Fridays at The Salute

Fridays at The Salute

The subject of the week and maybe even the past month has been Bruce Weber and whether he is competent enough to continue on as Kansas State’s basketball coach. Dara wrote an open letter on Wednesday. Mike used facts to support his stance on Weber. Today I will attempt to take a different look at what may be the biggest factor in a coach’s career: The players.

When I was in school, this season would have been average to above average. Wooldridge did a great job of keeping what few fans that were still clinging to hope positive. His last few years he did recruit better and landed Cartier Martin, Lance Harris and Clent Stewart.

Then Huggins came in for his one-and-done season and brought a lot of momentum with him. He added a few players to the roster in Blake Young and Jermaine Maybank and still had Martin, Harris and Stewart on as upperclassmen. He did a decent job recruiting in his lone year.

When Frank Martin moved over a chair on the bench from associate head coach to head coach, he was left with a few freshmen you may remember. Michael Beasley, Bill Walker and Jacob Pullen. What a way to jump start your collegiate coaching career! Beasley and Walker left for the NBA after one season, but arguably the greatest Wildcat of all time stayed true and flourished.

Jacob Pullen played in 135 games during his career in Manhattan. During his four seasons Kansas State went 95-43 overall, 40-24 in the Big 12, 1-1 in the NIT and 5-3 in the NCAA tournament with an Elite Eight run.

Here’s a new question to add to “Which came first?” who should be credited for the success? Frank Martin was the fastest to 100-wins. Pullen was an elite player and on-court leader. So which is it? The chicken or the egg?

Bruce Weber jumped into a great spot when he landed at Kansas State with great on-court leaders in place. Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling demonstrated great leadership and led the Wildcats to a Big 12 title, the first since 1977 in Weber’s first season.

Last season the on-court leaders could have been Thomas Gipson and Shane Southwell, but Marcus Foster came on fast and strong and willed the team to several close wins. Gipson remains on this year’s team as the same dependable and consistent player he has been for four years now.

The biggest change is the attitude of Marcus Foster. No longer is he the overlooked, three-star prospect from Wichita Falls, TX. He garnered a lot of attention after last season, which placed him on several preseason lists. His leadership, however, is missing. Maybe we mistakenly took his performance as being a leader and now that we need another leader on this team and he isn’t performing to the same level it’s missing.

At a time when we need someone to show us how to succeed, Bruce Weber is getting killed on social media for being a leader and benching his star player for not doing things the right way. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win, but I want to win the right way. I don’t want to have an undisciplined team for the youth of Manhattan to look up to. I want a coach and a roster full of good kids.

There’s another coach in town that’s had decent success by not sacrificing the integrity and quality of the players. He’s taught us that doing things consistently right is still one option to having a successful program.

We have a leader in place that is trying to do the right thing by his players. It’s time for his players to learn the lessons and become leaders.

About The Author

Ryan was born and raised around the “Little Apple”, and is a life-long Kansas State fan and 2007 graduate. He is also a lover of all things Tallgrass Brewing. Was once quoted on November 11, 2006 as saying, "If we beat Texas, I will get a Powercat tattooed on my ass!"

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