I’ll be honest, when the Kansas State Wildcats hired Bruce Weber just days after Frank Martin took the job at South Carolina, I wasn’t very happy. At the time I felt that Martin had been wronged in some way by the Athletic Department and I didn’t think that Bruce Weber was the man for the job.
Through two years, I have been proven wrong. On Wednesday, Weber was given a one year contract extension, the second such extension since taking over the job in Spring of 2012. His payment will increase $100,000 every year he stays in the job which potentially could net Weber a cool two and a quarter million dollars a year if he stays for the duration of his contract now, extended through 2019.
As I’ve said I have never been an ardent supporter of Bruce Weber, and even now I’m not sure that he can put Kansas State into the upper echelon of college basketball programs, but I am cautiously optimistic that he can continue to make Kansas State a Big 12 contender for the coming years for a few reasons.
The first of those reasons being the rise of Marcus Foster. The true freshman out of Wichita Falls, Texas led the team in seven categories including scoring and free throw percentage, was named to the Big 12 All Newcomer team. He also became the second ever freshman named to one of the three All Big 12 teams, the first of which being Michael Beasley.
Marcus Foster wasn’t supposed to be this big of a difference maker; Foster wasn’t even Kansas State’s best recruit according to ESPN, that title was reserved for Wesley Iwundu. Regardless of that fact Foster was far and away Kansas State’s best player this season and one of the main reasons Kansas State won 20 games for the eighth straight season.
Without Foster, I’m not sure the Wildcats make it to 15 wins. Foster still has, in theory, three more years on campus for the Wildcats (Although if he continues to play at such a high level the NBA will likely come calling). That’s assuming he can keep this level of play up, and hopefully improve upon it the Wildcats will have a say in the Big 12 championship in the years to come.
Another major reason I am slowly getting onto the Bruce Weber bandwagon has been his ability (so far) to recruit talented and influential basketball players. In Bruce Weber’s first year he was able to piece together the best recruiting class since Michael Beasley, Bill Walker and Jacob Pullen stepped onto campus in 2007.
Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu, Jevon Thomas and Nigel Johnson are true freshmen to each man, and each one played more than 12 minutes a game. Each one of those four players made an impact on the season and each one will look to continue to have an impact on the team in the next three years.
Weber was also able to bring in talented transfers Brandon Bolden and Justin Edwards who will bolster the team for next season. One of the main faults that people pointed towards when Bruce Weber was fired from Illinois was his inability to recruit top level, impact players and (so far) Bruce Weber has been able to do that.
Bruce Weber is comfortable in Manhattan. From the outset, Weber has talked highly of Kansas State and Manhattan specifically. He has always expressed his love for the town and the warm welcome that he received when he arrived on campus.
Part of this comfort ability may stem from the friendly atmosphere but I’d imagine most of it has to do with the drop off in what was expectations. When Weber arrived in Illinois he took over from Bill Self and inherited a group of highly talented players which he took to the final four in his first season.
That was always going to be a tough standard to live up to, taking over from one of the best college coaches in the nation is never an easy task especially for someone like Weber who likes a close knit atmosphere which Manhattan can provide.
Finally it’s hard to argue with results Bruce Weber has won more games in his first two seasons that any other coach in Kansas States history. Two twenty win seasons and two (albeit unsuccessful) trips to the NCAA tournament is a decent return for a head coach, who many picked to fall flat on his face in Manhattan.
Bruce Weber has Marcus Foster, is recruiting well and is comfortable in Manhattan, there is no reason why he cannot be successful at Kansas State for the years to come. Will K-State ever reach the pinnacle of college basketball success? Maybe not but as K-State fans we’ve seen worse.