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K-State basketball soaks up practice time

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 5:52 p.m.

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FRicardo Glenn6-8Jr.8.67.7
FTorrey Craig6-6Jr.18.65.7
FJodd Maxey6-8Jr.4.93.9
GAdrian Rogers6-4So.12.02.7
GMario Blessing6-2So.3.72.1

S.C.-Upstate (3-4): Upstate is on a two-game winning streak with victories against Utah Valley and North Carolina-Asheville. The Spartans have played five of their seven games on the road. K-State is the first opponent from a major conference they have played.

PKansas State HtYrPtsReb
GRodney McGruder6-4Sr.11.04.5
FNino Williams6-11So.5.23.2
FJordan Henriquez6-11Sr.5.75.3
GWill Spradling6-2Jr.11.03.0
GAngel Rodriguez5-11So.8.73.0

Kansas State (5-1): K-State is coming off its first loss, by 14 points to No. 3 Michigan in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Wildcats weren’t ready to play a top-five opponent, and their offense struggled to get going. But they were executing well against lesser-known opponents in their first five games. They have had a week off to practice and are hoping to work out their problems at home.

S.C.-Upstate at Kansas State

When: 1:10 p.m. Sunday

Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

Records: USCU 3-4, KSU 5-1

Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM

TV: FSKC, Ch. 34

— With Kansas State basketball facing a unique schedule that features one game a week until mid-December, coach Bruce Weber came up with a clever slogan that he hopes will motivate the Wildcats in practice.

“I call it ‘Training Camp 2,’ ” Weber said. “This is an important time for us. We had 20 days before the exhibition games, then six games in two weeks. We didn’t really have time to do anything practice-wise.”

Now, they have all the time they need. The Wildcats will play their first game since falling to No. 3 Michigan on Nov. 23 in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. After Sunday’s game against South Carolina-Upstate, they are off for six days until their first true road game, at George Washington. Then it’s Gonzaga in Seattle a week later.

To help pass the time between games, Weber brought in officials and conducted a full-length scrimmage last week. Players also spent time studying Upstate, but their main focus has been improving, particularly on offense. Michigan’s tough defense exposed how far away the Wildcats are from mastering Weber’s motion offense.

Senior forward Rodney McGruder has struggled to score the way he did as a junior, senior forward Jordan Henriquez hasn’t shown the aggressiveness that made him a difference maker in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and the entire offense has looked out of sync.

Part of that is due to Weber using an 11-man rotation. With K-State winning the majority of its games by wide margins, 11 players are averaging more than 12 minutes. That will change as the schedule toughens, but Weber might not waste time limiting minutes. He wants to know who he can count on in big games. “Training Camp 2” will help him find out who those players are.

Weber is glad to have the extra time to prepare, even though he didn’t like the idea at the beginning of the season.

“It looked bad on paper, but with our situation we definitely need the practice time,” Weber said. “Now you can come in and evaluate yourself practice wise with three games in three weeks.”

Check Kellis Robinett’s K-State blog at blogs.kansas.com/kstated. Reach him at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com.

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