OSR's Top Teams of the Decade Part I
OSR's Top Teams of the Decade Part I
By Mark Janssen
Official Sports Report
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The first decade of the 2000s offered plenty of cheers for the Wildcat Nation.
The football team averaged over seven wins per year, which included three seasons of at least 11 victories; the women's basketball team could make a case of being the Team of the Decade in the Big 12 with an average of 23 wins from 1999-2000 through 2008-09; volleyball made eight NCAA appearances; the baseball team advanced to its first NCAA Regional; the track and field program produced four Olympians and six national champions, and the men's basketball program is back where it belongs among the elite programs in America.
But out of all of these Wildcat programs, what were the "best of the best" teams of the last 10 years?
Official Sports Report went digging through the record books and came up with our Top 10 Teams. We based our listing on a collection of criteria including not only wins and losses, but also postseason success and general story lines and impact on the Wildcat Nation.
Drum roll please ... here are OSR's Top 10 Wildcat Teams of the Decade (1999-2000 through 2008-2009) starting today with Nos. 10 through No. 6:
10th - 2000 WILDCAT VOLLEYBALL - Powered by Kelle Branting and Liz Wegner as first-team all-Big 12 selections, K-State not only won 22 matches, but placed second in the league, which was the highest Wildcat finish in Big 8/12 history. Not only that, but Jim McLaughlin's club also defeated Loyola-Chicago and No. 15 Pepperdine, before losing out to No. 4 Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. It marked the highest NCAA finish in the history of the program, and the highest ever year-end ranking at No. 16.
9TH - 2006-2007 MEN'S BASKETBALL - The arrival of Bob Huggins sent the Wildcat Nation into a frenzy as fans filled Bramlage Coliseum simply because of his name - not to mention the top-ranked recruiting class that he signed for the following season. But "Hugs" wasn't going to wait. Inheriting players who had won just 15 games the year before, K-State won 23 games, and was a player in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark, which was good for fourth place. K-State had not won as many games in a season since 1988 and had not placed as high in the Big 12 since 1996. In postseason play for the first time since 1999, the Wildcats went 1-1 in the NIT.
8th - 2007-2008 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL - Just the season before, K-State had gone a miserable 4-12 in Big 12 play to finish last in the conference. But that was in 2006-07. After opening the year with a 5-5 mark, K-State had an undefeated month of January that propelled it to a worst-to-first Big 12 finish. It marked the first ever outright Big 12 championship with a 13-3 record. Deb Patterson was the league's Coach of the Year, while Shalee Lehning and Kimberly Dietz were first-team all-Big 12 selections. After being stunned in an overtime loss to Iowa State in the first-round of the league tournament, K-State went 1-1 in NCAA Tournament play.
7th - 2000 FOOTBALL - Jonathan Beasley quarterbacked K-State into the Big 12 Championship game where the 'Cats lost to No. 1 Oklahoma, 27-24. Opening the year with six straight wins, K-State reached No. 2 in the national polls. The 'Cats would finish the year as co-champs in the North and ended the year 11-3 with a victory over Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl to finish No. 9 in the country. Mario Fatafehi, Quincy Morgan and Jamie Rheem all earned first-team all-America honors, while Aaron Lockett was a second-teamer. Highlighting the season were wins over Kansas (52-13) and No. 4 Nebraska (29-28).
6th - 2007-2008 MEN'S BASKETBALL - As good as advertised! That's what Michael Beasley demonstrated in becoming the National Freshman of the Year, and runner-up in the voting for National Player of the Year. Mr. Beasley averaged 26 points and an NCAA-high of 14 rebounds per game, while his freshman buddy Bill Walker added 16 points per contest. Oh yes, a third true-freshman starter on that team was Jacob Pullen. Oh yes, the team was led by rookie coach Frank Martin, who guided the Wildcats to a 21-12 record, which included a third-place 10-6 mark in the Big 12. It was the first NCAA appearance for K-State since the 1995-96 season. The Wildcats knocked off USC in the first round, which was the school's first NCAA tournament victory since the days of Mitch Richmond in 1988. As one-and-done players, Beasley was the second player selected in the NBA Draft by Miami, while Walker went in the second round to the Boston Celtics.
Tomorrow, the top five teams will be recognized.