Well, the season opener could have gone better. Of course it certainly could’ve gone much worse as well, but an 82-69 loss in Las Vegas to #21 USC was probably not quite Jerome Tang had in mind for the opening game of his second season at Kansas State.
But it was a good loss in a way; as Tang said himself, they discovered their flaws quickly to open the season, which gives the team and staff much more time to work on things than if they hadn’t been truly tested until later in the season. So it’s a tough loss, but should prove to be a solid benchmark for this team this season.
Moving on, the Wildcats get to finally play a game at the Octagon of Doom, and open their brief homestand tonight as they welcome in the Knights of Bellarmine University. Bellarmine should prove much less of a challenge for the Wildcats, as the Knights were picked to finish 6th in the ASUN conference by the leagues coaches. The Knights, led by longtime head coach Scott Daveport, were once a power in NCAA Division II, and had a solid first full (non-COVID) season in 2021-22 going 20-13 including winning the ASUN tournament. But the Knights fell off last season, going 15-18, but opening the season with a big win over cross-town rival Louisville. So while the Knights may not be great, they are good for the occasional upset.
The Knights, like the Cats, are 0-1 to start the season after taking a 91-57 beating at the hands of Washington in Seattle. Preseason All-ASUN honoree Garrett Tipton was held without a made basket in the loss, while the Knights were led by super-senior Bash Wieland. Tipton and Wieland, both starting guards for the Knights, have been with the program since it was in DII, and should still know a thing or two about winning basketball.
So this should be a game that’s over by halftime, but don’t be surprised if Bellarmine stays in it longer than expected. Especially if the Cats haven’t started to clean things up this week from that sloppy loss in Nevada to open the week.
Tonight’s matchup is scheduled for a 7pm CT tip at Bramlage Colisuem and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Ben Boyle (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst), Missy Heidrick (sideline reporter) on the call. You’ll also be able to hear the game online at K-StateSports.com (and via the Varsity Network app), plus parts of the K-State Sports Radio Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (analyst) calling the action over there.