MANHATTAN — One of the first things Kansas State sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez did when Bruce Weber was introduced as the Wildcats’ new basketball coach was watch all 32 games he played in last year.
He paid attention to every play and took detailed notes. When the video cram-session was over, he was left with two prevailing thoughts:
1. He was proud that he led the Wildcats with 101 assists.
2. He was ashamed that he committed a team-high 85 turnovers.
“I made a lot of turnovers in every game,” Rodriguez said. “I made a lot of immature plays, not being under control.”
He is trying to find a better balance this year.
“There were games that I played good,” Rodriguez said. “There were games that I played bad. But I got a little something out of every game.”
His challenge now is to continue making the highlight plays that earned him a starting job as a freshman without taking all the risks that led to mistakes.
Weber watched all his games, too, and noticed he was struggling with the transition in summer practices. So he provided Rodriguez with a teaching tool he hopes stays with him throughout the upcoming season. He drew an imaginary arc a few feet away from the basket and gave Rodriguez specific rules for what to do around it.
“When you get here you better have a dead layup, otherwise you better jump-stop and make a play,” Weber told him. “It’s good that he has confidence, but if he turns the ball over and keeps putting up tough shots it doesn’t help anything.”
Rodriguez took his advice to heart, and started playing better in practices.
“That line or area he told me about, I don’t think about it in the game, because then I would be a robot. I will just have it in mind to be in control,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not selfish. I care a lot about the team and my teammates being happy. If that’s what it takes for my team to be happy and us to win games it is what I’m going to do.”
Rodriguez’s assist-to-turnover ratio is certainly important. He figures to be K-State’s starting point guard again this season, and that means he will spend a lot of time with the ball in his hands. Associate head coach Chris Lowery broke down stats from last season, and noticed a trend. When Rodriguez dished out more assists than turnovers, K-State usually won. When he was a turnover machine, it tended to lose.
That provided motivation for summer workouts that he hopes to carry over into an exhibition game against Washburn at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m still going to be able to make the same plays I did last year,” Rodriguez said. “Just less turnovers.”