The Parallels Between Kansas State and Golden State


Jerome Tang has led Kansas State to a remarkable 17-2 record. (Courtesy of Twitter)

William F. Grant, Contributing Writer

Since taking over as head coach of the Kansas State University Wildcats in late March 2022, Jerome Tang has led his group to a remarkable 17-2 record this season. They’ve encapsulated the hearts of casual college basketball fans after a stunning win over defending champion and previously #2 ranked University of Kansas last Tuesday. After suffering defeat in their last seven matchups against the blue blood powerhouse, Kansas State grew tired of the same old narrative of being the younger brother of Bill Self and the Jayhawks. Having not made the NCAA Tournament since 2019 makes this feat more impactful for Wildcat fans.

But beyond this, Kansas State has a few similarities with another basketball powerhouse: the Golden State Warriors.
In the 2014-15 NBA season, Steve Kerr was appointed as head coach of the Warriors and became one of only five coaches to win the championship in their inaugural season. The Dubs finished the season 67-15, becoming the 10th team to win 67 or more games in a season throughout the history of the association. A pivotal element of their success involved Steph Curry draining a league best 286 three-pointers while sidekick Klay Thompson finished second, making 239 of his own. Steve Kerr was quite the sharpshooter during his glory days as an NBA player, but no one could have predicted his coaching style would lead to the pair averaging nearly seven combined three-pointers a game. Before Kerr became coach of the Warriors, the average made three-pointers per game was set at just over seven. Now, that average is just below thirteen. Recognizing the talent around him has been pivotal to Kerr’s success in Golden State.

Tang, a former Baylor assistant coach, hit the ground running at Kansas State due to a similar recognition of the talent around him. In Tang’s case it was the utilization of the newly conceived transfer portal which allowed discouraged athletes to leave their respective programs in search for one that fit them more accordingly. The pandemic called for the NCAA to allow an extra year of eligibility for all Division I College Basketball players which resulted in one in every three of their athletes to transfer the following season.

Tang’s response was to utilize this drastic change. In his active lineup of eleven players, ten of them have belonged to fifteen programs other than Kansas State’s. As the coach of the fifth team in the nation as of this past Sunday according to the AP poll, Tang holds the highest win percentage among Kansas State Head Coaches since the 1958-59 season when Tex Winter led his Wildcats to a 25-2 record. Both Kerr and Tang saw their opportunity and grabbed it, revolutionizing the way the game is understood forever.