Makol Mawien experiences the struggles of senior pressure

Makol Mawien runs down the court during the men's basketball game against Florida A&M in Bramlage Coliseum on Dec. 2, 2019. The Wildcats won 76-58. (Emily Lenk | Collegian Media Group)

Two prominent seniors serve as leaders on this year’s young Kansas State men’s basketball team: forwards Xavier Sneed and Makol Mawien.

Mawien entered the season looking to build on the progress he began as a sophomore and continued as a junior, when he earned three awards: 2018 Philips 66 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team, 2018 Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year and 2019 Ed Nealy Most Improved Player.

Mawien has made some impact on the court this year but has also struggled with varied performances.

“He has been inconsistent this year,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “The stress and pressure on a senior to do well is a lot, and some guys can deal with that. I just keep telling him to relax and control what happens each day. That is all you can worry about.”

After the Wildcats’ 76-58 victory over Florida A&M Monday night, Weber said he was practicing his shooting at 10:30 a.m. in the practice facility.

“It means a lot to him,” Weber said. “We need him to be better.”

The season so far

In the season opener against North Dakota State, Mawien scored 15 points in 28 minutes with 10 rebounds. He followed that up with just two points on three scoring attempts and three rebounds in 22 minutes of action.

One of his best performances of the year came against Pittsburgh. Weber said he performed well for the 11 minutes he played. He scored four points and one defensive rebound, but that was cut short due to fouls.

The West Valley City, Utah, native scored double-digits in three of seven games, with 15 points as his season-high against North Dakota State. He also tallied 11 points against Monmouth and 10 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

In five of the first seven games, he played at least 20 minutes; with 28 minutes as the season-high against North Dakota State.

The 6-foot-9 forward has made his presence down low for the Wildcats on the glass as he has 36 total rebounds (25 of them defensive), averaging 5.1 per game.

He has averaged 21 minutes and 8.4 points per game this season. On the defensive end, he averages six blocks and five steals per game.