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SLATE: Looking for good news

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Finding...some? Maybe?

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Tech
Nijel Pack is expected to return for limited minutes Wednesday against No. 2 Baylor.
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for good K-State news on a cold, snowy Tuesday.

Basketball

This probably isn’t the best place to look, huh? Though the results for both the men’s and women’s teams have been depressing, Bruce and the boys will get a boost from the return of freshman guard Nijel Pack who has been in quarantine for the past two weeks. As Drew Schneider points out, his inclusion probably will not be enough secure a Wildcat victory against No. 2 Baylor, but it is vital for this team’s key young pieces to gain experience, and the experience thus far has been much better with the steadying influence of Pack on the floor.

No good news from the women, unfortunately. Against Oklahoma State in Bramlage Coliseum on Monday, Mittie’s squad stuck to the same script that has doomed them in every start of late: playing well early and leading the game before imploding in the fourth quarter. In the most recent case, the Wildcats gave up a 17-3 run over the last five minutes of play to drop a 69-55 decision. The Cats, who were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll, are mired in last place, at 0-5 in conference play, after yielding late runs to the opposition against West Virginia and Kansas, as well.

Football

Here’s something to smile about: Former K-State receiver Byron Pringle will make his second appearance in the Super Bowl after the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the Buffalo Bills 38-24 on Sunday. Pringle, who is normally the Chiefs’ fifth receiver and makes more of a mark on special teams than on the offense, actually was in on as many offensive plays (80%) as any other KC receiver Sunday and caught three passes from Patrick Mahomes in the Chiefs’ victory. Astute fans also noticed Pringle leading the way on Tyreek Hill’s 71-yard catch and clearing the path with a solid block on Mecole Hardman’s short touchdown grab. Wonder where he picked up those receiver blocking skills?

In sad football news, former K-State and NFL running back Don Calhoun has died at age 68. The 6-foot, 215 pound back from Wichita North gained 1,300 yards as both a tailback and fullback at K-State from 1971-73, then played nine NFL seasons as a fullback, blocking for the likes of OJ Simpson and, later, Herschel Walker. Calhoun was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Kellis Robinett runs down the K-State seniors who are taking advantage of the NCAA’s “2020 was not a real football season” exception and returning for another go-around in 2021. Included in the list: quarterback Skylar Thompson, defensive end Bronson Massie, linebacker Cody Fletcher, defensive back Jahron McPherson and center Noah Johnson.

Baseball

In what has been a trying year for K-State athletics, the baseball team will start the season with decent expectations, having been picked just inside the Top-50 nationally. One individual garnering national interest is sophomore left-handed pitcher Jordan Wicks, who has been named a 2021 Preseason All-American by D1Baseball. Wicks was 2019 Big 12 freshman of the year after allowing only one run in 26 innings of work for a 0.35 Earned Run Average. He struck out 26 and walked only 4 in his first year in Manhattan.

Crew

Or is it rowing? We don’t get to write about them much, so forgive us if we’ve offended anyone’s sensibilities by using the wrong term. But head coach Patrick Sweeney announced 11 new additions to the 2021 Fall roster, including eight athletes from the state of Kansas. A peek at the full 2021-22 early commitment group reveals an overwhelming presence of native Kansans joining the roster.