The current Kansas State men’s basketball season has been rocky at times, but one constant is the fact that Dean Wade and Barry Brown have owned the reigns of their team.
The junior duo has jockeyed to be the team’s leading scorer all season song. Wade currently averages 16.7 points per game, while Brown averages 16.6 points per game.
Of K-State’s 31 regular season games, Wade has score in single-digits just four times. For Brown, that number is seven.
Their impact could go without saying, but it needs to be spoken for.
Saturday afternoon, when K-State defeated Baylor 77-67, the two stole the show again.
Wade led the Wildcats in scoring with 25 points while shooting a crisp 64 percent. He flirted with his fifth double-double of the season with his seven rebounds of the night.
Brown dropped 18 points and shot efficiently, 67 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range.
Brown also narrowly missed a double-double as he finished with nine assists.
When the Wildcats and Bears first met, the Wildcats won 90-83.
Wade and Brown controlled that game as well. Brown led with 34 points and Wade followed with 24.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew was more than aware of this.
In his opening statement, Drew said, “For the record, it was senior night, and I am personally hoping this is Dean Wade and Barry Brown’s last game at Kansas State. Both of them are pros. I have nothing but respect for them. I think they are great players, and we struggled guarding them.”
This high praise from an opposing coach proves the effectiveness of the two.
Wade has clearly exhibited a confidence boost from his sophomore season and even since the first half of this season. Since Big 12 play began, Wade has only attempted less than 10 shots in two games and is shooting 55 percent on the season.
Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber thought the boost in Wade’s confidence has come from experience over the past years of being on the team.
“Just experience and time and where he came from,” Weber said. “He is a very unassuming guy. He is not very confident, and he is extremely humble. We tell him there is nothing wrong with being a little cocky and confident on the court, and he has developed a little bit of that. His teammates tell him, ‘Nothing can stop you, Dean. Just let things come, and we will get it to you.’”
Since the Wildcats lost at Texas Tech on Jan. 6, they have gone 10-6. Wade scored 20 or more points in nine of those contests.
Brown registered 20-plus points six times in those sixteen games, including a career-high 38 against Oklahoma State on Jan. 10.
After that Texas Tech loss, Brown and Wade have stepped up as the leaders of team, especially Brown.
Wade has become a more vocal player on the floor recently, and Weber said it is also seen in practice.
Weber mentioned multiple times that Brown wanted to practice as soon as the team returned from Lubbock and gathered a players-only meeting.
Brown said that he and Wade knew they had to step up after that game, and they did not see themselves playing the type of Kansas State basketball that they knew they were capable of.
“We stepped up and just tried to take control of the team and take control of our destiny going forward in the Big 12,” Brown said. “I feel like we have done that. We have lost some games we should not have lost, but overall, I feel like this year is our best year in the Big 12 since we have been here. Hopefully it is only going to go up from here.”
Brown has not only contributed offensively but has been a defensive stalwart.
He averages 1.9 steals per game, good for second in the conference. Twice this season Brown has nabbed six steals in a game.
Weber mentioned that Brown’s defensive mentality has been there since he came to K-State, saying that from day one as a freshman, Brown spoke up and said he was going to be the team’s defensive stopper.
Saturday’s win over Baylor will do a huge service to the NCAA Tournament hopes of the Wildcats. Coach Weber, Wade and Brown seemed to express a feeling of relief after the game.
During the post-game press conference, Wade jokingly took the blame for Brown missing his double-double. Wade admitted that he missed a shot on the pass that would have given it to him. Brown responded saying, “Crazy. It was a great pass,” before the two shared a laugh.
Sophomore forward Makol Mawien is known to be a timid speaker in interviews, and his teammates seem to know that.
Brown and Wade again shared a laugh while Mawien answered questions. After he was finished, Wade gave him a fist-bump.
The interaction is just another aspect of K-State’s terrific tandem. Their friendship appears to be thriving with happy, joking moments like that.
With the regular season over, K-State prepares to travel to Kansas City, Missouri for the Big 12 Conference Tournament, and Wade and Brown could further establish their team’s position in the big dance with a win or two.
The NBA is likely in the future for both Wade and Brown. Although, unlike Baylor’s Drew, Wildcat fans are hoping that the duo will indeed return to Manhattan for their senior seasons.
Jarrett Whitson is a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.