MANHATTAN — 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.”