Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas State started its 2013 campaign with a lot of freshmen expected to help carry the team. Yet the Wildcat upperclassmen – those players with experience we all assumed would carry the Wildcats through the early throes of the nonconference season – were largely left wanting. Granted, Bruce Weber has never been comfortable using Will Spradling as the team’s point guard. Yet tipping off the season against Northern Colorado, my 6’1″ frame could have started the game and the nation would have assumed a win against the the Northern Colorado Bears.
Northern Colorado should have allowed K-State to take this game, shooting just .404 from the field and only .231 from beyond the arc. Yet the Wildcats struggled even more, shooting only .339 on the night and just a grizzly .105 from three point range. That’s right, out of 19 shots, K-State connected on just two attempts.
Freshman Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats with 14 points and 10 rebounds, with the freshman forward recording the best night of either team despite playing just 20 minutes off the bench. However, he was left in sore need of reinforcement. Shane Southwell and Will Spradling, the elder sparpshooters expected to carry the team this year, hit just four of 22 shoots as both seniors hit just two shots despite being expected to carry the team early in the year. Each hit 2/11 shots, with Spradling collecting eight points on the night while Southwell came off the bench to contribute seven points.
In all, Kansas State led in several categories, including steals (7-6), assists (15-12), blocks (3-0), turnovers (9-15), and personal fouls (22-28). However, the Wildcats were not able to escape a 49-40 demolition on the boards as Northern Colorado generated numerous turnovers on defense.
In the end, only one starter shot at least 50 percent. D.J. Johnson – a forward many were hoping to step up after a highly erratic 2012 season – hit four of eight field goals. Johnson only hit four of nine field goals, however, and finished with 12 points. He would finish with the most points of any starter. Coming off the bench, Wesley Iwundu led the team with 14 points on five-of-six shooting to potentially work his way into the starting line-up going forward. Iwundu also had 10 rebounds while showing solid athleticism to go along with two assists, one steal, and two fouls on the night.
The final stat line of the night was free throw shooting. Northern Colorado was unimpressive, hitting just 60 percent of its attempts (15/25). However, the Wildcats were even worse, connecting on just 48.5 from the charity stripe (16-33). Just a couple more of those attempts, and the outcome of this match flows much differently…