At this point of the season, Kansas State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber said he doesn’t have a starting five.
After a three-period scrimmage before Saturday’s football game against Texas Tech, Weber said that’s what the exhibition game against Washburn and Emporia State will help them iron out.
The Wildcats will play the first of those two game Tuesday night, hosting Washburn at Bramlage Coliseum.
“We’ve got to get some guys some time and minutes and start figuring out who is what,” Weber said. “They earn a chance everyday to get minutes, but now you kind of solidify it in scrimmages and exhibition games. We’re trying to figure out who the top five or six are, and than who’s going to be seven, eight, nine.”
If there was any indication of what that five might be, it might have been shown in the final period at Saturday’s scrimmage, when Weber put together a group of Angel Rodriguez, Will Spradling, Rodney McGruder, Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez. That group did go on to lose 22-17 in the eight-minute period to another group of five from the team, but it was just a scrimmage.
Weber said it’s important for everyone to stay competitive as they continue to earn their minutes.
“Maybe some of them are going through the emotions a little bit, they just think they’re going to play,” he said. “I do stats every four days, we give it to them, we stat every scrimmage, here’s where you stand, this is what you’ve done in practice everyday. You play as you practice, I’m a firm believer in that.”
Weber said a current starting five sort of comes and goes with the coaching staff, but response to live action will ultimately lead to the decision when the Wildcats open against North Dakota on Nov. 9.
And once the season starts, Weber said they will make adjustments as needed.
“I don’t know how you know you have a starting five this early, this is their chance to earn,” he said. “The thing I want is competition in practice, that’s why I do this. We get through that first exhibition game, now you got to finally start to put together a little bit of a lineup, but that could change a lot over the early part of the season.”
Of their exhibition games, Washburn offers the strongest challenge with the Ichabods returning much of its group from last season.
The Ichabods open their season ranked No. 4 in the NABC Preseason Polls, and are coached by former K-State player Bob Chipman. It will be the fourth meeting between K-State and Washburn in exhibition play.
“They’re very good, Washburn is very good,” he said. “I think they’re favored to win the league, they won the league last year, they’ve got everyone back, they went on a trip, they’ve got a kid that’s an All-American guard, so that’ll be a challenge. Coach Chipman, coach Chipman’s son, it’s a good dress rehearsal to see what we’re about.”