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Old 12-29-2004, 10:19 AM  
redbrian redbrian is offline
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Still wondering if Wildcats are for real

MANHATTAN, Kan. — On Tuesday night, I went to see Kansas State play Rutgers because I wanted to find out if the Wildcats were for real. They came into this game undefeated, you know. They had a chance to match their best start in eight years.

What did that mean? I didn't know. Nobody knew. Was it just a fluke? Was it a product of a lousy early schedule? Or was men's basketball back at Kansas State? Was there an actual stirring at the school of Jack Hartman, Bob Boozer, Rolando Blackman and Mitch Richmond?

More than 10,000 fans — many of whom had been in hiding (and at women's basketball games) for years — showed up, too. It was, by far, the largest crowd of the season, about double the crowd of the last five games.

The fans obviously had the same questions.

We all saw the Wildcats lose to Rutgers by 10 points.

And we still have absolutely no idea how good they are.

“Had we won, people might have said that this team is for real and going in the right direction,” K-State coach Jim Wooldridge said. “I still think we can be for real.”

This game was a great opportunity. Rutgers isn't bad. The Scarlet Knights were NIT runners-up last season. They have a couple of good guards. A win would not have led off “SportsCenter,” but it would have made K-State 9-0; it would have been the best home non-conference win in some time; it even might have encouraged a generous voter or two to give Kansas State a top 25 vote.

And a win would have set off those fans. Kansas State has a remarkably light early season schedule. Had the Wildcats won this game, it wouldn't have taken much to see them winning at Nebraska, beating Texas Tech and Missouri at home, going to Texas A&M and winning, beating Iowa State — suddenly, they would be 16-0.

Oh yeah, a win could have set off the dreamers.

Instead, those two Rutgers guards — Quincy Douby and Ricky Shields — made long three-pointers, and just 8:30 into the game, the Scarlet Knights led by 15. The dreamers started thinking about football recruiting again.

“I don't think they were any better than us,” Kansas State's Fred Peete said. “They just made more shots.”

Well, unfortunately, that's still how they keep score. The Wildcats did come back. They played hard. Once, they cut the deficit to two points. Then, Cartier Martin stepped out of bounds as he drove to the basket. Another time, they were down four. That's when freshman Clent Stewart lost a pass in the backcourt.

It was like that.

“When you fall behind by 15, a lot of things have to go right,” Wooldridge said. “I don't know about you, but I never felt we found a rhythm or tempo tonight.”

The question remains: Is this team better than the Kansas State teams of recent years? It was hard to see on Tuesday. It might have just been one of those nights — the Wildcats' leading scorer, Jeremiah Massey, was two for 12 and plainly missed a lot of shots he would normally make. Those two Rutgers guards made some astounding shots (and Douby, just a sophomore, is clearly a pretty special player).

“They just kept hitting the three-ball,” Massey said. “Not every team is going to come in here and make those shots.”

Then, it might have been that Kansas State played a decent team — clearly the best team the Wildcats have faced all year — and simply were not good enough to win at home in front of a pretty lively crowd.

“It hurts a lot,” Massey said. “It takes a lot to win over the fans here at Kansas State. We had to win them over to get them to come out. Right now, we might not have a thousand people when we play Thursday (against Eastern Illinois).”

Actually, I think the Kansas State fans are still intrigued, even after this loss. This, after all, was a basketball school for a long, long time. Some of that still runs in the blood. As the Wildcats ran off the court Tuesday, a few hundred fans stood by the tunnel and applauded. As one man shouted, “Hey, we're still 8-1. That's not bad.”

No, it's not bad. But how good is it? There were no answers on this Tuesday.

To reach Joe Posnanski, call (816) 234-4361 or send e-mail to jposnanski@kcstar.com.
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Old 12-29-2004, 10:57 AM   #2
Cochise Cochise is offline
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I wonder why there wasn't a Saul thread about this one... K-State playing a decent team and all...

Once again proving that records and rankings mean Raiders this time of year.
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:02 AM   #3
WarCry! WarCry! is offline
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Go Wichita State - the team who went on the road and beat a big east team better than Rutgers! WSU - 8 and 0 baby!!!
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:03 AM   #4
Saulbadguy Saulbadguy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cochise
I wonder why there wasn't a Saul thread about this one... K-State playing a decent team and all...

Once again proving that records and rankings mean Raiders this time of year.
Because I was at the game..

You are pretty much right though, records and rankings mean nothing, but I, and many others are still excited for this season. This was their first "real" test IMO. Their first 4 conference games should also be a good measuring stick to see how good this team is. @NU, Texas Tech, MU, and @Texas A&M.
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarCry!
Go Wichita State - the team who went on the road and beat a big east team better than Rutgers! WSU - 8 and 0 baby!!!

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo SHOCK!
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:11 AM   #6
Cochise Cochise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saulbadguy
Their first 4 conference games should also be a good measuring stick to see how good this team is. @NU, Texas Tech, MU, and @Texas A&M.
The best of those teams last year was Texas Tech and they were only 5th in the conference. Nebraska was bad in conference play, Missouri lost key players and is not in good shape so far, and A&M is the 0-16 conference bottom feeder. Even winning all 4 of those games would only prove that K-State belongs in the middle of the pack. Show me a win against an OSU, Texas, Kansas, etc. Beating marginal teams isnt going to prove anything.
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:14 AM   #7
Saulbadguy Saulbadguy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cochise
The best of those teams last year was Texas Tech and they were only 5th in the conference. Nebraska was bad in conference play, Missouri lost key players and is not in good shape so far, and A&M is the 0-16 conference bottom feeder. Even winning all 4 of those games would only prove that K-State belongs in the middle of the pack. Show me a win against an OSU, Texas, Kansas, etc. Beating marginal teams isnt going to prove anything.
I think most if not all KSU fans would be happy with "middle of the pack."

Remember, we were 6-10 in conference play last year. 8-8 would be good, and a winning record in conference would be absolutely fantastic.

As far as beating the upper tier, I feel our only opportunities this year will come at home, vs OU, and KU. We play OSU at Stoolwater and Texas at Austin.
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saulbadguy
I think most if not all KSU fans would be happy with "middle of the pack."

Remember, we were 6-10 in conference play last year. 8-8 would be good, and a winning record in conference would be absolutely fantastic.

As far as beating the upper tier, I feel our only opportunities this year will come at home, vs OU, and KU. We play OSU at Stoolwater and Texas at Austin.
What gives you hope of beating KU anywhere?
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:22 AM   #9
Cochise Cochise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saulbadguy
I think most if not all KSU fans would be happy with "middle of the pack."
Well they will put on at least as good of a conference performance as the football team.
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Old 12-29-2004, 11:23 AM   #10
Cochise Cochise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Towne
What gives you hope of beating KU anywhere?
Maybe he's talking about shuffleboard or something.
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Old 12-29-2004, 12:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cochise
Maybe he's talking about shuffleboard or something.
I think he was talking about football.........oh....wait........nevermind....

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Old 12-29-2004, 12:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip Towne
What gives you hope of beating KU anywhere?
The fact that KU beat KSU in football this year. And that Vermont played KU in a close game, and the KU/KSU games were close last year, etc., etc.
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Old 01-02-2005, 01:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saulbadguy
I think most if not all KSU fans would be happy with "middle of the pack."

Remember, we were 6-10 in conference play last year. 8-8 would be good, and a winning record in conference would be absolutely fantastic.

As far as beating the upper tier, I feel our only opportunities this year will come at home, vs OU, and KU. We play OSU at Stoolwater and Texas at Austin.

8-8 won't get us in. Not with this schedule. Have to be above .500 probably to get in now.
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