Expectations in sports are nothing new. They are placed on all teams each year in every sport. Some teams have high expectations, while other teams have very low ones.
Then there are those teams that struggle to live up to the expectations that are placed upon them. The K-State men’s basketball team falls into this category.
At the start of the season, the Wildcats were touted as a team that could compete for the conference championship, and certainly were a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
None of that came to fruition. With Wednesday’s loss to TCU in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, K-State finished the 2014-15 season with a sub-.500 record and far from any postseason contention.
“We definitely had high expectations (to begin the season),” sophomore forward Wesley Iwundu said following the game. “Everybody saw us as being one of the top teams in the country, and we definitely didn’t meet those expectations.
One of the biggest frustrations for K-State this season was that some players didn’t buy in.
“People not buying in was hard, that’s why this season was so hard,” senior forward Thomas Gipson said. “That’s why we lost 17 games, because people didn’t buy in.”
According to senior forward Nino Williams, some of that was an on-court issue. However, he also believes that part of it had to do with the team’s mentality off the court.
“I think immaturity was the biggest (problem),” Williams said. “It was just individuals trying to play for themselves and not the team and not for K-State, and not understanding the reasons why they got recruited and understanding the reasons why they’re here.”
The seniors offered a message to their teammates following the disappointing loss to end a disappointing season.
“I hope the younger guys learn from this and see that being an individual and trying to be cool and ‘down’ is not the way to go,” Williams said. “It doesn’t win games in college. Hopefully they learn more about life than basketball, because it’s basketball and life, not just basketball.”
For the three seniors on the team — Gipson, Williams and senior guard Shawn Meyer — they are closing the chapter on a major part of their lives. A big part of their love for K-State is attributed to the atmosphere they’ve grown accustomed to in Manhattan.
“I’ve learned that Manhattan is a family, and that’s one thing that I will miss, because the fan base is wonderful and I feel like it is the best in the nation,” Gipson said. “I feel like I’m going to miss Bramlage Coliseum and Manhattan. I’m just going to miss Kansas period.”
When Gipson walked off of the court for the final time in a K-State uniform, he uttered one simple phrase to himself:
“Damn, it’s over.”