As long as the gears turn in the Kansas State basketball program there will be coaching alumni, and Bramlage Coliseum has now hosted several this season alone — though few on the women’s side.
Seventh-seeded K-State’s 67-54 over 10th-seeded Drake Saturday afternoon provided a return trip for Bulldogs coach Jennie Baranczyk, who served as a K-State assistant from 2004-06 and who received her master’s degree from K-State in counseling and student development in 2007.
Now in her fifth season coaching Drake, Baranczyk led K-State to an NIT championship in 2006.
Baranczyk, of course, would have liked the visit more with a win, but she said walking the halls of Bramlage nonetheless invoked memories.
“There’s a lot of tradition here. It’s a great program,” Baranczyk said. “I learned a lot. I carried a lot with me.”
But her team had a game to win, so she said she couldn’t afford to spend too much time reminiscing.
“It’s nice to go down memory lane when you come back,” Baranczyk said, “but I was not really worried about that piece. I was really wanting to focus on (that) we have a really special team and a really special program. That’s where my focus was.”
K-State, who advanced to face second-seeded Stanford Monday night, handed Baranczyk’s team its first loss since Dec. 21, snapping a 22-game win streak — then the second-longest active streak in the country.
It was a loss that rendered Baranczyk emotional postgame.
“We’ll get into reflective mode at some point,” she said, fighting back tears, “because every time that I start to go there, tears start to come.”
It’s not the first time K-State has hosted an alumnus this year. Then-Oklahoma State men’s coach Brad Underwood visited on Feb. 22 — “Coming back in here, it was different,” he said after the game — and Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger returned Jan. 7 for a matchup with the Wildcats.
K-State’s basketball roots stretch far and wide into the nation, and Baranczyk’s homecoming of sorts likely won’t be the program’s last.
The gears will continue to turn next season, after all.