Immaturity is Wildcats' weakness
The Kansas State basketball team proved it could win a prime time game against a top-tier team when it beat Kansas, 84-75, on Jan. 30.The Wildcats looked like the best team in the Big 12 Conference that night while the Jayhawks looked underprepared and unmotivated.Since then, we've seen that same K-State team show exactly why it won't make much noise upon arrival in the NCAA Tournament.The Wildcats are too immature.We saw that first-hand on Wednesday night when they began their second stint atop the Big 12 Conference standings by barely getting off the team bus in an 84-75 loss at Texas Tech.Tech was obviously motivated to get head coach Pat Knight his first victory, but K-State looked sloppy and lazy for almost the entire game.Adding to the Wildcats' embarrassment were two technical fouls - one on superstar Michael Beasley for running over a Tech player after the whistle (depending on your perspective, it could be called an accident), and the other on senior starter Blake Young after he and a Tech player got tangled up on a screen. A frustrated Young faked throwing a punch in retaliation. There's senior leadership.K-State also tumbled when it tried to defend its first Big 12 lead. Fresh off of beating Kansas, the Wildcats went to Columbia and blew a double-digit lead to a shorthanded Missouri squad before ultimately losing, 77-74.The Wildcats are too immature to handle success, and they don't have anybody with experience to lead them.Experience and leadership wouldn't be such a problem if senior David Hoskins hadn't missed the season with an injury. He was the only Wildcat to start all 35 games last season, and he earned third-team All-Big 12 honors. He was strong and aggressive, and his presence helped Bob Huggins' squad go 23-12. The two-year starter could've had a major on-the-court influence with this year's youth-laden squad.With Hoskins out, the upper-classman options are Clent Stewart and Young. Neither are go-to guys or particularly good shooters. Beasley has accepted the primary leadership role, and he has handled it impressively for a freshman - but he's still just a freshman.In a lot of ways, the K-State team compares to the KU squad of 2005-2006 that lost to Bradley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With walk-on upperclassmen and a sophomore class that barely played the year before, the freshman- and sophomore-dominated Jayhawks lacked the veteran leadership necessary to win on the big stage. Beasley is obviously a more talented freshman than any of Kansas' freshmen were at that time, but he too lacks the upperclassman support to make a serious run in the NCAA's.Even Carmelo Anthony had a supporting cast.Fellow freshmen Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin, sophomores Hakim Warrick and Craig Forth and senior Kueth Duany all were steady contributors to the 2003 championship team.Beasley only can do so much.K-State will earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and might even nab a share of a Big 12 championship, but come tournament time, inexperience and immaturity will be the Wildcats' crutches. Meanwhile, the league's traditional powers - Kansas and Texas - will be the teams that shine.