Kansas State Wildcats

Can Jerome Tang Turn Things Around and Save K-State’s 2024 Season?

Iowa State Cyclones men's basketball head coach T. J. Otzelberger greets Kansas State men's basketball head coach Jerome Tang (right) before the game in the Big-12 conference showdown of an NCAA college basketball at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Ames, Iowa.

It has been an awful week for Jerome Tang and K-State basketball, with three bad double-digit losses in a row, each giving K-State a poor look for different reasons. Last Wednesday, Jerome Tang and Iowa State head coach TJ Otzelberger got into what looked like a heated exchange after Iowa State’s 11-point win when Tang accused Iowa State fans of recording their huddles and sending the information to the Iowa State coaches.

Otzelberger later called the claim “ludicrous,” and said he was “angry” that anyone would make that suggestion. He also mentioned that a K-State staffer “cursed out” an Iowa State student manager who was mopping the floor during the game. My take? Based on what I know, I take Otzelberger’s side in this. It is extremely unlikely that Iowa State would plant people behind K-State’s bench to record their huddle. K-State’s coaches likely misconstrued what was happening. Were some fans in the stands recording them with their phones? Perhaps. Were they then going to send the video(s) to the Iowa State coaches? Unlikely.

 

It did not get better for K-State on Saturday when they traveled to Houston and ran into a buzzsaw, losing by 22 points. The Cougars jumped to an 11-0 lead and never looked back. K-State was never in the game. The result was not the big news after this game, either. In the post-game press conference, Jerome Tang was critical of referee Gary Maxwell. Here is how Tang described the situation:

“I got a tech for telling Gary (Maxwell) that he was the adult and he needed to act like it. Because he was chirping with one of my players, and I’m always going to defend my guys… [If] my guys are wrong – I’m going to correct them… What Gary Maxwell did and said to my player was not warranted, and all I told him was he’s better than that as a person, and he’s the adult, and I got a tech for that. I don’t get it. He (Maxwell) told Cam Carter that if he wasn’t quiet, he would get him out of the game, and then proceeded to call two tic-tac fouls on him. You’re the adult here, right? We can tuck our egos away and say let the kids play the game.”

Was Tang justified in his criticism, or was this just a case of more sour grapes after a bad loss? I am not sure, but the entire situation may have negatively affected Cam Carter. He has been playing well of late, with 16 points against Houston and 12 against Iowa State, but he had one of his worst games of the season against Oklahoma on Tuesday night, scoring five points on two of 12 shooting from the field, and zero of five from three-point range. Carter has scored in double figures in all but three games this season, and the five points match his season low. But Cam Carter is not to blame.

 

The entire Wildcat team no-showed against Oklahoma. K-State was shut out in the game until there was 11:58 to go in the first half. That is a little over eight minutes without a point, which brought back flashbacks of some of Bruce Weber’s most inept teams. At one point late in the first half, K-State was on pace to score 25 points for the entire game. K-State made a run in the second half to cut the lead to seven but ran out of gas and lost by 20.

At least Tang didn’t blame the opposing coaching staff or the referees after the Oklahoma loss. He took all of the blame:

“I apologize that I didn’t have our guys ready to play. This is not on them, this is on me. And we will do a better job.”

Will he do it? Can he do it? I have my doubts. Tang is growing on the job. While it was a downer of a week, recognizing that it all starts with him is a good first step to moving forward. The Wildcats have a tough road ahead and need to get this ship turned around in the right direction soon, or this basketball team and the season could quickly spiral out of control.

To Top