We knew the start of the basketball season would be a rough one for Bruce Weber’s second year in Manhattan. There were few experienced players ready to step in to replace the program’s personnel losses (particularly at guard), and the incoming freshman class was raw. However, a 3-3 start to a relatively easy nonconference schedule has left even the squad’s doubters baffled. And right now, the best thing for this team is the opportunity to regroup over Thanksgiving and come back with a rejuvenated approach to the season.
Part of the issue is lack of knowledge on the side of the court – it took Weber a lot of experimentation early on last season before he settled on the rotation that clicked once conference play started and led the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 title. Faced with inexperience and unknown commodities, 2013 has seen the same approach; a player can start one night, and start on the bench the next. The transition from Angel Rodriguez to Will Spradling at point guard has been particularly difficult (and it’s shown in his shooting performance).
K-State averages 62.7 points per game, which leaves it at 326th nationally. Of course this has never been a particularly high scoring team, put pace shouldn’t impact field goal percentage this much, where the Wildcats are only shooting 40.7 percent and ranked 293rd. In it’s only game against a likely NCAA invitee – Georgetown (although Charlotte is looking solid too) – the Wildcats were blown out 90-63 down in Puerto Rico (they did recover to hold Long Beach State to just 38 points in the last-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off).
For all intents and purposes, November is behind us. The team doesn’t take the court again until December. On December first K-State takes on Central Arkansas, which currently sits at 1-3. That should be the perfect opportunity to build some confidence. Nine players are averaging over ten minutes per game. That number will be whittled down as Weber settles on 6-7 players to feature this season. Additionally, Thomas Gipson has looked good after coming back from injury, although his time has been limited while he attempts to catch up with his conditioning.
Following the game against Central Arkansas the Wildcats have an interesting tilt against Ole Miss, who has started 3-0. Three games later they face #11 Gonzaga in Wichita. There’s potential for great things on this team. Hopefully it can use the break to clear the young players’ minds and get ready for the second half of the nonconference slate before league play begins. Until, everyone enjoy some turkey and try not to take down too much wine before dinner’s over.