K-State rookie head coach Jerome Tang, Wildcats ride their ‘Crazy Faith’ to verge of Final Four

Jerome Tang has led Kansas State to the Elite Eight after a remarkable rookie coaching job.

Almost exactly a year ago, Jerome Tang inherited a Kansas State team that had just finished a three-year losing streak, the worst such span for the Wildcats since 1999-2003.

Point guard Markquis Nowell and forward Ismael Massoud were the only two players expected to return, so the new hire and first-time college head coach had to quickly make use of the transfer portal to bolster his squad’s depth.

Kansas State players and coaches have worn shirts with the logo “Crazy Faith” above two numbers, 1 and 2, followed by 13 blank spaces, representing the two players who stayed and the baker’s dozen who joined after Tang was hired in March. The No. 3 Wildcats will play No. 9 Florida Atlantic in the Elite Eight.

Massoud said it best when he remarked, “It’s simply a faith that can’t be emphasized enough.” To be able to achieve what we’re doing today is a testament to the confidence he placed in Markquise and me, as well as the coaching staff’s ability to assemble a winning squad around us.

Tang, who worked as an assistant for Scott Drew at Baylor for 19 years, had a tremendous first season as a head coach in the majors. Tang’s unwavering confidence in himself, his plan, and the players who bought into his vision for making Kansas State a title contender has been the driving force behind the team’s surprising success.

“Honestly, I’m just being myself here. It’s simply me being myself, “”Tang” stated. “In this manner, I have always existed. Nothing has changed on my end; I’ve simply been working behind the scenes for the last 19 years. I’ve always been who I am now, and I have no plans to alter.”

A longtime (and loyal) assistant

After joining Drew’s staff in 2003, Tang helped turn a Baylor team in chaos during the infamous Dave Bliss era into a national powerhouse that eventually won the national championship.

A national title has been on his mind ever since the day he chose Kansas State, Drew said. which many new employees believe, “Let’s simply have a winning season.” His dedication to his goals and his ability to see the big picture set him apart.”

Before that, Tang ran the basketball team at Heritage Christian School in Cleveland, Texas, for ten years. During that time, he turned the school into a powerhouse in the area.

This distinguishes him as a very unique collegiate coach: Tang has worked at the same three locations for the last 30 years.
“I could have spent the rest of my life as the youth pastor at Heritage Christian,” he remarked.

“In Baylor, I finally told God that I was OK with being an assistant for the rest of my life because I refused to let my self-worth depend on my position. I was ready for a change in direction if it meant leaving coaching to pursue a career in the ministry.”
Tang’s chance to lead a team didn’t begin at Kansas State.

Several opportunities presented themselves to him while he was still with the Bears (particularly when he was elevated to assistant head coach in 2017), but only the Wildcats were a good fit. Drew said, “He was picky about the positions he applied for.” “He declined employment opportunities for which he did not feel called or led.”

How Kansas State reached verge of Final Four

This group represents the present in many respects: With the relaxation of transfer rules allowing players to freely switch programs, Tang swiftly converted Kansas State into a championship contender by building around transfers.

In addition to Nowell and Massoud, forwards Keyontae Johnson and David N’Guessan and guards Cam Carter and Desi Sills were added to the team. This brought the Wildcats up to speed with the rest of the Big 12, which is widely thought to be the best league in the country this season.

As Carter put it, “he had a winning résumé, and I simply wanted to be a part of it” when referring to Tang’s career path. I share his enthusiasm for success and therefore accept all of his core beliefs.

Chasing program and NCAA history

  1. Just five other first-year coaches in Kansas State history have won 20 or more games. But that’s only the beginning of what Tang has accomplished and what he can do as a head coach in his first season.
  2. To date, he is the only first-year head coach in school history to get to the Sweet 16. If he beats Florida Atlantic on Saturday, he’ll become only the 11th first-year head coach in Division I history to reach the Final Four.
  3. If he wins on Saturday, he’ll equal Bruce Weber for the most victories by a first-year coach in school history.With one more victory, Kansas State would return to the Final Four for the first time since 1964, when Hall of Fame coach Tex Winter was at the helm of the school.
  4. Tang has a chance to become just the second first-year head coach in NCAA history to win a national title and the first to do it in a permanent capacity. Once the 1989 regular season was done, Michigan’s Steve Fisher temporarily took over as head coach.
  5. “According to Tang, “during the Big 12 media day, everyone thought I was insane because I had such wild faith.” We made it, and now they’re all like, “Wow, that was some serious faith.”

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