The Kansas State men’s basketball team is experiencing a crisis of leadership.
Sitting at 5-3 overall, but with those three losses coming within the past four games, head coach Bruce Weber didn’t mince words about his team following a 73-65 setback to Marquette at Bramlage Coliseum Saturday night. Senior Xavier Sneed, he said, is showing the leadership one would hope for an upperclassman. It’s the other veteran players Weber wants to see step up to help in that area.
Easier said than done.
“Somebody else has to have a voice,” Weber said. “Emotion, we’ve got to have some emotion. It has got to come from someone besides me. If me and the coaches have to bring the emotion every day in practice, we’re going to be in trouble. It’s going to be a long season. ... (The emotion) has got to come from the team. That’s got to come. That’s got to come over the course of time.”
Part of the problem, in Weber’s estimation, is that his players thought the early season was “going to be easier than it was.”
Instead, they are heading into Wednesday’s game against Alabama State — which will tip off 7 p.m. at Bramlage and air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ — looking for answers. There are three characteristics specifically, talking points he’s referenced all season, that Weber wants to start seeing regularly.
“I used the words ‘consistency,’ ‘dependable’ and ‘efficiency,’ and that was back in August,” Weber said. “Right now, we are not consistent, we are not dependable, and we are not efficient.
“That’s got to come over the course of time. They’re new. This is all new. It’s a new team, new positions, new roles. I wish it was easier, but it isn’t. It hasn’t come as easy as we all hoped.”
Outside of Sneed, Weber said he loves what he’s seen from the team’s freshmen trio: guard DaJuan Gordon and forwards Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy.
A Texas native, Murphy started the first three games of the season, but has missed the past five with a nagging injury. Antonio Gordon continues to receive increased playing time in the interim, while DaJuan Gordon made a number of key plays in Saturday’s defeat, even taking on the responsibility of guarding Markus Howard, the nation’s leading scorer, on multiple possessions.
Seeing what the youthful trio brings each time out gives Weber hope for the future. He just doesn’t like what it means for the present.
“We shouldn’t have to depend on them,” said Weber, referring to the three freshmen. “That’s the biggest problem, I think, more than anything.”