Just days after his team lost to Kansas on Feb. 11, Kansas State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber turned to another coach on campus.
Weber enlisted the help of Bill Snyder to speak with his team prior to a game with Baylor the following Saturday. The Wildcats haven’t lost a game since.
Weber said Snyder gave them a message that helped drive them forward.
“That was really good timing having coach Snyder talk to them, and we’ve kind of followed that philosophy, just be 1-0,” Weber said. “If you’re 1-0 you stay in first and we’ve been able to do that since he talked to us.”
Weber said he approached Snyder earlier this season, looking to include him among the several speakers that have visited with the team. But Snyder joked early on that the team was playing too good for him to mess it up.
After K-State lost at KU, Weber went back to get a message from the most influential coach on campus.
“I came back and asked if he had 15 minutes to talk to the guys — the kids really respect him, he’s an icon on this campus and in this state and really in the country,” he said. “He was very right to the point and I thought he said some good things.”
K-State’s four-game winning streak began with an 81-61 win over the Bears at home, a team they will play on the road on Saturday.
The Wildcats averted a 12-0 run in the first matchup with Baylor and managed to pull away late in an 81-61 win. Baylor had 19 turnovers in the game and got outrebounded.
Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson was contained by Angel Rodriguez, scoring his lowest total of the season with just seven points, his only game this season scoring outside of double figures. Jackson is the Bears leading scorer at 19 points per game.
Rodriguez led the Wildcats with a 22-point, 10-assist performance and Shane Southwell finished with 18 points on six 3s.
Weber said it might be tough to hold Jackson to those lower numbers again.
“We were successful because Angel limited him, I don’t know if you can stop him,” he said. “He can do so many things. The thing you don’t want to do is get him mad, because when he gets mad he gets going, it’s tough to stop him.”
Weber said the Bears’ explosive offense starts with Jackson’s ability to draw pressure, and put pressure back on the defense. Baylor has a number of targets for Jackson to get the ball to, including 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin.
Austin was another player that struggled in the first matchup between the teams, but Weber said he has come around since then, including Baylor’s 65-62 win over West Virginia on Wednesday — snapping a 3-game losing streak that began in Manhattan.
“I think he hit a little freshman wall around our game, and a little after,” he said. “Now the light is at the end of the tunnel, they’re trying to win, they’re playing with more emotion and he was part of that. I don’t think we gave him too many easy looks in the game and he never got going.”
As of Wednesday this week, the Wildcats are one of three teams that earned a bye at the Big 12 tournament March 13-19 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Wildcats will play their first game on Thursday, March 14.
K-State’s senior class became the winningest group in school history with its win over Texas Tech on Monday, giving it 97 wins in four seasons. At this point, the Wildcats are guaranteed to play at least five more games this season.
Weber explains situation for Thomas
Weber said on Thursday that Jevon Thomas is living in Manhattan and plans to enroll this month as a mid-semester enrollee.
Thomas attended two prep schools and is now trying to get academically eligible based on new rules put in place by the NCAA. A release from the school on Wednesday said Thomas would not be eligible until the second semester of the 2013-14 season.
“He was a prep school kid, so as soon as he was done with his games, he was pretty much done with the year,” Weber said. “The NCAA does have some different situations with academics now and they’re kind of dealing with it differently. We hope he’s going to be enrolled full-time here in March, be here all summer, get in good academic standing and then kind of move forward.”