What a sight to behold last Friday night as the K-State men’s basketball team hung the Big12 Championship banner from the rafters. 36 years is a long time wait! Just as amazing is the incredible coaching effort by first year head coach Bruce Weber and his staff.
Image via K-State Sports
So what’s in the cards this year for the Wildcat team? I broke down our season into three critical points.
#1 Who will step up?
Stud Rodney McGruder, gone. Angel Rodriguez, transferred.
The #1 question that will be answered as the season progresses this year is who will step up and be the leader? Will the Seniors Will Spradling, Shane Southwell and Omari Lawrence take the reigns? K-State has plenty of talented new faces on the roster this season as well. While some of the newcomers may be able to make an impact during the game, it’s going to take one or two clear-cut leaders on the team to make this season a success.
K-State’s schedule is shaping up to be very similar to the past few seasons. To start, K-State opens with home games against Pitt St., Northern Colorado, Oral Roberts and Long Beach State. This will likely be a time for the incoming recruits to see the floor and gain some experience. The Cats won’t get their first test against a national powerhouse until the Puerto Rico tournament in late November, where they could face Georgetown. The only other “underlined” game for non-conference is a meeting with Ole Miss in early December.
The road is likely going to get rockier for K-State as they head into Big12 play at the beginning of January. The Wildcats are pre-season selected to finish 5th in the Big12, behind KU, Oklahoma St, Baylor and Iowa State. As always, the Big12 will be stacked with tough defenses, and the fate of K-State’s season could come down to how we grind out the close games.
Speaking of close games, the incoming Freshman and transfer players are going to need to toughen up quickly to learn to compete in the Big12. K-State has established tough play over the last 5 years with Coach Huggins and Coach Martin teaching that very quality on a daily basis. Coach Weber did a great job carrying on that toughness last season, which helped K-State achieve their conference championship.
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The only hiccup with toughness this year may be the way that the game is called by the referees. Rumor has it that the NCAA is trying to get the ‘roughness’ under control in college basketball and will be calling the games extremely tight this year. This could mean players fouling out early, an outrageous amount of free throw attempts and a slower pace of play. If this turns out to be the case, K-State is going to need to adapt their toughness to still play aggressively without getting into foul trouble.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how the season plays out. One thing is for sure, the expectations from here on out are nothing less than another conference championship!