The situation in Manhattan looks, to say the least, bleak.
Its Kansas State Wildcats men’s basketball team has lost eight of its last 10 games, most recently a 30-point beatdown at the hands of lowly Oklahoma on Saturday, a shellacking so inexplicable that few are the fans who aren’t calling for coach Bruce Weber’s head.
It’s a grim situation for the Wildcats, who have now lost eight of 10 for the second time in three seasons under a coach whose situation doesn’t look much better.
And yet, it’s a K-State club not without feasible NCAA Tournament hopes. The Wildcats (17-12, 6-10 Big 12) have two regular-season games remaining on the docket — first a road match-up with TCU 8 p.m. Wednesday, then senior day at home against Texas Tech at noon on Saturday — before beginning the Big 12 Tournament, where a win, provided they win these last two regular-season tilts, could propel the Wildcats to the big dance.
It’s a peculiar scenario on several levels, but K-State players know becoming mired in outside happenings won’t do much to help what remains of their season. The next item on their to-do list lies in a TCU squad with an identical 17-12 and 6-10 Big 12 record.
It will be the Horned Frogs’ senior night, though most of their production — at least offensively — has stemmed from young guns. Junior Vladimir Brodziansky leads the team in scoring with 13.5 points, to go along with 5.7 rebounds per game, and sophomore Alex Robinson scores at a 11.2 points-per-game clip.
Freshman Jaylen Fisher gives TCU 10.1 points and 4.2 assists per game as well.
This TCU team just missed knocking off then-No. 12 West Virginia on Saturday, when freshman Desmond Bane airmailed a wide-open, buzzer-beating triple that would have won it for the Horned Frogs.
Instead, the team from Fort Worth, Texas dropped its fifth straight game, a stretch that includes losses to then-No. 6 Baylor, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, then-No. 3 Kansas and West Virginia.
Neither K-State nor TCU will enter Wednesday’s game toting much momentum, and things must become even more dour for Weber knowing that each loss inches him closer and closer to the ax — even now that athletic director John Currie has left for Tennessee.
Weber will likely need solid outings from his usually-reliable players to preserve what remains of his job and of his team’s season. In K-State’s Saturday loss to Oklahoma the only Wildcat to score in double figures was freshman Isaiah Maurice, a forward who scored 11 on Saturday but who sees only an average of 8 minutes a game.
Wesley Iwundu and Kamau Stokes both saw double-digit game streaks of scoring in double figures come to an end in the OU loss.
It may be difficult for K-State to pinpoint positives amid such a grueling stretch, but the Wildcats may need to should they win these last two regular-season games.
But to look so far ahead would be to perpetuate problems to which K-State doesn’t seem to have many answers — the Wildcats may be better suited focusing on the road tilt with TCU Wednesday night.
After all, time is running out for K-State — and Weber.