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Jerome Tang is hitting the right notes at Kansas State where the first-year coach has been an instant hit

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Manhattan, Kang. – This is the job Jerome Tan wanted.last spring for a long time Baylor Your assistant set up Alexa to play “Wabash Cannonball.” Kansas The search committee went through the door.

Tan knew exactly what he was saying before the interview began. K state fight song It was the last sheet music to be rescued from an on-campus fire in the late 1960s, so it was burned into every Wildcat fiber.

The 56-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago wanted to be part of that fabric.

“We were supposed to do a two-hour interview,” K state athletic director Gene Taylor recalled. “An hour into the game, he did most of the talking. He walked me through offense, defense. He said, ‘I need to go to the bathroom.'” I said, ‘Ferraz, I It’s over. What are we doing? Let’s make an offer.”

That’s why Kansas State is fifth in the AP Top 25, its best ranking since reaching third in 2010-11 and leading the Big 12 nearing the halfway point of the conference season. Short version. After the dismissal of Bruce Webber, Tan took over a team of two scholarship players, added 13 new players, and is currently the best start in the country by a Division I first-year head coach (17-2). cut the The Cats have won three more games than he did last season.

A long story has as many layers as the coach himself. You just need to be patient enough to peel them off. K-State had to watch all the way through the post-match celebration after he won 68-58 texas techTan rushed into the student section and joined the students in dancing to that beloved battle song.

It was the same game.”sandstorm“–an electro synth song from 1999 that evolved into Wildcats hype music–was played at the Bramlage Coliseum this season, as students traditionally chanted “F— KU” to the beat. , was silent. Instead, they rhythmically chanted “KSU.”

And they were proud to have taken Tang’s message to heart. Think Kansas more than your enemies and get rid of the blasphemy.

“We couldn’t play it,” said a giddy Taylor. “I tried it before he got here. They started chanting it.” , and I stopped. [to them]only he got it [done].

“This is the first time I’ve played Sandstorm without F-KU.”

This is the 2020 SEC Preseason Player of the Year (florida Keyonte Johnson) and is one of the smallest players in Division I. Brave guard Markkiss Nowell states that he is listed as 5ft 9in, but “justifiably he is 5-7in”.

The fifth-year senior point guard is also the second-leading scorer in a Big 12 game.

“Nothing scares me,” said Nowell, one of four New Yorkers on the roster. “I’m going all out for this game. An old head back in New York told me that if I could survive in New York, I could survive anywhere. I’m pretty good at surviving in New York.” I did my job.”

In other words, the Big 12 has arguably less contact than the legendary Rucker Park on 155th Street, where Nowell refined his game.

Wildcat fan enthusiastic about Tang

Tan was Scott Drew’s loyal right-hand man, Ace recruiter, and one of the nation’s most respected assistants for 19 years.But who knew he suddenly had a National Coach of the Year nominee this Some sort of instant turnaround ability and… swag?

students participated in tongs A chugging contest during timeout.Fans lined up courtside for the crowd after Coach’s appearance on Wildcat’s radio network Saturday in her T-her shirt from “Tang You Very Much.”

“They are selling like crazy,” one fan told Tang.

That’s not ignoring “Hangin’ With Tang.” This series of chats with coaches dragged couches into student council and thought of rapping with the public.

Tan was dancing alone on the court after the victory, but decided to join the students on Saturday spontaneously. I think

Who knew Tang could have such charisma and influence? 2 KansasTan grabbed the mic, jumped onto the scorer’s table and issued what could be his Sportsmanship and a wildcat manifesto kicking the rival’s ass.

“I said I would do one court storm,” he concluded. “From here on, expect to win.”

The 34-year-old Bramlage Coliseum may have been louder than ever.

“All of America is listening,” Tan told CBS Sports in a private moment following Saturday’s win. , do you want to hear “KU” even if you can’t hear “F”, or do you want people to hear “KSU”?

The country has an answer, at least for now. In the Big 12 preseason he was the last of the 10 teams selected and is currently ranked in the top 10 in the country. These Wildcats fit right into the cuddly underdog role that football Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder has cultivated over the years. Five stars don’t usually come to Manhattan. Kansas is both a major revenue sports development program.

But there’s rarely a better time to be a wildcat. With a backup quarterback (Will Howard), a 5-6 tailback (Deuce Vaughn), and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (Edge Felix Anudike-Uzoma), K-State earned the Big 12 in football. – Star outlook.

