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Weber wants K-State veterans to shoulder basketball load

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Northern Colorado at Kansas State

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan

TV: FSKC, Ch. 34

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

P.N. ColoradoHt.Yr.Pt.Rb.
FDerrick Barden6-5Sr.13.58.8
FTim Huskisson6-5Jr.7.63.7
FConnor Osborne6-9Sr.6.14.8
GTevin Srihovec6-2Jr.11.93.2
GTate Unruh6-4Sr.13.54.1
FNino Williams6-5Jr.4.23.3
FD.J. Johnson6-9So.2.32.5
GWill Spradling6-2Sr.7.42.6
GMarcus Foster6-2Fr.0.00.0
GShane Southwell6-7Sr.8.43.8

Northern Colorado: The Bears return the bulk of a team that won 13 games a season ago. Its starting lineup is filled entirely of juniors and seniors. Northern Colorado reached the NCAA Tournament in coach B.J. Hill’s first year, but has struggled to compete in the Big 12 in his past two. It returns 76 percent of its scoring and 83 percent of its rebounding from last year’s team.

Kansas State: The Wildcats enter the season in better health than they did for last week’s exhibition game, but guard Omari Lawrence injured his ankle on Wednesday and may be a game-time decision. It is also uncertain whether Thomas Gipson, a returning starter, will suit up. He did not attend the exhibition game, and Bruce Weber has described his status as “day-to-day.” He has practiced all week, but Weber hasn’t said if he will be able to play. Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson hope to continue the strong play they showed in the exhibition game. Southwell and Spradling, who were both quiet, are looking to do more.

— Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber was pleased when Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson play well in the team’s lone exhibition game last week, but he wasn’t satisfied.

If anything, Weber had bittersweet emotions about the Wildcats’ final preseason tuneup.

Will Spradling, a senior guard, went scoreless and only attempted four shots. Shane Southwell, a senior swingman, missed 9 of 15 shots and never got into a rhythm. As a team, K-State made less than 37 percent of its shots. Regardless of what he received from his rookies, he expected more from K-State’s veterans.

“Obviously, if the freshmen can carry us, I will be surprised,” Weber said. “One of the words I put up today is consistency. We need consistency from the older guys. They may not shoot perfect every game, but they have to be part of it. When Will plays the point, he did not get a lot of looks, if you go back to last year, because he had to work so hard to get us into our offense and we just were not patient enough to give it back to him.

“We will mix in Nigel if he keeps doing well and try to shift Will to the two. We are just trying to get all of them to be patient so we can maybe get some better looks down the road. We cannot shoot 36 percent and expect to be a consistent team.”

The Wildcats will begin searching for consistency at 8 p.m. on Friday, when the open the regular season against Northern Colorado at Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State will be expected to win, but Northern Colorado has an experienced starting five and a skilled big man in 6-foot-9 Connor Osborne. So it won’t be a cupcake game, especially with both teams adjusting to new officiating priorities that led to numerous fouls in exhibition games.

Foster isn’t worried about that, though. His main concern is continuing to score and helping his teammates become more comfortable when they are on the floor.

“I think we are all still messing around with things, and we are still trying to find out what our roles are,” Foster said. “We have some defensive stoppers, some X-factors for us, and we still need some rebounders. We are just coming together as a team right now.”

Spradling and Southwell can speed up that process by scoring effectively against Northern Colorado. But their main priority might be playing smarter.

“I got moved to point so I expected not to get as many shots as Marcus and Shane,” Spradling said. “Marcus is a scorer and so is Shane. I did expect to have more shots but not too many shots.”

Weber has confidence in both his freshmen and his seniors. Once they start playing together, he thinks good results will follow.

“If you add consistency and experience together, you are going to have success,” Weber said. “That is what we will hopefully develop as we go on. I hope we have a little bit of a foundation. We have not even started building the house yet and we have a long ways to go.”

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