Foster Adapting to Added Attention
Despite falling 81-75 to Iowa State Saturday afternoon, Foster's solid performance in which he hit three 3-pointers and shot 7-of-18 from the field for a game-high 20 points kept his team within reach of the Cyclones when things began to look grim.
While suffering back-to-back Big 12 road losses is never easy, if there is a bright spot as the team looks forward to the future, Foster is the highlight.
"I'm further ahead than I ever expected. I didn't think that I'd be coming in and making the impact that I am right now," Foster said one afternoon after practice.
Known on the court for his hard work ethic, it was no surprise the 6-foot-2 guard was still sweaty when media circled around him ready to ask him their many questions.
In a few short months Foster - a relatively quiet recruit for K-State - has become a local hero on the court and has received more attention than he could have imagined back when he first stepped foot on campus.
There's always media ready to chat with the high scorer, and when he slammed down a huge, momentum-changing dunk against Gonzaga on Dec. 21, the attention grew even greater - all the way to ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10.
"That (attention) is making it more fun. Seeing myself on SportsCenter was pretty cool," Foster laughed. "I've always watched it and being on there, it's a dream come true to me. But now that it's happened, I've just got to take that and use it as motivation to get better and to a higher level than I'm already at."
And it's not just the fans and the media putting added attention on Foster - opposing teams are watching him a little closer now, too.
"I've got a lot of attention coming. The teams are scouting me harder now, so I've just got to figure out how I can score on teams and get myself mentally ready for games," he explained. "I've been feeling pretty good though. I've just got to stay hungry and humble, that's my goal right now."
Foster especially felt the effects of being scouted when the team traveled to Lawrence, Kan., earlier this month.
"The game against Kansas was my first scouting defense where they knew everything I wanted to do and I pressed myself about it," explained Foster. "I was trying to press the issue and was trying to force the issue too much, but now I'm coming in a little more relaxed. You have to be relaxed in the games where people scout you so hard."
Foster has led the Wildcats in scoring in nine of the team's games this season and has scored points in the double-digits in 16 of K-State's 20 games. He's become the team's go-to guy and, despite preforming in a league littered with talented freshmen, has garnered both Big 12 Freshman of the Week and Tisdale National Freshman of the Week honors so far this season.
He is averaging a team-leading 14 points per game to go along with his 3.9 rebounds per game and season total of 39 assists and 14 steals.
With his three treys against Iowa State, Foster was able to set the school record for 3-point field goals by a freshman, which was held previously by Brian Henson (42) during the 1992-93 season. His 44 3-pointers are more than tallied by Michael Beasley (36), Jacob Pullen (40) and teammate Will Spradling (40).
"He is tough," head coach Bruce Weber said about Foster after the Wildcats' 72-66 win over Oklahoma. "He seems to get hurt every day in practice, and I think he is dying, then I turn my head and he is back in there. He is very determined and very mature. I have said this since the beginning, he is the most mature (freshman) I have been around. He really wants to do well and he has become pretty good defensively. Not only is he scoring, but he is playing well on both ends of the floor, and that says a lot for a freshman."
Humble, determined, mature and hungry for more, Foster is ready to continue to give it all for the game he loves.
"It means a lot to me. I really love this game," Foster said. "I get to go out and sacrifice for it. I'm sacrificing my body right now. I'm kind of banged up right now, but it's for the love of the game and I really love this game. I'd do anything for basketball."
K-State returns home tomorrow evening to face Texas Tech (10-10, 2-5 Big 12). The Red Raiders are coming off of a 74-65 home loss to Oklahoma and are led on the court by senior forward Jaye Crockett, who is averaging 14.3 points per game.
Tuesday evening's game will tip off in Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m., and will be televised on the Big 12 Network.
K-State's Shane Southwell and Marcus Foster celebrate after the game against Oklahoma at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on January 14, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)