The Kansas State men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end about two weeks ago in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Collegian’s sports editor Scott Popp, writers Brett Engle, Ryan Porter and Avery Osen share their thoughts on the Wildcats’ season.
How would you describe this season in one word?
Scott: Inconsistent. This team beat a top 10 Baylor team twice, played a top 10 Kansas team twice and beat a top 10 West Virginia team. That same team lost eight out of 10 down the stretch, including a 30-point blowout loss to last-place Oklahoma.
Give them credit. After that loss when many, including myself, thought the team would miss the tournament and give head coach Bruce Weber the axe, they turned it around. In the end, an NCAA Tournament appearance is a step in the right direction for the program, no matter how inconsistent they were.
Brett: One word to describe this season would be progress. Coming in to the season, I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect from this basketball team. I think if you told the fans that it’d make the tournament and win a game, a lot of them would’ve taken that in a heartbeat. It wasn’t as good as some hoped, it wasn’t as bad as some expected, but it was a step in the right direction.
Ryan: In one word it would be challenging. The Wildcats had moments where they showed such talent and discipline; however, they were outweighed by the moments of despair and lack of enthusiasm.
Avery: I think the one word I would use to describe this team is mediocre. I had some really big thoughts for the team this year. Did they underachieve? No. Did they overachieve? No. They were just “alright.”
Who was the team’s MVP?
Scott: I don’t know if there is one obvious player you could really single out on this Wildcat team that was very balanced throughout the season. But if I had to choose, senior forward Wesley Iwundu would be my choice. Iwundu did it all for this team on both ends of the floor.
Iwundu made a few costly mistakes late in a few games that were not characteristic of a senior, but down the stretch of the season, Iwundu was a big reason why the Cats made the tournament, and he willed the Wildcats to victory in their First Four matchup against Wake Forest.
Brett: Without a doubt, Iwundu is the team’s MVP. He had to step up and be a leader this year, and he didn’t disappoint. Night in and night out, he was always ready to play and contribute.
He showed flashes of taking over games, something I don’t think a K-State team has seen since Jacob Pullen left. It’s going to be hard to replace what he meant to this team next year.
Ryan: The team MVP for this season was senior forward D.J. Johnson. Whenever he was on the court, he gave it 100 percent, always hustled to get back on defense and to crash the boards. It was easy to tell when D.J. was on the bench because of the lack of size that K-State possessed underneath and lack of rebounding.
He is a versatile player as well, being able to score, rebound and block shots. Compared to the player that Johnson was at the beginning of his career, his hard work and dedication groomed him into the player he is today. He kept his composure as well, even when he was being picked on by the officials, which tells a lot about his leadership and character.
Avery: I think the MVP would have to be Iwundu. He led this team, which was really indicated in the opening round game against Wake Forest. He will be missed next year, but there are still key pieces coming back, so there is still hope in this program.