K-State could surprise in 2012-13

The Wildcats have Sweet 16 potential in Bruce Weber's first season

Updated: May 15, 2012, 1:24 PM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider
Bruce WeberBo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty ImagesBruce Weber landed in a plum position at Kansas State with a team made for March.

When Frank Martin announced on March 27 that he was leaving Kansas State to take the job at South Carolina, one thing was immediately apparent: Some lucky coach would be handed a very good situation in Manhattan, Kan. After all, Martin was leaving behind a veteran roster, one that reached the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament before bowing out to top seed Syracuse.

It turns out the lucky coach is none other than Bruce Weber. After nine seasons at Illinois, Weber was fired because his program's on-the-court performance had registered a long, slow decline since the Illini made an appearance in the 2005 national championship game.

Major-conference head coaches who are fired don't usually turn around and land another major-conference gig with a team that's a perennial NCAA tournament participant. But Weber has a sterling reputation in the profession as not only a good X's and O's coach but also as a rock-solid citizen and straight shooter. In all of those qualities, he figures to be a good "fit" in Manhattan. If any coach deserves a golden opportunity like this after a 6-12 season in-conference, it could be Weber. And the fact that no K-State players have (as of yet) elected to transfer can itself be seen as a vote of confidence in the new coach.

So put me down as agreeing wholeheartedly with my colleague Jason King: "Weber couldn't have walked into a better situation." In fact, there's good reason to believe that this season's Wildcats squad could be better than the 2011-12 edition -- and possibly develop into a Sweet 16-caliber team.


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