repeat performance. That’s where the brilliance comes in. In the midst of a high pressure moment, Iwundu found a way to laugh at himself, and still drill the free throws. That’s confidence. And you can’t teach that. And when the clock ran out Tuesday night, K-State’s road confidence finally had a way to come back. Perhaps as a direct result of Wesley Iwundu’s confidence to laugh… and win. Notes: Who doesn’t like a little alliteration? [↩] 9.74% to be exact [↩] No, I’m not comparing the combo to Jordan & Pippen… just the dynamics. You get the point [↩] K-State fans, we salute you!