Wednesday marked Day 15 of the preseason for Kansas State’s men’s basketball team. Bruce Weber, entering his eighth season as head coach, couldn’t be happier with what he’s seen thus far. That’s because, out of those 15 days, there was only one where he felt “really disappointed” in the energy players displayed at practice.
“But that’s expected,” Weber said Wednesday at the team’s media day. “That’s everybody, and it’s a long stretch.”
Now, he said, is the most difficult part of the preseason.
“The first 10 (days), you’re excited to get going,” Weber said. “Then it’s kind of ‘the dog days’ in the middle, and then obviously you get two exhibitions and a game right around the corner. So it helps you kind of get refreshed and ready for that.”
Following the departures of last season’s highly decorated senior trio — guards Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes along with forward Dean Wade — Weber said he was pleased the upperclassmen on this year’s roster have stepped up to fill the void.
“I really believe that the older guys have set a great example, good leadership and help create a culture of effort,” Weber said, “and they’ve had those other guys playing their butts off, which is really important for continuing to make progress and keep the culture that we’ve developed.”
Even so, Weber conceded that every team deals with ups and downs to a degree — “We have really good days, and we have some really bad days,” Weber said — but he continues to emphasize consistency and dependability. Those weren’t issues the Wildcats had to worry about much last season.
“We knew last year the guys we had back and who was going to be there every day, and that’s what you really talked about: consistency, efficiency, and dependability with those guys,” he said, before pointing out, without directly naming forwards Xavier Sneed or Makol Mawien or guard Cartier Diarra, that this team still has some seasoned veterans, too. “You’ve got experienced guys back who have played, five guys who played good minutes in the Elite Eight and (were part of) a Big 12 championship team.”
Now, the key is for those returning players to find their niche.
“As everyone knows, their roles are different,” Weber said, “and now, can they be consistent and can they be dependable? That’s the key, I think, for our season.”