Over the past 10 days, Kansas State players have experienced a significant contrast in coaching styles — a change that some of the players prefer.
“I really like it,” sophomore guard Will Spradling said. “It’s a big difference and I feel like it’s for the better.”
Frank Martin was a demanding coach, and Bruce Weber, the new K-State head coach, is as well. But how the two head coaches go about everything is as different as night and day.
“The biggest noticeable difference is probably just the cursing and the screaming during practice,” Spradling said. “Coach Weber tries to stay a lot more positive. He’s going to compliment you on things you’re doing right but he’s not afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong. He really tries to help you.
“Other than that you’re still getting the same energy and intensity we had last year. We still work just as hard as we did so there’s no difference in that.”
Martin was a yeller who wore his emotions on his sleeve. He’d often let his players know what he thought in a volatile manner.
Weber keeps his language under control. He smiles and laughs with the guys, but he also lets them know if they aren’t doing something the right way.
“If you do what you’re supposed to then you can be positive,” Weber said. “As a coach that’s what you want. They’re going to have bad days. Everyone does. When they have the bad days it’s our chance (to get after them). But if we have to yell all the time then it gets tough.
“Right now my goal is to get a trust level, get a respect level, develop some kind of relationship.”
Jordan Henriquez believes that relationship is developing in a positive way.
“(Weber) doesn’t wear you down as Coach Martin would do,” Henriquez said. “It’s all self motivation. (Martin’s) negativity toward you is to push you and motivate you to do better. Coach Weber is always positive.”
Weber is a hands-on coach. He’s actively involved in drills. He makes entry passes to the Wildcats’ big men — and if you look away for a second, he’ll be at the other end of the court coaching up another player.
“He always keeps it fun and tries to end (workouts) with a lot more competition,” Spradling said. “That really keeps us focused and concentrated throughout the whole workout. He doesn’t ever lose our focus at all.”
Weber has an affable personality, and so far, it’s something the Wildcats have taken a liking to.
“I truly do believe that everyone is going to stick around,” Henriquez said. “I think everyone is happy. Everybody is on the same page.”
Filling out the
Weber still has two assistant-coaching spots to fill, something he’d like to have done by the end of the week.
“Some of it’s paperwork, some of it’s just allowing my former staff to kind of figure some things out,” Weber said on Wednesday. “I would hope by the end of this week I can pretty much — at least the full-time guys, feel pretty good about.”
That former staff includes Jerrance Howard, who was not retained by new Illinois head coach John Groce. Howard was the lead recruiter for several of Weber’s top players at Illinois.
“Jerrance has a contract and he’s got to resolve that with Illinois,” Weber said.
Jay Price, who was with Weber for all nine seasons as an assistant at Illinois, is also a candidate to join the K-State staff, though it appears the odds of that happening are on the decline.
“Jay is just trying to decide which way to go in life more than anything,” Weber said. “I’m trying to respect that a little bit but at the same we’ve got to move on.”
Shawn Forrest, an assistant coach at North Texas, was in Manhattan on Wednesday and could be a candidate for one of the spots.
“Just somebody we’re talking to,” Weber said when he was asked about Forrest.
Forrest has recruiting ties in the state of Texas, something Weber has said he’d like to have on his staff.
Rodney McGruder remained on crutches and in a walking boot after a minor procedure was done to his foot following the season. Angel Rodriguez was a spectator during workouts after having a minor procedure done to his knee after the season.
Nino Williams was also held out after having a small operation on his knee to repair some minor ligament damage.
All are expected to be back near full strength by the beginning of the summer.
Weber expects to have one scholarship available for the current recruiting class, which likely means Laimonas Chatkevicius, who signed with the Wildcats this fall, will not be joining the team.
“I think right now there’s a couple kids that we would look at,” Weber said.
Weber said he’d like to get a transfer who could come in and sit out this season while getting acclimated with the system.
“We have so many seniors,” Weber said. “I had six freshmen (last year) and it’s really hard. Three is probably enough if you can build with a class like that. I think a transfer or two we would feel pretty positive about if it’s the right one.”