The Kansas State men’s basketball team will go to New York City next week for the NIT Season Tip-Off, but they still have a game at home before they head to The Big Apple.
And it could be a pretty important one.
Last season, just three days after losing to West Virginia in double overtime, the Wildcats allowed North Florida, their opponent on Sunday, to come from behind in the second half and force overtime.
K-State survived the test with a 79-68 win, but coach Bruce Weber hopes it’s a game they haven’t forgotten.
“I think the best thing about North Florida is that they took them to overtime last year - hopefully their thoughts will still be there,” he said. “I said ‘congratulations, we’re going to New York, but we’ve got to play North Florida,’ when I got to the locker room on Tuesday night.”
The Wildcats have three convincing wins and a pair of solid performances in exhibition play, but the game against North Florida could have the potential to be a tough one for K-State if it’s caught napping.
Weber said the Ospreys are a team that will look to push the pace of the game.
“They’ll be aggressive on both ends of the court, they’ll trap you and try to use their defense to create some offense,” he said. “We just can’t let them get going and set the tone defensively.”
The game will offer sophomore forward Adrian Diaz the chance to matchup against brother Andy Diaz, a junior for North Florida.
While Weber said the storyline with the brothers has been talked about, the team knows progressing each game is the most important factor.
“I think its been talked about since they popped up on the schedule, but I think more because they had to find a way to get a win over them in overtime last year,” he said. “Yes, we’ve got the family rivalry, but it’s about our team and consistency. I think that’s the most important thing.”
The Wildcats have won their three games by an average of 39.3 points, but Weber said they were games they should have won.
The important thing is that they have won the game impressively with great defensive effort and great energy.
Weber said another key to this point is how different each team they’ve played has been.
“Every game we’ve faced something different,” he said. “Now you start to get your database full of different offense that you’ve got to face, and then mentally they’ve got a better concept, better feel of how to guard some things.”
Since Weber took over as the Wildcats coach, he’s talked about working on being consistent everyday and getting the players to buy in to the new offensive system.
Weber said accomplishing those things is made slightly easier by the success.
“I think when you have success it helps,” he said. “It’s important for us to go to New York, because that means we won. When you have success, it makes it a lot easier to believe in it.”