After earning his second NCAA Tournament win with the Kansas State Wildcats against one of the college basketball blueblood programs in Kentucky, Jerome Tang is trending for some viral post-game comments in which he said, “We had more dudes than they did today.”
In case you missed it, Kentucky fans were not happy on social media even going as far as to call the first-year head coach a “scumbag” and a “worthless piece of garbage” for his realistic comments.
While the news has been well-documented at this point, I wanted to give you my three thoughts about the situation through the eyes of a Big 12 fan, as well as a passionate college basketball fan as a whole.
In case you missed it, the video below shows Tang’s comments in full.
With the background info out of the way, here are my three thoughts.
IS THIS DISRESPECTFUL?
If I am being completely honest, this doesn’t really strike me as disrespectful.
The question pitched to Tang was intended to get him to gush about the esteemed history and tradition of the University of Kentucky and Tang elected to skip out on the coachspeak. In a world of over-glorifying players, programs, coaches, and other aspects of college basketball, Tang was honest in his thoughts following the game which led to Kansas State fans earning some much-deserved respect. Tang chose to highlight KSU’s history and tradition and while not known for winning national championships every other year, the Wildcats have one of the most passionate and die-hard fanbases in the country. If you don’t believe me, go check any social media platform leading up to gameday day, during gameday, and any amount of time following the conclusion of the game. I actually believe that Tang’s comments were not intended as a shot at Kentucky, but as a boost to K-State (much like what we saw in Tang’s post-game comments after beating the Kansas Jayhawks in Manhattan).
While I’m not normally one to throw myself in the middle of social media beef per se, the response to both sides is simply that it’s not that deep.
CALIPARI VS TANG
On the flip side of the situation, if fans want to break down coaching interactions with the media, look no further than Kentucky HC John Calipari who referred to Kansas State’s star point guard Markquis Nowell as “the little kid.”
In case you missed it, John Calipari is also going viral for some of his own post-game comments following Kentucky’s 75-69 loss at the hands of Markquis Nowell and company, here is what he had to say.
I’m not using this to say that fans should point fingers at Calipari for his comments about Nowell, I’m simply adding this to say that fans shouldn’t try to call out Jerome Tang for saying, “All those old dudes that played for Kentucky, (John Wall, Jamal Mashburn, and Anthony Davis to name a few) they ain’t coming back” when Calipari is doing at least the same thing, in theory. Once again, I’m not trying to add any extra flames to the fire but the argument to come for Tang makes virtually no sense to me.
IS HE WRONG?
Tradition can only do so much for a basketball team. It can help bring in big-name players like Oscar Tschiebwe, Jacob Toppin, and Cason Wallace in the recruiting cycle, but it can’t box out or rebound for you. It can’t throw up a floater in the paint for you, much less attempt to defend a star player.
At the end of the day, I see Tang’s comment as not only going to bat for the history of his program but also giving his current players the respect they deserve after advancing to the sweet 16. Dean Wade and Barry Brown aren’t going to come out of the locker room and try to run the offense for K-State much less Devin Booker and Karl Anthony-Towns for Kentucky. Both squads entered Sunday’s Round of 32 game with an opportunity to continue on, only one team could leave with that reality.
The Wildcats take on the Michigan State Spartans on Thursday, March, 23rd against another HOF coach Tom Izzo. The Wildcats will look to continue their run into the history books as they are the highest-remaining seed in the East region, as well as one of the last two teams from the Big 12 Conference still dancing.