Tang’s best player arrived with promise, fanfare, and some history. Johnson hasn’t played since collapsing on a Florida court in December 2020. The exact nature of the heart disease, which caused nine days of hospitalization and included a medically induced coma, has not been clarified.

After collapsing on the court while playing in Florida, Keyontae Johnson flourished with the Wildcats.

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Florida State paid a premium for a $5 million insurance policy that guaranteed funding should Johnson’s professional career be affected. However, the school did not clear him medically. Johnson entered the transfer portal last May. Johnson told CBS Sports in October that he didn’t start working out until two months ago “when Kansas let me.”

“Some schools were clearly afraid to take risks with me,” Johnson said before the season.

But Kansas State wasn’t the only university that thought Mr. Johnson was worth trying.Johnson said he was also tracked west kentucky, USC When memphis.

“I call it a replay, a second chance,” Johnson said.[God] gave me another chance. I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to wake up every morning. “

K State also had to scrutinize sexual assault allegations against Johnson last year. said no progress had been made. Johnson claimed in a statement At the time, he had done nothing wrong.

“Jerome got a lot of stories and police reports,” Taylor said. “I asked him to dig deeper and he did. We felt pretty good. There was no sin.”

In the middle of what will be his final season before a shot in the NBA, the burly 6-6 Johnson is leading the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding (3rd and 3rd in the Big 12 in those categories). 2nd place).

With 10 minutes left in the game on Saturday, Johnson hadn’t scored a field goal. He finished with his third double-double of the season (15 points, 11 rebounds).

Earlier this season, Nowell won 36 games. texas With 32 against Baylor in consecutive games, according to Sports Illustrated, he is the third Division I player to combine at least 65 points and 20 assists in consecutive games in the last 10 years. The other two are Trae Young and Ja Morant.

How Tang rebuilt K-State’s roster

College football whining about transfer portals should take its cues from college basketball. The sport has dealt with massive roster turnover over the years. The Tang refined the art. Nowell and Ish Massoud were the only scholars left. His muscular 6-9 backup forward Massoud has been very effective in his play in the conference (his 52% from the arc). His nickname became “The Big 12”.

Seven wildcats entered the season and qualified for the remaining year or two.

“It really reminds me of last year,” said Texas Tech coach Mark Adams.

In Adams’ first season, the Red Raiders won 27 and were promoted to Suite 16 after losing eight players to graduation or transfers.

“We were able to bring in some of the older quality transfers,” Adams added. They want to be coached and they want this year to be a special final year.”

Roster management is never an issue at K-State.Tang, along with Drew, almost put together a walk-on roster after being crippled NCAA sanctions Followed by Dave Bliss scandal 2003.

It was that death penalty that was the reason Drew was hired and eventually got Baylor into the national program with Tan’s help.

“There was this summer, back in July, when Jerome was still looking for a man,” Taylor said. ?” He said, “Oh no, Jean.”he might have been [OK] But he was showing his good side. “

Don’t panic. Tan persuaded Johnson and his parents by reminding him of coaching two of his Baylor players, Jared Butler and King McClure, who had heart problems. Both continued to play after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Butler played in the NBA.

“I know how to help them get back on track,” Tang said. “I’ve done it before.”

But why in Kansas and why now? did not match. Tang and his wife Careylyen were empty nesters for the first time. Two children (Seven and Aylyn) are in college.The question became: why No State K?

Yes, it lives in the long, long shadow cast from Lawrence’s path. But it’s still a high major with a lot of tradition: Recently, K-State has won his share of the title in the Big 12 regular season twice since 2013. Weber’s 2018 group went to the Elite Eight.

“My coach, Drew, said to me, ‘Get it, figure it out if you want it.’ Own. So I just assumed this was the only job I wanted to do in America.”

Tan doesn’t just answer questions. He considers them, rolls them in his pretty basketball mind, and reveals himself—yes, layer by layer. But they wanted to stay.

they just needed a reason.

Nowell figured it out when he texted Taylor urging him to hire Tang. Guards had received reconnaissance reports from his 28-year-old brother Marcus, who conducted the investigation.

“For 19 years he’s seen victory,” Nowell said. “He told me that Tan was someone K State really needed to hire. He was the person God sent me at Kansas State University.”

They wanted structure.

Tan canceled practice and sent his players home last week after feeling a Kansas hangover. The Wildcats trail him by eight to a team that hasn’t won since December.

Tang called timeout. Something was said in the huddle and the Wildcats departed.

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