On multiple occasions this season, Bruce Weber has invoked the name of the legendary Allen Iverson. The references aren’t because Weber lauds the talent of the 6-foot guard, who starred at Georgetown before going on to the NBA and winning four scoring titles, an MVP award (2001) and making 11 All-Star Game appearances along with a slew of other accomplishments.
It’s because of Iverson’s infamous “practice” rant, when he rails against its relevance.
Weber couldn’t disagree more.
“Practice does matter. No matter what Iverson says, practice does matter, especially in college basketball,” Weber said on the Wildcats’ postgame radio show Wednesday following a 73-60 defeat to Bradley, its second loss in as many games. “We’ve got to get better in practice and we’ve got to get ready for Florida A&M.”
The Wildcats hope to get back on the winning track against the Rattlers, who enter Monday’s game against the Wildcats 0-5 this season. Weber said he “died” after the 63-59 loss to Pittsburgh last week, which came two days before the setback to Bradley.
“I didn’t sleep much. It was like a hangover,” Weber said. “It hurt. I tried, but I didn’t. I tried not to let it affect the team. I thought we did a good job as a staff to get them ready. I don’t think we weren’t ready, but they were more ready.”
That preparedness, Weber said, came from the way Bradley lost its previous game before taking on K-State, when Northwestern smacked the Braves 78-51. The readiness also stemmed from the opportunity K-State afforded it.
“I’ve told them before, I was at SIU,” said Weber, referring to his time as Southern Illinois’ head coach from 1998 to 2003. “When you’re in the (Missouri) Valley (Conference) and you get these opportunities, it’s so important, so important. ... The kids raise their game up. I don’t know why they played so bad against Northwestern, but maybe they needed to be embarrassed to take a step. They did it tonight, and now we’ve got to do it.”
And it all starts with practice.
“Monday means nothing,” Weber said, “if we don’t go back to practice and get better.”