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Two games that made up my mind about Bruce Weber

(Written and posted to GoPowerCat, Jan. 28, 2021)

"Oh what took you so long?" I can hear. Well, I like people to succeed.  I really like good people with good hearts to succeed especially given how many jerks rise to the top in our culture. But ...

Let me wander down memory lane.  I went to my first game in 1962.  I remember watching the final four run on our B&W TV in 64.  I've been there through so many ups and downs, so many "almosts" and "nearlys".  And if you are college age now you have no idea how many times we have been one tip in, one basket, one game away from something special over the years.

Let's go back to the Wooldridge era.  I can hear the groans, but bear with me.  When my father, a KSU prof for 34 years passed away I took some of what I inherited and endowed a (small) scholarship in his name in his old department.  As a reward for that I negotiated a chance to watch a basketball practice. It was just a couple of days before we played #7 ranked Texas in 2006.

I liked Wooldridge for some of the same reasons I've stuck with Weber.  He was a good person.  I thought all the crap he took about his neck brace was so low class.  At the practice I saw a teacher laying out a plan for an undermaned squad to compete with UT.

I went to the game and I saw the exact game plan unfold that he had explained in practice, the team executed it, start to finish.  We lost 64-65.  One point.

That year we were a horrible 6-10 in the Big 12.  And Jim was gone.  And with an overall losing record over 6 years, it was time.

But consider this.  Seven of those 10 losses were by FOUR points or less.  The worst loss was 15 points.

Consider this.  That same year one of his 6 wins was at KU.  In Lawrence.  In Allen.  With a crowd.

A win over Kansas.  No loss worse than 15 points.  Seven by 4 or less.  And out he went.  And I understand why.  No argument from me.

(One other Wooldridge story and then I'll move on to my point.  Did you know that at university as a student, Jim PLAYED in a game in Ahearn?  Scored 6 points.)

And are we really saying, "we're almost as bad as during the Wooldridge years?"  We're saying THAT was the low point of our program?   What would we give to be 6-10 this year—with a win over KU?

My problem with Weber has never been his chaotic media conferences (Dude, people can teach you how to do that better) or that he tried too hard to save Foster or that he hugs players after they feel bad for screwing up instead of screaming profanities at them. 

It's been three things: that he took 3 years off from recruiting,that his teams have so little discipline and the tourney no-shows.  Weber has taught players how to play great defense, there are books on how to attack a zone.  But you just don't see the slow improvement over the year you expect.  In game management, rotating players are ... hard to figure out.

So here is my deal.  Two games.   TA&M here.  KU there.  We now have everyone we're going to have playing.  I want to see competition.  I almost don't even care if we win either one but we are even with TA&M more or less in the rankings (if I can understand them).  But no blowouts.

Fall down on these and I'm done.

One more thing.  That home court winning record.  74 straight years a winning record at home.  No .500 years.  It's rare.  Maybe not unique, but really, really rare.  It's something no one else in our conference can claim.  Right now we are 4-8 with 5 to play.  Lose Saturday and it is gone.  So I guess I really, really do care if we win Saturday.  I've been around for most of this streak.  And to think that in one year: lose to a DII, most lopsided loss ever, and, AND lose the home court record.

I'm sorry Bruce.  You need to go.

(Postscript: We lost the TA&M game due to miscues down the streach, 68-61.)


Updated 1/30/2021; © 2021 John P. Nordin