Open Mike: The Jury is Out Mike Tufano December 20, 2012 Open Mike Here we are. 8 months after making a hire that divided K-State fans in unimaginable ways, we’re nearing the end of the non-conference season and even the most optimistic fans are staring to wonder what may become of the Wildcat basketball program1. The Cats are sitting on an 8-2 record, but those 2 losses were ugly, and we’re preparing for an uphill climb towards getting to that 9th win against Florida on Saturday. Much has been said about the motion offense and whether or not Bruce Weber can coach this team into any offensive efficiency. The most negative fans are already calling for his head, even to point of taking joy in the struggles, as though it somehow proves their outlandish ideas of a hire would have been a good thing2. But slow starts and frustrating non cons are nothing new to K-State basketball. The embellished and spit shined legend of Frank Martin hangs over this program, and people forget that it wasn’t always fun. The only way you could describe the Frank Martin era accurately would be to work in as many roller coaster references as possible. Fans seem to remember the ups and conveniently forgotten the downs. So how does this non con season of Weber’s stack up to Franks? 2007-08: 10-4 Losses: George Mason, #17 Oregon, Notre Dame, Xavier Notable Wins: California In Frank’s first season as a head coach the Cats struggled through the non conference. Beasley was the main show, but an OT loss to Oregon3 and a dreadful New Year’s Eve showing against Xavier4 had K-State looking like an NIT team and not the potential Final 4 that that we hoped from the one and done year of Beasley. End Result: 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament 2008-09: 11-3 Losses: Kentucky, Iowa, Oregon Notable Wins: None Life without Beasley was rough. K-State lost 3 non conference games in a row which included games in Las Vegas to unranked, and not very good, Kentucky and Iowa teams and then on Oregon’s home floor. This non-con is best known for the coming out party for Frank’s temper during the Oregon game. End Result: 2nd Round of the NIT 2009-10: 13-1 Losses: Mississippi Notable Wins: Washington State, #18 Dayton, Xavier, #18 UNLV No question the 09-10 season was Frank’s most successful. They cruised through the non conference with the only loss coming to unranked Mississippi in an uninspired performance in Puerto Rico. The wins over Xavier (that set up the classic Sweet 16 match-up) and Lon Kruger’s UNLV team let us know that there was something special happening that season. End Result: Elite 8 2010-11: 12-3 Losses: #1 Duke, Florida, UNLV Notable Wins: #22 Virginia Tech, #18 Gonzaga No team entered a season with more hype during Frank’s tenure than the 10-11 team. After appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated to begin the season the Cats took care of Virginia Tech in Manhattan and Gonzaga in Kansas City at the CBE Classic. They were brought back down to earth with a 68-82 loss to Duke in the finals of that tournament and went on to a completely uninspired loss to Florida, and the infamous Dillard’s game against UNLV. End Result: 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament 2011-12: 11-1 Losses: West Virginia Notable Wins: #23 Alabama Last season’s nonconference had only two notable games, which Frank’s Wildcats split. The first, of course was the double overtime heartbreaker in Wichita to Bob Huggins’ West Virginia team. The second was the win over Alabama in the Sprint Center. We went in not knowing if we’d be able to hang with them, and manhandled them instead. End Result: 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament 2012-13: 8-2 (So far…) Losses: #4 Michigan, #14 Gonzaga Notable Wins: None You know the way people have been screaming this season. No one is happy, and right or wrong the blame is getting thrown at Bruce Weber. The teams that we’ve played that are good are really, really good. Final 4 type good. And Florida is that good as well. The teams that we’ve played that are bad have been, well… really, really bad. We’ve won the games we should have won, and lost the games we should have lost. And we haven’t looked particularly good doing either. But is it really that unlike the previous 5 years? We’re without the drama, but the results are relatively similar. Does that mean Bruce Weber will be a long term success at K-State? Does it mean he’s a failure? No, it means one thing and one thing only… for the rational among us, the jury is still out. End Result: To be continued….Notes: I consider myself among those… I’m frustrated, but I’m not worried… yet [↩] I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… if you’re worried more about Bruce than the team, you’re not a K-State fan. I don’t know what you are, but you don’t represent a true fan [↩] Including the infamous Bill Walker peeing in a towel incident [↩] The only game Beasley had less than 10 points in [↩] K-State fans, we salute you!