Bruce Weber knows he has a hard-nosed, defensively sound basketball team.
Now Weber says the Kansas State men’s basketball team needs to get consistent on offense. Oh, and improve their free throw shooting. And getting some leadership would be nice too.
Just four practices into the season, Weber said it’s an exciting time at K-State, and he hopes to tap into the positivity.
“There’s so much positive energy with the athletic program, with the whole campus — obviously football, volleyball, equestrian having great seasons — the fan support, for us the practice facility being opened and just seeing the commitment there and I think even on campus — President Schulz’s vision for 2025,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of to be honest, I think we all feel it as a staff. Now what can we do with it? Can we use this positive energy to keep our program going in the right direction?”
That will be the question for K-State in its first season under Weber. Can the Wildcats keep the successful athletic season going from the fall into the winter?
It will all start with consistency for the Wildcats, a trait that Weber said was missing from last season, and might have been the biggest contributing factor to the team’s 10-8 record in Big 12 Conference play.
“If you study stats from last year, if you watch film, they just weren’t always consistent as they needed to be,” Weber said. “Maybe that was because they only had one senior, had a freshman point guard at times, and that leads to that inconsistency. That’s something we’ve harped on. We’ve got to be consistent on a daily basis.”
K-State returns four starters with seven players that started last season, and three seniors in Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving.
But what the team seems to lack, Weber said, is the player that’s willing to take the reins and be the leader.
“I think leadership is something we’ve talked about a lot with them,” he said. “Somebody’s got to grab it, somebody’s got to be the leader. Rodney does it by example, every one does it differently. Jordan’s kind of the social guy, everybody gets along with him, he talks to everybody — I call him the Mayor of Manhattan because he probably shakes more hands than the Mayor here.
“We’ve talked a lot about holding everybody accountable, whether it’s going to class, getting to practice, playing, the intensity level, listening to coaches in the locker room, all that stuff adds up.”
Of the players on the roster, Weber said he would most like to see McGruder become more vocal about his teammates rather than himself. He’d also like to see players like Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling, who primarily play point guard, take up leadership roles.
Weber said the defensive-minded, tough attitude that Frank Martin instilled in his teams during his five years at the helm of the program is still present in the group that returns this season. Now it’s a matter of getting the team to take the next step offensively.
Along with the defensive attitude comes a competitive motor that rarely slows down. Weber said they have worked on keeping that competiveness channeled in the right directions.
“They compete sometimes beyond kind of what we want,” he said. “We talk a lot about controlling our emotions, that’s something you can control.
“You can compete, but you still have to stay under control with how you present yourself in the game and with how you deal with different situations.”
Another area of concern for Weber is free-throw shooting. The Wildcats shot 67 percent from the line last season, and the K-State coach is hoping the team’s 75 percent performance at the line during the Brazil trip is indicative.
“Free throws have to get better,” he said. “We got the new practice facility — lots of baskets to practice on — hopefully that will help.”