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K-State trying to get healthy

By Joel Jellison

The scrimmages are done with, now it’s time to get the real games going.

Of course, Kansas State men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber is glad this Friday’s game against Pittsburg State is just an exhibition.

When the Wildcats take the Bramlage Coliseum floor at 8 p.m., Weber isn’t sure just who will be on the floor. The Wildcats have suffered a slew of injuries recently, and several players are day-to-day.

Weber said he plans to script the first half minutes and second half start playing certain players based on the situation. But it all depends on who’s available.

“We have had so many injuries,” Weber said. “Will (Spradling) has been out for a while. Shane (Southwell) is out. Nino (Williams) is out. Thomas Gipson is out. He is day-to-day. It’s been a whole bunch of things.

“I was talking to (athletic trainer) Brandon (Yoder) today, and it’s like the song, ‘head, shoulders, knees, and toes.’ Now we just have to hope to get them all back for Friday and then next week (for the opener).”

One of the most important things Friday’s exhibition will bring is another opportunity to see how officials will call the new adjusted fouls against hand checking, which have been altered to more similar to the NBA’s rules — which don’t allow hand checking.

Weber said in limited experience with the new rules, it’s been touch and go for his team.

“I just hope that it doesn’t ruin basketball,” Weber said. “I watched the NBA (Tuesday) and they still allow some body contact in the lane. You have to play basketball. You’ve got to guard. This is not the 50s and 60s where no one went near each other, and they shot set shots.

“I understand if you want to clean it up outside, that’s fine. We will adjust, but at the same time, it’s part of strategy, and coaching to guard people. Do you want to just hand it over to the top guy because they can just drive it? To me that is not basketball.”

After spending the last month practicing, Weber said his team is ready to start playing someone else. With just two returning starters and five freshmen to throw into the bunch, the Wildcats also need to earn quick experience before they head to Puerto Rico for a tournament beginning on Nov. 21.

K-State will have just four games, including Friday’s exhibition, before the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and Weber said his team needs to learn quickly.

“We had our scrimmage, and now they get to play in front of people, and they need experience,” he said. “Last year we had experience and that is why we were successful. These guys need experience and live stuff, especially the young guys. I told them today that they are starting to figure out roles a little bit, and you wish you were a little bit more established. Between injuries and a lot of new faces, it will probably take us awhile.”

One player who has been gaining quick attention for the Wildcats is freshman guard Marcus Foster. While the league is full of fresh faces gaining both regional and national attention, Foster is quietly gaining traction locally.

In two scrimmages in front of fans, Foster has shown the ability to be a scorer. Expected to take Rodney McGruder’s place in the K-State lineup, Foster will have his first chance to show what he can do in games on Friday.

Weber said Foster is still working to be more consistent.

“Some days he seems like a junior and then the next day he seems like a freshman,” he said.

“Our older guys have got to be consistent. They have to be the foundation of our program for our young guys. So when they have a bad day, like all freshmen do, then we will hopefully still be able to find a way to win games.”

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