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Weber named Big 12 Coach of the Year

By Joel Jellison

After leading Kansas State to its first league title in 36 years and the best regular season in school history, coach Bruce Weber was honored as the Big 12 Coach of the Year on Sunday night.

One day after finishing the regular season with a 25-6 overall record and 14-4 record in the Big 12 to win a share of the league’s regular season title, Weber was among a few Wildcats honored by the conference coaches.

Senior Rodney McGruder was named to the All-Big12 first team, along with Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Oklahoma’s Romero Osby.
McGruder scored 15.1 points per game this season and is just the third K-State player to be named to the first team. The Naismith Award candidate is part of a senior class that has won 99 games to become the winningest in school history.

Freshman point guard Angel Rodriguez was honored with a selection to the second team after scoring 11.5 points and dishing 5.4 assists per game this season. He was also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, becoming the fourth K-State player to receive the honor since 2010.

Junior forward Shane Southwell was an honorable mention pick.

Weber, who set the record for most wins by a first-year coach, has now been named coach of the year in three different conferences (MVC, Big Ten and Big 12).

Smart was named Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, making him the third player in the history of the conference to win those awards in the same season.

K-State also received the Big 12 trophy on Sunday evening, and Weber released a statement late Saturday night on the accomplishment.

“Obviously, I’m elated for our players, staff and the entire K-State nation that we were able to win a share of the Big 12 Championship,” he said. “I know how much time our team put in to getting to this point. It’s not an easy thing to do and it’s not exactly the way we planned the day to go. However, to get a trophy and to get to hang a banner is special.

“K-State hadn’t done that in men’s basketball in 36 years and I’m happy that our team was able to end that streak. It’s been a gutsy season for our kids and I’m just really, really excited for our team and in particular our seniors.”

K-State became the just the third school in Big 12 history to win the conference title in football and men’s basketball in the same academic year — joining Oklahoma and Texas — and the 11th BCS school to do so since 1996.

K-State is just the second school in Big 12 history to have its football and men’s basketball coaches earn coach of the year honors in the same season, with Bill Snyder and Weber winning a combined 36 games. Only one school — Louisville — has combined to win more football and basketball games this season with 37.

The Wildcats will host a pep rally and trophy celebration Monday in Bramlage Coliseum at 6 p.m. to celebrate the first league title since the1976-77 season, as the team will cut down the nets and address the crowd.
The K-State pep band, Willie the Wildcat and spirit groups are scheduled to perform, while university president Kirk Schulz, athletic director John Currie, Weber, McGruder, Martavious Irving and Jordan Henriquez will speak to the crowd. Big 12 championship merchandise will also be available.

The Wildcats will be the No. 2 seed for the Big 12 tournament this week at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. They will open against the winner of No. 7-seed Texas and No. 10-seed TCU on Thursday at 6 p.m. The game will be shown on the Big 12 Network.

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