Let’s talk basketball. Like the revitalized, revitalized, breezy, engaging, and record-breaking K State basketball team coached by Jerome Tan. The Wildcats are 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 for the 2022-23 season. Not only was it their second consecutive victory over a ranked opponent, they also set a school record for points a game, tying the Big 12 record for points a game set by Baylor in 2008. They shot 61% from the field, 3-pointers he shot 56.5% from range, and free throws he shot 93.9% from the line (also a school record).
Jerome Tang’s team has been fun to watch all season. They play a fast, high-handed offense, and they play a tough defense as well. Tang instills a family-like atmosphere within the program, hosting weekly, sometimes daily, team-his events at his home, including cooking and karaoke. It gives players and coaches the chance to bond with each other and it shows on the court.
I never expected K-State to rush into the basketball season this season, but it didn’t take me long to realize that this was an NCAA Tournament team. They won the Cayman Islands Classic Tournament early in the season by defeating Rhode Island, Nevada, and LSU. They followed up with a tournament championship with a loss at Butler, but have since gone on a seven-game win streak, and LSU’s win looks like a really good one as LSU are his 12-2. The only other loss is his 3-point margin in Kentucky. At the time, this year’s Wildcat team proved to be more talented, more athletic, and had more potential than any of his K state teams to date.
Forward Keyonte Johnson is showing a steal. He’s a top team All-Big 12 talent and plays as such, averaging 18.4 points per game and he’s 6.9 rebounds per game. He leads the team in both categories, ranking him third in scoring and sixth in rebounding in the Big 12. Heck, if he keeps this up, he could be a candidate for the league’s Player of the Year.
Marquis Nowell has been like the energizer bunny that keeps this team on pace every game. , they also lead the team in assists (8.5 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio. Surprise Human Highlight Reel Add in Nae’Qwan Tomlin’s 11.6 points per game (many on highlight reel dunks) and 5.6 rebounds per game, and K-State has a spectacular one, two, three punch. At least he’s Dean Wade, Barry Brown, and Kamauth Stokes in 2018-19. Desi Sills, David Nugessan, Cam Carter, Abayomi Iyora and Tikei Green have had some great moments so far in this young season.
Picked last by the media and coaches, can this team keep up this blistering pace and contend for the Big 12 title? Nothing. I’d be happy to finish high in the Big 12 and get a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament. At this point, some tournament wins become gravy. All I can say so far is that K State athletic director Gene Taylor hired Jerome Tan to hit a giant 500-foot home run.