KSAL Staff - December 2, 2013 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Kansas State’s football team finished their regular season with a 7-5 record and a sure invitation to a bowl game. And Coach Bill Snyder led the Wildcats to yet another thumping of KU, 31-10.
Snyder will have most of his key players back next season, plus his normal number of quality recruits. Quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams will return for another season, along with wide receiver Tyler Lockett and center B.J. Finney. That’s a solid foundation for another potent offense.
K-State loses just four starters on defense and will have better depth and talent next year. Kansas State will have another nationally ranked football team in 2014.
The only potential problem hovering over the K-State program is whether or not 74-year-old Bill Snyder will decide to coach another year. Only Snyder knows the answer to that question.
Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger is on a seat that is not just hot, it’s nearing a flashpoint. Zenger hired Charlie Weis as KU’s head coach two years ago and there’s been no appreciable improvement in the football program.
After the K-State game, Zenger said, “I’ve been through many rebuilding projects, and this is when you stay the course.” KU fans can only hope he’s right.
Kansas cannot afford another dismal football season: The recruiting will be even more challenging and there’s no basis for believing Weis will have a competitive team next season.
As for solutions to a very old and complex problem, that’s up to Sheahon Zenger. If KU’s recruiting is as poor as the last two classes, then the Jayhawks will continue to reside at the bottom of the barrel.
Wichita State University’s basketball team is quickly proving that last season’s trip to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament was no fluke. The Shockers moved their record to 7-0 with a 75-62 win over a talented BYU team in the championship game of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.
Wichita’s win in the title game was much closer that the score indicates; it was a rough and tumble game right from the tipoff. Coach Gregg Marshall is in his sixth season as head coach of the Shockers. Marshall’s teams are noted for their tough defense and effective offense—the current team matches that description.
Wichita has two players who could start for most teams in the nation: Scott City’s Ron Baker (6-3, 213) and Cleanthony Early (6-8, 219). Baker and Early are talented and intense competitors.
Baker is a sophomore guard and his game-situation awareness is remarkable for a young player. He makes unnoticed plays that save possessions and is developing into a shutdown defender. In addition, Baker is an adept ball handler and deadly shooter.
Small forward Early is the Shockers’ most potent inside offensive player; he’s highly effective on shots in the pivot area and he can also shoot from long range. Early is a senior and has NBA potential—he’s off to a great start in his last season at Wichita.
Gregg Marshall is worth his weight in gold as Wichita’s head coach. The administration should do almost anything they can—financially and otherwise—to keep Marshall as their head coach. He’s a winner in every respect.
Kansas lost their second game in the Battle 4 Atlantis basketball tournament in the Bahamas. KU’s freshmen played like freshmen, losing 63-59 to Villanova. The Jayhawks won 67-63 in a sloppy consolation game against UTEP.
In KU’s losing effort against Villanova, several weaknesses were exposed. Most notable was the Jayhawks’ atrocious shooting from the three-point line.
Point guard Naadir Tharpe and small forward Andrew Wiggins have not been playing up to their capability. Freshman point guard Frank Mason has been one of KU’s best players, but Coach Bill Self needs Tharpe playing at a high level for KU’s offense to run smoothly.
In order to improve KU’s three-point shooting, Self might have to find more playing time for guards Conner Frankamp and Andrew White. The problem, however, is that Frankamp and White have been missing their shots when they do get playing time.
KU’s next two games are true road games at Colorado on Saturday (Dec. 7) and at Florida on Tuesday (Dec. 10). The Jayhawks’ play in the recent tournament left no doubt that these next games will be challenging indeed.
Early road games against quality opponents will pay dividends when it counts the most. Self said, “I think we are taking away we have a long way to go to becoming a good basketball team. That’s not bad, either. We rarely have great teams in November”. Kansas is going to have another excellent basketball team, but it’s going to take some time.