"Committed" Kansas State alumni squad looking to avenge disappointing TBT 2018

 

By: Zachary Dupont | @ZachDupont2


Purple & Black treating TBT 2019 as a "fresh start" after first-round exit

Kansas State has been a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament over the past 10 years, including appearances in the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2018. That same success has carried over to TBT, where alumni squad Purple & Black made a run to the Super 16 in 2017. So, for many Kansas State fans, an early exit from TBT wasn’t something even remotely on the radar.

That became their reality in TBT 2018.

In the first round of last summer’s South Regional, 10th-seeded Purple & Black took on seventh-seeded Dirty South. Despite a 25-point outburst from Marquis Addison, Purple & Black couldn’t overcome its lack of depth (they only showed up with six players) and lost 76-74.

While it would be easy to make excuses, Purple & Black General Manager and starting forward D.J Johnson says that regardless of the circumstances, losing in the first round is unacceptable.

“At the end of the day we put ourselves in the predicament of not having any subs,” said Johnson. “But that’s no excuse, we got fatigued and couldn’t score the ball.”

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While TBT may have been a short-lived experience in 2018 for Purple & Black, they are planning a much longer stay in 2019. On Tuesday, TBT announced that Purple & Black was officially accepted into the Wichita Regional.

For Johnson and the rest of the squad, a successful run this summer is dependent on leaving last year in the past.

“I feel like this is a fresh start,” said Johnson. “We know what we got and we know what we’re bringing to the table, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t win the regional.”

Another key for Purple & Black heading into TBT 2019 is a new 7-10 day long training camp that will take place in Manhattan prior to the start of the tournament. Johnson says that this, along with a much more committed roster, will be paramount to Purple & Black’s success.

“I’ve been brainstorming with some of the guys from last year about what it would take to be successful, and what it came down to was hosting our own camp,”  said Johnson. “But, to change the situation we were in last year, it comes down to us working hard and finding enough committed guys.”

While Johnson may be creating a new culture for the team, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any similarities from last summer. Johnson is bringing back starting guard and leading scorer Marquis Addison. Also returning is Addison’s backcourt partner Martavious Irving and forward Thomas Gipson, who are both beloved figures in Manhattan.

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Some new names include 2014 Second-team All-Big 12 member Marcus Foster and 2016 grad Justin Edwards, who are currently playing pro ball in South Korea and Israel respectively. They’ve also added some height, bringing aboard Bakersfield Jam forward Akeem Wright and the returning Curts Kelly, who played with Purple & Black in TBT 2017.

“I’m happy to say they’re real committed,” said Johnson. “They just seem really committed to getting to Manhattan and working out for those first seven to 10 days and I’m excited about that more than anything else because the preparation and commitment is going to be huge for us this year.”

With the skeleton now in place, Johnson says that he hopes to add up to three more big names before training camp gets underway.

“With these last three guys we are going to announce later on,” said Johnson, “those three guys will be real big and I think the fans will be really excited about them.”

In addition to getting revenge for last year, TBT 2019 has brought on a special meaning for Purple & Black. Playing just under two hours away from Manhattan will afford them the opportunity to reconnect with the Kansas State faithful.

“We’re going to pack the house, we got to pack the house,” said Johnson. “There’s no question that our fans are going to show up, it’s just the K-state thing to do.”