Dean Wade re­turns from in­jury, gives K-State an in­stant boost against Iowa State

The Wichita Eagle - - Comics - BY KELLIS ROBINETT krobi­[email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

Dean Wade caught a pass at the free-throw line, took one drib­ble on his way to the rim and then soared into the air for a two-handed dunk. You had to be at Hilton Coli­seum early Sat­ur­day morn­ing to see that par­tic­u­lar play, as it hap­pened in warm-ups about an hour be­fore open­ing tip of Kansas State’s 58-57 vic­tory over Iowa State. But it had a big im­pact on what tran­spired once the game be­gan. It showed Wade was back. The se­nior K-State for­ward had been out four weeks and missed six games be­cause of a torn ten­don in his right foot, an in­jury that threat­ened to de­rail his fi­nal year of col­lege bas­ket­ball after he was cho­sen Big 12 Pre­sea­son Player of the Year. The Wild­cats looked lost at times without him, par­tic­u­larly on of­fense. They needed him back in the lineup against a de­mand­ing con­fer­ence sched­ule. He re­turned Sat­ur­day and made an in­stant im­pact, de­spite look­ing rusty and fin­ish­ing with two points and nine re­bounds. That much was ob­vi­ous when he scored his lone bas­ket on a driv­ing layup with 2 min­utes, 10 sec­onds re­main­ing. “It felt great,” Wade said. “There were no sec­ond thoughts when I started driv­ing. I kind of felt like I was never hurt. The first cou­ple times I tried to jump and my legs were a lit­tle shaky. My con­di­tion­ing (stunk), but that one felt good. I was ag­gres­sive and I had no doubt in my mind I was go­ing to make it. No thoughts of my foot. I’m hop­ing that shot right there helps shake some of the rust off.” Wade should be back to his old self soon. When­ever that hap­pens, he will form a one-two-three scor­ing punch with Barry Brown and Ka­mau Stokes that could al­low the Wild­cats to jump back into the top 25 and chase their lofty pre­sea­son ex­pec­ta­tions. But the fas­ci­nat­ing thing about this game was that Wade showed he can help K-State without step­ping up as its lead­ing scorer. He was also solid on de­fense and strong on the glass. K-State coach Bruce We­ber in­tended to play Wade no more than 20 min­utes, giv­ing him time to ease back into things be­fore push­ing him for ma­jor pro­duc­tion. “It’s not like rid­ing a bike,” We­ber said. But when the game be­gan, he in­serted Wade into the start­ing lineup. And when the game ended, with Wade al­ready at his min­utes limit, he chose to keep him on the floor. Why? He was too valu­able to put on the bench, even at less than full strength. “We went back with him to find a way to win,” We­ber said, “and he got a big bas­ket down the stretch.”

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