Some flash talking points after last night’s KU v. K-State game and a closing point about the Big 12. We’ll even get all the way to West Virginia, which is slightly closer to my house than the distance Svi Mykhailiuk traveled on his way to a “Svi for Three! (or Four!)” #WalkChalk win …
More “Mean Dean” and less of the “Wade Fade” – You can only have so many “breakout” games before you’re just known as a spotty performer. K-State’s Dean Wade, in the middle of his sophomore season, can see that fork on the horizon. He was good against Kansas, scoring 20 points on a decent shooting night, and it’s no coincidence that his unranked team nearly stole a roadie against a Top 5 opponent. This performance came on the heels of scoring 18 against Texas, and Wade has now hit double-figures in six of his last seven games. If he keeps this up (and never, ever repeats his 0 pts, 5 reb, 2 shots in 33 minutes outing against Maryland) , K-State could find itself in a pretty sweet fight for fourth or so in the Big 12 standings, which isn’t bad considering how tough the Conference appears to be in 2017.
Poise is nice – For all the hell (some of it deserved) Bruce Weber caught from detractors for having to tear down his roster mid-cycle, he should get a ton of credit for molding this group in little over a season. The Wildcats took their lumps last year as virtually the entire roster was new, but at 12-2, 1-1, K-State has a group that walked into Allen Fieldhouse, built a lead, blew a lead, got down big, and then forced overtime almost won anyways. Weber has guards who can shoot reasonably well, a foul-prone but energetic big man inside, and an X-factor in Wade who causes matchup problems in a hurry when he’s on. Put poise on top of that, and K-State should be in position to win more often than not.
Why the League is up overall – Nine other fanbases like to look at the Jayhawks every year and dream that KU has some exhaust port entry flaw leading to its core – just like the Death Star. Usually, that’s not reality, but after TCU and K-State both took KU to the wire and Texas Tech knocked off West Virginia in overtime, there are real signs that the Big 12 Conference could be a seven or eight-strong beautiful mess heading into March. Oklahoma isn’t good, and Texas has a long way to go, but everyone else seems surprisingly stout.
Why the League isn’t up, actually – There is a lot of assumption in that last point – all stemming from a couple games’ worth of competition that saw Texas Tech and TCU turn in back-to-back noticeable performances, along with K-State’s near-miss in Lawrence. However, that assumption leans really hard on watching TCU and K-State – two preseason picks to struggle – nearly topple KU. If KU had decimated both, would I think the Big 12 was as good as I do today? Probably not. So, I’m left wondering is it the League that’s better? Or, is it KU isn’t quite what I thought it is?