Kansas State is placing a special emphasis on home games this season.
Protecting home court is important for every college basketball team, but it is a top priority for the Wildcats (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) as they attempt to build on a 91-75 road victory over Iowa State.
“We talked about home floor all year, since we played Missouri State in exhibition,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “You don’t do it just because of the crowd; you do it by how you play and your determination. Defense, sharing the basketball, confidence, poise — those are the things that really make a difference. We are one up on a lot of people, because (we) got a road win. Now, can we maintain at home? That is the big thing.”
It won’t be easy. K-State was unable to string together many Big 12 wins last season, because it continually stumbled at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats put themselves in position for a high conference finish by winning four road games, but finished 8-10 with five home losses.
K-State oddly beat Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU on the road, yet lost to all three at Bramlage Coliseum.
It is hoping for more consistency this time around.
With that in mind, the Wildcats couldn’t enjoy their victory at Iowa State very long. As soon as they returned home from Hilton Coliseum, they turned their focus to No. 7 West Virginia.
K-State will host the Mountaineers at 4 p.m. on Monday at Bramlage Coliseum in a game that will be every bit as important as the conference opener.
“We are veterans on this team and expect to do what we did (Friday) every night,” K-State point guard Kamau Stokes said. “You know, come out and play how we know how to play.”
Playing at home should be an advantage for the Wildcats, as the Mountaineers have been on the road since Thursday. Back-to-back road games are always difficult for them, because Morgantown, W.V. is located so far from every other Big 12 town. West Virginia defeated Oklahoma State 85-79 at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Friday and traveled straight to Manhattan afterward.
Bob Huggins won’t fly players home until Monday night, after five consecutive days on the road.
Still, the Wildcats know they will face a difficult challenge. Weber wishes he had more time to prepare his team for West Virginia’s full-court defense, dubbed Press Virginia.
“It’s tough, there is no doubt,” Weber said. “From what I have watched … They are pressing, but not quite as much as they have done … I didn’t tell (our players), but at one of the practices we went against press. I said, ‘Iowa State presses.’ We have got to be ready and try to get in as much prep as possible.”
K-State will lean on home court as an advantage. The Wildcats are off to a 7-0 start at Bramlage Coliseum, but the Mountaineers are by far the best team they have played in Manhattan.
That will make for a difficult game, but it is one K-State expects to win. Protecting home court is of the utmost importance for this team.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett