OSR's Top Teams of the Decade Part II
OSR's Top Teams of the Decade Part II
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) concluding today with Nos. 5 through No. 1: (Check out yesterday's OSR report if you missed Nos. 6 - 10.)
5th - 2009 BASEBALL - A.J. Morris was an automatic "W" when he took the mound as the right-hander led Kansas State to its first-ever NCAA Regional appearance. K-State scored a record 43 victories, with 14 of those belonging to Morris. Fourteen was also the number of Big 12 wins K-State scored, which was also a school record as the Wildcats placed fourth in the conference. Led by Big 12 Coach of the Year Brad Hill, K-State reached a national ranking of No. 10 during the later stages of the season.
And Morris? All he did was set K-State records with his 14 wins, 116 innings pitched and 100 strikeouts, which helped him earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and first-team all-America honors.
4th - 2003 VOLLEYBALL - Winning seemed automatic for the Wildcats, which had stretches of 16 and another of 12 consecutive match victories. Those strings helped K-State to a school record of 30-5 and first-ever Big 12 Championship with an 18-2 mark. That included a pair of match wins over No. 10 Nebraska. Suzie Fritz was the Big 12's Coach of the Year, while Lauren Goehring became the school's first first-team all-American, not to mention Big 12 Player of the Year. Vali Hejjas was the conference's Newcomer of the Year, and, Gabby Guerre was yet another first-team selection. K-State would defeat Ohio and Arkansas, but then lost to Penn State in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats finished with an all-time high ranking of No. 11 in the national polls.
3rd - 2003-2004 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL - Sunflower State pride was in full bloom during the winter of 2004 as Kansas State's women's basketball team stormed its way to a 25-6 record and co-championship in the Big 12 Conference. And coach Deb Patterson's team made its run with a host of home grown products in Kendra Wecker (Marysville), Nicole Ohlde (Clay Center) and Laurie Koehn (Moundridge). Today, those three players rank 1-2-3 in all-time scoring in K-State history. Ohlde was the Big 12's Player of the Year and a consensus all-American as she ended her career as K-State's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Wecker and Ohlde were first-team all-Big 12 selections, while Koehn landed on the third team and Megan Mahoney garnered honorable mention. The Wildcats would go 1-1 in NCAA Tournament play.
2nd - 2002 FOOTBALL - Darren Sproles and Ell Roberson put up record-setting numbers on offense, while Terence Newman was having a first-team all-American year on defense as K-State blazed its way to its fifth 11-victory season in the last six years. K-State's offense roared through defenses scoring at least 31 points in seven of the eight Big 12 games, while the defense allowed more than one touchdown in only three regular season games. K-State would cap the year with a victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl to finish No. 7 in the national polls, second highest in school history. Sproles, a sophomore, rushed for a school-record 1,465 yards, while Roberson added another 1,032 yards, an all-time high for a Wildcat quarterback. Included among the wins were a 64-zip pasting of Kansas, and a 49-13 handling of Nebraska. K-State won its last five regular season games over Baylor, KU, ISU, NU and MU by a combined score of 253-30.
1st - 2003 FOOTBALL - Argue with the first nine, if you like, but there is no argument as to the top accomplishment by a Wildcat sports team in the decade. While perhaps not the best team - afterall, the 'Cats were just 4-3 and had lost to Marshall at mid-season - Kansas State finished regular-season play with seven straight wins, a Big 12 North title, and a 35-7 Big 12 Championship victory over a No. 1-ranked Oklahoma team that some were proclaiming to be the best of all-time. Sproles broke his own rushing record with a 1,986-yard rushing season, which included a school record 237-yard outing against Missouri. Roberson set the school record by passing for 23 touchdowns, and at the time, James Terry caught passes for 1,232 yards, which was also a school standard. All-American Josh Buhl was the defensive headliner. K-State finished only No. 14 in the national polls after losing to No. 7 Ohio State, 35-28, in the Fiesta Bowl.