By Kevin Kietzman
Bruce Weber has now answered every question at K-State.
Two years ago when athletic director John Currie announced Weber as the new coach at Kansas State, it was greeted with collective yawn by all things purple. Boring hire, recycled coach that couldn't win at Illinois, can't recruit and too nice of a guy to win in today's college basketball is what the critics shouted. I was yawning, too.
A little over a season and half into a tenure Weber says he hopes is his final destination and this coach has done everything they said he couldn't do.
"I don't have to hear whether you're gonna beat (KU) any more, we beat them," Weber told ESPN after K-State's 85-82 overtime win over Kansas Monday night.
There may be a day when beating Kansas at home in the regular season is not the highlight of the year at K-State, but for now, this one single win puts Weber in a whole new position as the coach in Manhattan.
Now that Weber has a win over KU and a remarkable 14-1 home record in Big 12 play, Weber is doing things no K-State coach has done since the days K-State ran side-by-side with their in-state rival. Reagan was President if you can remember that far back. This coach now has a conference co-championship under his belt and is headed to a second straight NCAA tournament thanks to big home wins over Texas and Kansas in the last three days. And this year, nobody is saying Weber is doing it with former coach Frank Martin's players.
That brings us to recruiting. Weber is truly the guy that tries to outwork everyone else in recruiting and he's found a sweet spot in Manhattan. Yes, Manhattan. I don't know when the stereotype will die that you can't recruit players to Manhattan, Bill Snyder doesn't seem to have a huge problem, and look at the advantages Weber has recruiting players to K-State.
Tuesday morning, Holly Rowe of ESPN tweeted that she sees Weber at the Manhattan Airport at 5:00am after he slept for an hour or two. The players are off the day after the game and Weber has an advantage most coaches do not. He's five minutes from the airport and three or four hours from any recruit in America. No driving, no staying in hotel if he doesn't want. If he chooses to watch a game on the visit, he catches the first flight back in the morning and is back in his office by noon and getting ready for practice. Bruce Weber has the opportunity to visit more recruits, more often and in less time than pretty much anyone else in the Big 12.
That brings us to freshmen Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu, Nigel Johnson and Jevon Thomas. Foster is the best player on the team and popped for 20 in his first home game against the Jayhawks. He scored 34 over Texas on Saturday. It's pretty inconceivable that this is Foster's best week ever at K-State, something tells me he's got a lot more big wins and big moments in his time at KSU. Iwundu is relied on to be a defensive stopper. Johnson was asked to handle the ball in the biggest game of his 18-year-old life and Thomas has been out the past two games after showing some really flashes as a speedy point guard. These are Weber's guys. All of them. And they just beat KU's freshmen. Apparantly recruiting is not going to be an issue and Weber has a pair of big men lined up for next year.
Weber has a shiny new practice facility at K-State that football money paid for and they proudly display a conference title banner in the place. He's also got the rowdiest student section in the Big 12 at his home games and maybe, just maybe, growing alumni support.
The pieces are in place for a nice run at K-State and Bruce Weber has now answered every possible question from media or his fans about what he can or cannot do at Kansas State. If he's shown enough love, K-State may be able to keep this coach for a long time even if other schools come calling. Weber wants to do things his way and that makes him a perfect fit for K-State. It's time for K-State fans to embrace it. What more could they possibly hope for?