“They are who we thought they were.”
At this point, it’s nearly safe to say that to this point in the season, the Kansas State Wildcats men’s basketball team has been who we thought they were going to be before the season started.
They’d be talented, but inconsistent. They’d be able to play with the best, but also play down to the bad teams. They’d have a surprise victory and a puzzling defeat.
We’ve had all that, there’s no doubt.
But it may be time to throw that out of the window; at least put a pause on those results. The season has now changed. With Kamau Stokes now out indefinitely, things can be entirely different for Bruce Weber’s basketball squad.
Kamau was the point guard, the on-court leader for this squad. As Kam went, often the team went too. Against Iowa State, Kam went off and his fellow juniors Dean Wade and barry brown went off too and the Cats won big time. Against West Virginia Kam went cold and the team struggled fighting back against a tough Mountaineer squad. Same story against Texas Tech before Kam left the floor with injury.
And therein lies a positive. After Kam left, the Cats buckled down and started to make a comeback. Ultimately Tech showed itself to be the better team and pulled away, but for a moment, the Cats looked good again.
That may have just been a survival reaction. But we should know for sure in short order tonight. Redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra will earn his first start of the season, and will take over the point duties from Stokes. True freshman Mike McGuirl will have his redshirt burnt, and is likely to see game action as a reserve point.
It’s going to look different. But it’s not necessarily disaster. For one, Weber is 4-1 at home against OSU during his time in Manhattan. Also:
Looking for reasons to believe Kansas State can win at Kansas on Saturday? I found one. The last time Kam Stokes got seriously injured, Kansas State beat No. 1 Oklahoma 2 games later. #JustGoWithIt— Ahearn Alley (@AhearnAlley) January 8, 2018
So, there’s that.
On the other side of the court is the visiting Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Pokes were picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason rankings, two spots lower than K-State, and enter tonight’s game with an identical 11-4, 1-2. Like K-State, their sole Big 12 win is over Iowa State, but the Pokes needed overtime at home to finish off the Cyclones.
Even with a new coach this season, the Cowboys play a style a bit familiar to K-State fans. Mike Boynton got the job after Brad Underwood left for Illinois after one season in Stillwater. Boynton was Underwood’s chief assistant last season, and had previously served under Frank Martin during Martin’s first season at South Carolina. Boyton’s squad is led by senior guard Jeffery Carroll, who is one of three Cowboys who are averaging double-figures this season.
Tonight’s game, scheduled for a 7:01 p.m. CST tip-off, will be on ESPNNews/ESPN3 with Lowell Galindo (play-by-play) and Lance Blanks (analyst) on the call. Be sure and check out Jon Morse’s full How To Watch post for more details.
The game can be heard over-the-air on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call (you can also listen online for free at TuneIn.com or at KStateSports.com). Satellite radio is available on Sirius 135, XM 199, and “Internet” 953.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State (11-4, 1-2 Big 12)
G: #2 Cartier Diarra
G: #5 Barry Brown Jr.
G: #20 Xavier Sneed
F: #32 Dean Wade
F: #14 Makol Mawien
Oklahoma State (11-4, 1-2 Big 12)
G: #1 Kendall Smith
G: #30 Jeffrey Carroll
F: #5 Tavarius Shine
F: #35 Yankuba Sima
C: #41 Mitchell Solomon