This season hasn’t gone the way Kansas State wanted. With a 73-67 loss to No. 1 Baylor on Monday, K-State fell to 9-13 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12. Head coach Bruce Weber, and others around the program, are candid: It’s frustrating to lose so often, especially when so many of those setbacks are single-digit affairs.
Junior guard Cartier Diarra is different because he’s shown his irritation — often — during games.
After Diarra picked up a technical foul in the first half for arguing what he viewed as a missed call on a drive to the basket, color commentator Fran Fraschilla, who was on the call for the nationally televised game on ESPN2, didn’t hold back in his assessment of the 6-foot-4 New York native.
“This young man has outstanding talent (but) he’s been coming off the bench as of late,” Fraschilla said. “Listen, I like this kid. He’s a great story. But the body language — I talked to him (about it) before when I came to practice — I don’t think his mind is with Kansas State. I really don’t. I think his mind is on playing professional basketball. This is a mistake for him. This is a mistake. He’s blowing a very good opportunity to be a very good college player.”
Diarra went on to finish with 11 points Monday, the second-best showing on the team and trailing only Xavier Sneed’s game-high 23. Yet it was far from an efficient performance: Diarra went just 3-for-9 from the field and had more turnovers (four) than assists (three).
Though Diarra is far and away the Wildcats’ top assist man — his 105 assists this season are nearly double his closest teammate; David Sloan has 53 — he’s had more turnovers than assists in three consecutive games. He’s been on the wrong side of the assist-to-turnover ledger five times in the past seven contests. Diarra only did that twice in the team’s first 11 games.
After Monday’s loss, K-State head coach Bruce Weber didn’t necessarily dispute Franschilla’s assessment of Diarra. But Weber said that doesn’t make Diarra that different from other players around the country, either.
“I think it’s tough for all young men who are going into their senior year, because they’re worried about their future,” Weber said. “We’ve talked about it with all our guys. You can’t worry about yesterday. You can’t worry about tomorrow. You’ve got to worry about today. It’s really a tough thing to deal with that — the future, the expectations. I love these guys.”
Above all, Weber said he makes sure his players know he wants them to be successful in all their endeavors, at K-State and beyond.
“But I also want them to (know) you’ve got to earn that,” he said. “You do that through what you do daily. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. It’s hard for kids to see that, because there’s so much noise, so many people talking to them. It makes it hard. It’s not just Carti. It’s a lot of kids in the country.”
Weber was asked directly whether he’s shared these opinions with Diarra. He responded by saying he tells all of his players these types of things nearly every day.
“I’ve talked to all these guys the whole year about, ‘Worry about today. Worry about today. Worry about every day. Get better,’” Weber said. “I told Xavier today, ‘Smile. Take a deep breath. Enjoy it. You only get to do it once. You can’t control what’s coming. It’s going to take care of itself if you can control today.’”