TIPOFF: Foster’s resurgence returns to where it all began against Oklahoma State

Sophomore guard Marcus Foster tries to grab a rebound from Texas Tech forward/center Norense Odiase in the first half of the Wildcats' 58-51 win over the Red Raiders on January 14, 2015, in Bramlage Coliseum. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

K-State sophomore guard Marcus Foster thought he was at the podium to talk about his latest double-digit scoring performance. His 23 points led K-State in a gritty win over TCU at home, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Instead, Foster was asked about Oklahoma State, specifically a run-in with head coach Bruce Weber that was caught on national television. Only a small number of writers were present to hear Foster speak, but thousands more were listening at home, hanging onto each and every word.

“It was just me not being me, really, honestly,” Foster said. “I had bad body language, a bad attitude toward Coach. You know, that’s something I’ve never done. And that’s never going to happen again.”

Foster, who started the game on the bench, played just 14 minutes against Oklahoma State. He finished with 0 points, his team a 61-47 loss. Worse, though, was the knock to Foster’s confidence.

“I lost a little confidence in myself after Stillwater,” he said. “Coming home on that bus, I didn’t know what to think was going to happen. It could’ve gone either way. I just wanted to prove to myself that I’m still a good player — don’t get down on yourself, it happens to every basketball player.”

Some players would crumble in that situation, and few would be as open and direct as Foster was. In the end, though, it benefitted him.

“I’m just at the point where I’m going to do what ever it takes for my team. Right now, I don’t care if I score or not; whether I’m scoring 30 points or none. I just want to win at this point now.” – Marcus Foster

Foster’s 23 points against the Horned Frogs was just the start. He then hit two shots — one to go into overtime, and the other to win the game — as K-State knocked off No. 16 Oklahoma on the road. He followed that performance up with 14 points in a win against Texas Tech and a combined 27 points in the two games after that.

If you do the math, that’s 15.6 points per game for Foster in K-State’s last five games. His performance — and he himself — is a far cry from what everyone saw in Stillwater three weeks ago.

“I’m just at the point where I’m going to do what ever it takes for my team,” Foster said. “Right now, I don’t care if I score or not; whether I’m scoring 30 points or none. I just want to win at this point now.”

Since Oklahoma State, Foster has practiced better. His mentality has improved as well. Now, when he checks out, Foster high-fives every player on the bench before sitting down and animately cheering on his teammates.

Though winning comes first to Foster, earning back respect and proving claims of a “sophomore slump” wrong may be a close second.

“People thought, ‘You know, he made his little run from last season to this season and he was playing so well. Now he’s going to fall back and not be as good as he was,'” Foster said. “But I’ve had to regain a lot of respect from players, coaches and fans everywhere so that’s just something that I have to do.”

Saturday, Foster faces Oklahoma State again, three weeks removed from arguably the lowest point in his K-State career. In front of him stands an opportunity for redemption. There’s also an opportunity to lead K-State to a fifth conference win.

Both Foster and Weber are going “all in” on the latter.

“I hope he keeps doing more things like five rebounds against Iowa State,” Weber said. “Five defense rebounds is a positive step forward. I still want him to get to the free-throw line and get to the hoop. Early in the season he was allergic to the paint. You have to get in there. You saw that against TCU, which I thought was his best game, he had 10 or 12 free throws. That’s all I was harping on. Don’t settle for threes.”

K-State fans can only hope that this time, on Saturday, Foster will take the podium after the game to questions about a win and a confident performance. The type of performance everyone around the country has come to expect from Foster.