When the Kansas State men’s basketball team takes the court today, it will be nine days removed from its first loss of the season.
And that stretch, this early in the season, is something Wildcats’ coach Bruce Weber hasn’t always been so fond of.
But after spending that time getting some much-needed work done with the offense, the first-year K-State coach can see the benefits after all.
The practice time allowed the Wildcats to scrimmage on Wednesday, helping fix some of the glaring issues from K-State’s ugly loss to Michigan in the NIT Tip-Off final.
“When we first did the schedule, I did not like it at all, to be honest,” he said. “You only have really three games in three weeks. Sometimes you feel like you get going and you need that game rep, and that’s why we scrimmaged, to get game conditioning.”
The Wildcats will pick up their schedule with a game against South Carolina Upstate today in Bramlage Coliseum at 1 p.m.
One of the key ingredients missing during K-State’s trip to New York was the same kind of energy it played with in it’s first four games at home.
Weber hopes that’s something his team can rediscover by returning to home.
“You hope you get out there and play with the same energy and enthusiasm, that’s been the emphasis all week,” he said. “I thought against Michigan, we were lacking that a little bit.
“I don’t know if we were in a deer-in-the-headlights type of thing. We have to get that back and bring it with us on the road when we go.”
The Spartans are led by reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Torrey Craig, who averages 17.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Adrian Rodgers is scoring 12.8 per game for Upstate.
Weber said Craig is the type of player that can give any team problems.
“You’ve got a 6-5, 6-6 kid that is very mobile and can do a lot of things, so you’ve got a challenge,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to stop top scorers.”
Weber said the spirit of the team seemed upbeat as it practiced this week, and more focused on moving on and getting better rather than looking back and letting the loss to Michigan linger.
The biggest thing the loss to the Wolverines did for this K-State team, is show it what it need to improve upon.
“I think they’re fine — I hope they’re disappointed — I’m disappointed,” Weber said. “I watched it three of four times, and they watched it — we competed. Michigan is very good.
“Could we have competed better? Yeah, there is no doubt. Do we have to learn and get better? Yes.”
The Wildcats seemingly struggled to find their shooting stroke against Michigan, missing shots it had typically made earlier this season. But those same shooting problems seemed to originate in the semi-final game against Delaware.
The biggest issue in the missed shots the Wildcats had against Michigan, was that they produced easy transition opportunities for the Wolverines.
“We had some shots, Will (Spradling) had three or four straight-on looks, second half we took rushed shots and that hurt us because they got transition,” Weber said. “Once you let them get transition, they are really good.”
Now eight games into the season, including the exhibition contests, Weber said they know where they have to improve. Much of that need for improvement falls on the offense, and the long gap between games gave the coaching staff a chance to shore it up.
“You kind of know what you need to work on, both as individuals and as a team,” he said. “Obviously, one thing is offensively and getting shots up. We’ve got to make shots. That’s what we’re trying to do.”