Coach Weber’s Record Breaking Coaching Win in Waco

By Larry Weigel

Kansas State’s veteran senior wing man-Rodney McGruder put the dagger in the Baylor Bears last Saturday in Waco with a three point swisher (nothing but net) with one second remaining on the clock to beat Baylor 64-61- giving Coach Bruce Weber his 24th win of the season - the most ever for a first year Kansas State basketball coach. “It’s a play we put in on the trip to Brazil,” said Weber. “We ran it against Oklahoma State one time early in the year, and we actually made it…now we can probably never run it again, but it sure gave us a good win today.”

Baylor’s coach Scott Drew sent Jacob Neubert a seldom used reserve into the game for the first time all night to launch a baseball pass the length of the court with one second remaining on the clock-with the idea it would reach the outstretched hands of Baylor’s seven foot center Isaiah Austin standing under Baylor’s basket at the opposite end for an easy layup.

Neubert’s pass sailed high in the air and into the crowd of Baylor fans wearing neon yellow T-shirts.  The Baylor team was also decked out in the bright neon yellow colored uniforms with matching yellow shoes.  Could the bright neon sea of yellow in the stands have caused a color blind moment for Neubert in trying to locate his seven foot target?  Who knows? I practically needed sunglasses watching Baylor’s neon yellow-green all night.

Baylor Neon Green uniformSince no player touched the ball, Kansas State got the ball back under its own basket with one second remaining.  Weber called the play, McGruder made the shot- and his teammates mobbed him on center court for the celebration.

T.V Sports analyst for the game Bob Knight seemed to be doing both play by play and color commentating throughout the game. Knight is a Naismith hall of fame coach and is extremely knowledgeable about the game- but tends to coach for both teams throughout the entire game telling what went wrong on every possession…and occasionally what went right. I believe Knight would be a better color analyst if he told his viewing audience “what time it is” (regarding appropriate comments at the right time) - instead of telling viewers “how to build a watch” after each possession.  Although his analysis is very accurate… I noticed that he didn’t have an opportunity to comment after McGruder’s made basket because - the TV cameras showed the brief player celebration on the floor after the win… but cut away to the next game before Knight could tell us what the Baylor team did wrong and why they lost the game.

I turned to Jack Hartman’s play book to fill in for Knight with a “Hartman Coach’s Corner” moment on what Baylor should have done.  And- since Knight has such a high regard for Hartman- it seems fitting to share it.

Hartman taught me his out of bounds defensive plays when I coached for him during the 1970-71 season - his first year at Kansas State…-and I’ve always felt he won many games as a result of his innovative strategy on out of bounds situations under the basket.  And- as I was writing this last night- I can still hear him telling it to his players exactly as I’ll describe it below - from my playbook notes I’ve saved after all these years.

1.    He would not have instructed Baylor’s in bound player Neubert to throw a baseball pass knowing that if no one touched the ball, Kansas State would get the ball back under their own basket.  Jack played the percentages and would have either attempted a mid court pass for the shot- making sure someone touched the ball… or as the footballers do “take a knee” and try to win in overtime.

2.    Once Baylor lost possession of the ball, he would not have played man to man defense under Kansas State’s basket.  He would have used his inverted 2-3 zone changing it to a 3-2 with emphasis to prevent any possibilities of one of his defender’s getting caught up in a back pick which K-State’s Gibson set for McGruder leading to a wide open shot.

3.    He would have placed his defenders in the following positions under the basket:

a.    Defender # 5 would have shaded his position to the ball side to anticipate and prevent the inbound player Angel Rodriguez from making a high lob pass to a KSU big man under the basket for an easy score.

b.    Defender # 4 would have been positioned on the baseline with arms stretched high and maintaining his position half way in the direct passing lane between Angel throwing the ball in and the shooter in the corner to prevent a direct pass for a three point shot.

c.    Defender #1 would anticipate and be ready for the lob play and be in a position to help teammate #5.

d.    Defender #3 would be ready to close on the corner shooter.

e.    Defender # 2 would be ready to close on the wing where McGruder took the shot.

Fortunately -Hartman’s “intellectual capital” was not available to the Baylor team in the huddle.

Jack Hartman’s Prevent Defense 3-4-13And, fortunately for Kansas State we have a coach who knows what plays to run in tight situations and how to win games.

Congratulations Coach Weber for your record setting 24th win of the season and for your leadership of our Kansas State basketball program… Your are making more and more “raving” Kansas State fans very happy after each win.  Go Cats….

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