I don't remember why, but on Saturday December 2nd, 1961, a month before I turned eight, I sat in my room with a radio and listened to Dev Nelson call Kansas State vs. new Mexico. We won, 94-52. Not surprising in that we were ranked 8th in the nation. But I was hooked.
I hadn't paid any attention to K-State sports before then, but I was paying attention now. I followed them all through the season.
It's a different world now, but look at that non-conference schedule: Indiana, Marquette, at the invitational we played Xavier and Kentucky. We won the Big 8 pre-season tournament. Lost to CU to open the Big 8 campaign but followed with a very satisfying 25 point win over Kansas.
We rose to 4th in the national polls, and then ranked 3rd, avenged our loss to CU, who was ranked 9th now.
But we went to OSU and ... lost. And losing there meant we wouldn't win the Big 8 title. And without the title - no, absolutely no post-season play. I remember that loss. I was in tears and my Dad said what Dads have to say: "it's only a game."
So we finished 25-3 on the year, ranked 3rd in the country - and didn't go to the NCAA tournament
And that is what K-State basketball has been so often, great achievement that no one sees, and a stumble on the verge of a breakthrough. A loss in a national championship with our best player out, a letdown in a winnable game to get to the final four because we went 2 overtimes in game before it. A failure to 'show up' after we fight our way forward.
But I'm still a fan.