Dead Week Sports Briefing

1 May

The week preceding finals week is known on many college campuses as “dead week.” I am at a loss to explain the term because I have three papers due in the next three days, plus a rather complicated public finance assignment, so my pre-finals week is very much alive. I know this is the case for most students, so you will understand if I keep this update brief. That said, I tend to ramble. Here goes nothing.

Building

The most recent news with long-term impact is easily the commencement of the West Stadium Center project, an expansive renovation of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The addition is estimated to cost $75 million and should be finished in time for the 2013 football season. It is entirely privately funded – no state dollars or tuition money used – and the school has already raised over $40 million. Kansas State broke ground on this monumental project on Saturday morning, before the annual spring football game. Looking at the bullet points of the project on kstatesports.com and subtracting the exciting adjectives, the addition is purported to include all the following:

  • 40 private Suites, 36 Loge boxes and 800 Club seats
  • A “Tailgate Terrace” for Ahearn Fund members
  • Student-athlete dining hall
  • Event space for game day entertainment and year-round meetings and events
  • A K-State Athletics “Hall of Honor”
  • Concession and restroom facilities
  • Ticket office and Cats Closet retail spaces
  • Potential office space for athletics and media relations staff
  • New press box
Truly, the project seems to be a whole new level of commitment to athletics on the part of the university. It is well known that fundraising has been at an all-time high under athletics director John Currie. In a speech before the groundbreaking, President Kirk Schulz tied the massive athletics-based undertaking to the academic mission of the university when he cited athletic success as a way to get the school exposure on a national level. He also promoted the West Stadium Center as a “visual rallying point” for the university, the first impression visitors will have of Kansas State University when they enter town from the northwest.

Basketball

Again, I have been largely distracted from sports by these pesky papers that are due in the next few days, but here is a quick recap of new head coach Bruce Weber’s hires to this point in time.

Assistant coach Alvin Brooks III – $150,000 for 2012-13

The 32-year-old is coming off a two-year stint as an assistant at Sam Houston State. Prior to that he served as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Bradley. He also coached at the junior college level. He has a total of eight years of college coaching experience, and his father has been coaching for almost as long as his son has been alive. Brooks graduated from Midland College with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in athletic administration.

Bruce Weber press release statement about Brooks: “I’m very excited to add Alvin to the staff. One of my top priorities was to get someone with strong ties to the state of Texas and Alvin gives us that. He has developed great relationships with the high school and AAU coaches in the state during his time recruiting the state the past eight years. He also has great bloodlines with his father (Alvin Brooks II) being a very well-known coach in Texas.”

Strength and Conditioning Coach Jimmy Price

A former U.S. Marine, Price ran the Illinois men’s and women’s basketball strength and conditioning program and the nutrition program for the past nine years under Weber (2003-2012). He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise sports science at Texas Tech in 2011 and worked under former head coach Bob Knight there from 2001 to 2003. The 34-year-old Texas native has accrued over a decade of experience as a strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist.

Assistant coach Chris Lowery – $210,000 for 2012-13

Lowery, who will turn 40 this July, has been coaching college basketball for 17 years. He spent the past eight seasons as the coach of the school from which he graduated, Southern Illinois University, and where he accrued a win-loss record of 145-116 (.556). Lowery worked with Weber at both SIU (2001-2003) and Illinois (2003-2004).

Bruce Weber press release statement about Lowery: “I’m really excited about Chris joining the coaching staff. He has been with me at both Southern Illinois and Illinois as an assistant coach and we have a great relationship, which is critical in building a staff. He is an outstanding recruiter with great ties to the Midwest and will be a huge asset in helping us to establish a great recruiting base. He also has the added experience of being a head coach for eight years at SIU, which is only going to help me on the bench. I look forward to K-State Nation getting to know Chris and his family.”

Football

The spring game proved about as scintillating as usual. When he approached the podium after the game, coach Bill Snyder cracked a smile and asked, “Has the paint dried yet?” Maybe the scrimmage is slightly more interesting than watching paint dry, but one would be remiss not to point out that it probably takes significantly longer, so that should be factored into the comparison. Anyway …

The first-team versus second-team format drives me batty because it is difficult to discern actual impressive performance of players when their competition is not what it will be in a real game situation. Understandingly, there are other non-competitive aspects to the spring game: many plays get whistled short of an actual tackle to limit the possibility of injury, some players are held out (Tyler Lockett) or played in a limited way (Tay Bender) just to make sure they do not aggravate a slight injury, and the offense is not allowed to check out of plays when the defense lines up correctly against it.

All that said, the final score was 77-7. As Snyder said, probably the biggest takeaway from this game is that depth of the team is not what it should be. However, he did say he felt the team has more leadership than it did last season, and he is proud of the leadership the team has chosen. The captains this year will be quarterback Collin Klein, center B.J. Finney, linebacker Arthur Brown and defensive back Ty Zimmerman.

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