MANHATTAN, KS. (KSNT)- Jerome Tang is getting ready to coach in his first Sunflower Showdown.
The Wildcats’ head coach is not new to the Big 12, but he is new to this rivalry. In fact, he feels his team has to do its part in even making this matchup a ‘rivalry.’
“To me a rivalry is like when both teams are winning games and it’s close, not just because one fan base doesn’t like the other fan base,” Tang said. “To make it a rivalry both sides got to do something, and I don’t know that we have made it a rivalry. That’s what I’m here to do, to try and make it a rivalry.”
Tang admits he doesn’t know a ton in regards to history and tradition of the Sunflower Showdown. Although, he did recently learn it’s the sixth-most-played matchup in the history of DI men’s college basketball.
K-State coming out on the winning end more often is not the only change Coach Tang wants to see take place for the in-state meetings. In Monday’s press conference he called on fans, specifically students, to change the way they see these games.
“I don’t want our fans to show up to the game because they hate the other team,” Tang said. “I want them to show up because they love Kansas State. Our guys, every guy on our roster, they didn’t pick this school because they hated somebody else. They picked this school because they love us as a staff, they love this community and they love this university.”
He says that change of mindset could have a powerful impact.
“I would be real interested to see how we can really change this thing around if we’re motivated by love, rather than by hate,” Tang said.
Tang even says, in his opinion, K-State folks often worry too much about their foe down I-70.
“I feel like we, the Kansas State community and family, allow them to live rent free in our heads way too much,” Tang said.
Coach says it’s important to understand that from the standpoint of their record and season success these games don’t hold any more value than the others.
“It’s one game in the conference,” Tang said. “If we win we get one win. If we lose we get one loss. That’s it.”
The team’s goals are much bigger than just beating one other team, he says.
“I came to try and win a Big 12 Championship and win a National Championship,” Tang said.
K-State and KU tipoff at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16.