Cats want more from Spradling

By Joel Jellison

When Angel Rodriguez announced his decision to transfer from Kansas State last April, Will Spradling knew what it meant for him.

With Rodriguez, Spradling had mostly been a spot-up shooter for the Wildcats, playing point guard sparingly. With Rodriguez sidelined by injury last season, Spradling struggled to run the Wildcats’ offense in a low-scoring win over lowly Kansas City.

But despite that, Spradling knew when the 2013-14 season opened, he would be K-State’s new point guard. And he knew he had work to do.

Spradling was asked by his coaches to spend the offseason preparing to take the reins of the offense. And he answered the call.

For one, Spradling went to work on his strength, putting on 15 pounds. Some of that strength work was in his legs. Throughout last season, K-State coach Bruce Weber said Spradling needed to get stronger in his legs to have a better shot.

Spradling said the differences have been noticeable.

“I use my body a lot more than I used to,” he said. “I tried to use my smartness, but now I’ve got the body to go with it. I put on about 15 pounds this offseason, and it’s been good weight, I haven’t lost any quickness or any speed.”

Past that, Spradling took a 10-day basketball trip to Europe and focused exclusively on playing point guard. Spradling admits that trip was the biggest part of getting ready for the upcoming season.

Weber said when that season starts, everything on the floor will start with their senior point guard.

“I think sometimes people take him for granted,” Weber said. “He does so much for you as a player. You can play him at the point, you can play him at the two. He has great awareness on defense. He just knows what you are doing ahead of time. A lot like McGruder, he leads by example. He is not very outspoken.”

Weber said he considers his team fortunate to have a player like Spradling after Rodriguez trasnferred from the team in April. With Rodriguez, Spradling and Martavious Irving all capable of playing at point guard a season ago, Weber said they were able to rotate many guys into plays and on and off the court, and he attributes it to the teams’ success.

But the one problem Weber is worried about, is making sure Spradling can still get his shot. Admittedly, Spradling said he is always looking to make a play to a teammate.

“The biggest problem when he plays point, is he doesn’t get a lot of looks because once you get into the system, he had to take so much effort to get into stuff,” Weber said. “Now it is tough getting him back involved. We are trying to get into a couple different looks where we ease the pressure on him and yet keep him involved in the offense.”

One thing Weber has always liked about Spradling, since his own arrival as K-State coach, is his ability to handle the ball. Weber’s application of the play-hard chart at K-State showed that Spradling was often near the top of the list, if not at the top.

Last season he was one of the best players in the Big 12 in terms of assist-to-turnover ratio, and Spradling said he’s worked to get even better with his ball decisions.

Whether he is shooting, driving or passing, it’s all to accomplish one goal in his head. And it’s also how Spradling wants to be remembered when his K-State career comes to an end.

“I want to be remembered as a guy who did what it took to win,” he said. “One that helped us get back to winning a conference championship. I just do whatever it takes to win, and that doesn’t mean I have to go out and I have to score every game. That means that one game I’m going to be more of a passer and if someone gets hot I’m going to get them the ball. There’s games where I might not put up points and others where I will.”

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