The Final Tuesday in Vanier
While K-State is preparing for its last regular season game of 2014 this weekend, the Vanier Complex is preparing for a complete makeover.
With boxes scattered about and pictures taken off the walls, the building is in its first stage of moving, and on Friday, when K-State leaves for Waco, Texas, the complex's keys will be handed over to the Construction Management team of Mortenson & GE Johnson Construction, and the reconstruction of the brand-new, state-of-the-art complex will begin.
Though it is an exciting time for the entirety of K-State Athletics as the new building will benefit all 16 of its athletic teams, there was a nostalgic feeling in the air at yesterday afternoon's press conference.
"When Kansas State evolved into the Big Eight, that was an initiation of a major college program," explained head coach Bill Snyder on how the room got its name. "I always felt honored to be a part of it, and I wanted to always cast that recollection and that memory for everybody and anybody. There's so much that takes place in this room: it's a lounge area for our players, we have these media sessions in here, we have a lot of functions in here, it's housed virtually everybody and anybody that's been a part of our program at some point in time so it has substantial memories."
While many memories were made in the old Vanier Football Complex, the future has never been brighter as the Wildcats' new home is expected to be completed by August 2015.
"As you look about the college football landscape, K-State has won the most Big 12 football games of anybody since 2011, and we need to have facilities for our program that will reflect who we are," said K-State director of athletics John Currie. "This time last year, we really had just started fundraising for this particular project, and we went from zero money raised to about $48 million towards our $50-million dollar charitable gifts goal in just 12 months. That's pretty special. I think K-Staters nation-wide, worldwide, need to hold their heads up high. We're accomplishing great things here.
"I'm very grateful to our fans and the contributors who have made this happen, and I'm extremely grateful to Coach Snyder for the way he's led the program."
MCCRANE CONTINUES CONSISTENCY
Earlier this week, the conference announced K-State redshirt freshman kicker Matthew McCrane as the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week. The first player of the week honor of his career, McCrane couldn't help but smile when asked what the accolade meant to him.
"Personally, as a freshman, that's big for me," McCrane said about earning the nod. "I obviously would like to continue to do that in my career. I'm grateful to get on the field this young; I don't think many redshirt freshmen kickers get the chance to do that. So getting playing time and getting awards for it, that's really big for me."
Last Saturday, in K-State's 51-13 win over Kansas, McCrane converted both of his field-goal attempts from distances of 41 and 52 yards. His 52-yarder is tied for the 14th-longest field goal in school history, while he is the first K-State kicker to hit two 50-plus yarders in one season since Jeff Snodgrass in 2006.
"I have a lot of confidence in Matt," said K-State quarterback Jake Waters. "He's just been doing great lately and he's showed the type of leg he had in the game on Saturday. We're obviously frustrated when we can't get it in, but knowing he can come out there and kick it in and at least get some points on the board, we all have confidence in him."
While his impressive performance against Kansas earned him the league's player of the week honors, Snyder is most impressed by McCrane's resilience, which was displayed for the first time two weeks ago in K-State's 26-20 win at West Virginia.
"What impressed me the most was, during the West Virginia game, after having a kick blocked and missing a kick, he came back and made a very significant kick in the ballgame that was beneficial in winning," said Snyder. "Up until that time, he had hit all of his field goal attempts and extra point attempts, but to have that miss, for a lot of people that would have weighed heavily on their mind, but he did a nice job of extracting that from his thoughts and stepping up and hitting a valuable field goal for us. Then he got back on track this last week against Kansas."
During the West Virginia game, McCrane made two field goals from 19 and 32 yards, giving K-State a two-possession lead in the game's final minutes.
After last weekend's game, McCrane moved into the single-season top-10 list at K-State with 14 field goals and extended his school record for points by a freshman to 77. The freshman is currently the Big 12 leader and ranks second nationally in field goal percentage at 93.3 percent (14-of-15), including a 9-of-9 mark from distances of 30 yards or greater.
"It's all pretty crazy," concluded McCrane. "I'm just trying to take it all in and enjoy the moment as much as I can because hopefully I'm making field goals like I am, but I know I'm not going to be perfect, so I'm just trying to enjoy it and do the best I can especially with a big game coming up this weekend. "
ALL BUSINESS - WILDCATS HEAD TO WACO
When asked how he would describe the personality of this year's team, head coach Bill Snyder didn't have to think twice.
"Business-like," he said. "They are not a group that jumps up and down and yells and screams all the time, they just kind of go about their business, and they're focused on what they're doing. They're good guys."
Echoing his coach, quarterback Jake Waters credits his team's success so far this season to that business-like mindset Snyder spoke of.
"We take every game like it's the biggest game on our schedule and we have a pretty even-keeled group," explained Waters. "We didn't get too high when we were winning and after the losses to Auburn, TCU, we didn't get too low because we knew we still had a lot to play for, a chance to win the Big 12. Now, here we are, if we win this game (against Baylor) we're co-champions. So we just stay the course and try to get better. We can't get too high or too low, especially in a game like this because there are going to be swings, and it'll depend on who stays even-keeled the longest."
This weekend, No. 9 K-State will head to Waco, Texas, to take on the No. 5 Baylor Bears. Kickoff set for 6:45 p.m,. at McLane Stadium, and the game will be aired nationally on ESPN.
For more on this weekend's game, you can check out Wildcat Gameday by clicking here.
ALSO SEE: K-State Men's Basketball Uses Big Run to Defeat Omaha
Senior forward Nino Williams led three Wildcats in double figures with 19 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, as Kansas State pulled away from Nebraska-Omaha, 84-66, in its return from Maui before 12,126 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
To continue reading about last night's K-State men's basketball win, click here.