KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Injuries that continue to plague a pair of Kansas State forwards is beginning to bug Bruce Weber.
Neither fourth-year junior James Love III nor third-year sophomore Nigel Shadd played in the Wildcats' intrasquad scrimmage last week. And for two players who both already have used medical redshirts because of prior injuries, it's disappointing for Weber.
"It's sad for both of them," Weber said at the Big 12 men's basketball media day at the Sprint Center Wednesday. "because they have been hurt before."
Both players have been reserves for the entirety of their K-State careers.
Love has scored a total of 16 points in two seasons, appearing in 34 games and averaging 3.5 minutes per contest. Shadd's numbers are eerily similar: he's played in 21 games — he played in eight games as a freshman in 2017-18 before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury — and scored 11 points.
While they've yet to take on starring roles for the Wildcats, that didn't matter to Weber.
In between his various appearances at the media day event, Weber said he called Luke Sauber, the primary trainer for the men’s basketball program. Weber's chief priority in dialing Sauber was for an update on Love and Shadd. But it's also because, as Weber noted, their absences "put us in a bind for big guys and practice."
Love is the Wildcats' tallest player, standing at 6-foot-11; the 6-foot-9 Shadd is the team's heaviest player, weighing 250 pounds. Depending on how much time they miss, it puts pressure on the remaining forwards on the roster — seniors Makol Mawien and Pierson McAtee, junior Levi Stockard III and freshmen Montavious Murphy and Antonio Gordon — to shoulder more minutes.
K-State will hold its first preseason exhibition at 8 p.m. Friday, hosting Emporia State at Bramlage Coliseum. That follows with the Wildcats' second and final scrimmage, which comes at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Washburn University. While missing the exhibitions won't matter one way or the other — given the fact the result won't count against K-State's record, nor should the team actually need either to dispatch of the two smaller in-state schools — if both are sidelined for an extended time, it could start to put more strain on the rest of the roster.
Which is what worries Weber.
"I just get frustrated ... because we've got to have enough guys to practice," he said, "and you want to have enough bodies when games get started."
As K-State prepares to welcome Emporia to town Friday night, Weber offered some insight on how his players have progressed since the scrimmage.
In short: The two players expected to lead the Wildcats in scoring this season have fared well.
"Xavier, I thought, has had a real good week. He's been consistent. I think he's finally relaxed. Cartier, obviously, had a really good scrimmage and he's starting to get it," Weber said, referring to the duo of Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra.
Freshman guard DaJuan Gordon, Weber said, has "been consistent," while fellow freshmen Antonio Gordon and Murphy "have been very solid." Weber's also been pleased with Stockard and David Sloan, an All-American guard in junior college.
One player who is continuing to fine-tune his game is Mawien.
"We need (to get) Mak going," Weber said. "He didn't get much done in that scrimmage, and he is our big guy with experience. So we need him to play well."
But even Weber conceded his evaluations fluctuate constantly.
"Some of it's about, 'Which day?' You talk to me one day, I'll say this guy, the next day, (I'll say another)," Weber said. "That's part of the early practices. Now we've got to get some consistency."