It’s been a heck of a season for first-year head coach Jerome Tang, and it’s barely halfway through January.
Tang has orchestrated an amazing turnaround at Kansas State. Last year, the Wildcats were 14-17 in Bruce Weber’s final season.
K-State was 15-2 coming into Tuesday night’s game against Kansas - and now they’re 16-2, having taken down the Jayhawks in overtime.
The Big 12 has become a superb basketball conference but even so, it has been a KU playbox. To borrow from Prince Harry, allegedly anyway, what Kansas wants, Kansas gets.
But K-State is extremely impressive. This game went into overtime - get a OT, baby! - and Kansas did not buckle. K-State had to win it.
And they did, in dramatic fashion: remember Keyontae Johnson, the kid who Florida kept off the court after a serious health scare?
He’s at K-State now, and having quite a year. His last basket must have been incredibly sweet to him given all that he’s been through.
Tang has an interesting background, by the way. He’s from Trinidad and moved to Texas with his family when he was 10. His father is half-black and half-Chinese while his mother is Indian. Trinidad, if you didn’t know it, is as much a melting pot as the US and perhaps more so.
K-State now has a problem: they have a really nice basketball tradition, but they’re not on the level of Kansas, Baylor or Texas. Not really Oklahoma either, for that matter. You could compare them maybe to Clemson or Wake Forest in the ACC, a program that has some moments but not consistently.
After this season, a LOT of schools are going to inquire about Tang and if, say, Texas shows up with a Texas-size load of cash, Kansas State might have a hard time keeping him.
Or maybe he just wants to build his own thing. In which case: look out.