When Kansas State basketball coaches split up the roster for scrimmages, they have to be careful about where they place Barry Brown.
His team always seems to win.
“He has been the most consistent guy, day in and day out,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said Thursday. “He has won the most.”
Those words feel like validation for Brown, a sophomore guard who placed consistency atop his list of offseason goals.
Brown was erratic as a freshman. At times, he played so well he appeared to be the best guard on the team. At others, he played so poorly his impact on games was difficult to see. Brown averaged 14.9 points in his nine best Big 12 games, but that production dropped to 6.1 in his worst nine conference games.
He wants more as a sophomore.
“I had a lot of ups and downs last year,” Brown said, “not only with scoring, but just playing well. I would have two or three good games in a row and then have a downfall. I am really focusing on consistency, and trying to maintain a good level of play.”
Brown averaged a team-high 16 points in double-digit exhibition wins over Pittsburg State and Washburn, helping the Wildcats at both guard positions along the way.
He was also one of K-State’s top contributors during its summer tour of Europe, scoring as many as 17 points in games against foreign competition.
Brown has improved his game in several areas, the most noticeable of which is stamina. He has added considerable muscle to his body and says he is in the best shape of his life. His bench press has risen from 205 pounds to 250 in a matter of months.
A year ago, Brown saw his minutes climb as the season progressed. With point guard Kamau Stokes sidelined by injury, Brown saw 30-plus minutes in nine of K-State’s final 11 games. He came to K-State expecting to play shooting guard, but had to handle the ball and direct offense in place of Stokes.
That extra work took a toll.
“He got a little bit wiped out and tired,” Weber said. “Now he has recouped and understands what it is about. His body is in better shape. He is stronger and he has better feel of the game. He has really worked at it.”
How much will it pay off this season? We are about to find out. K-State begins its basketball season at 8 p.m. on Friday against Western Illinois.
“I think I am off to a good start, but it has nothing to do with the season. It is just exhibition,” Brown said. “I am trying to stay level headed and keep preparing for the season.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Western Illinois at Kansas State
- When: 8 p.m. Friday
- Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan
- Records: WIU 0-0, KSU 0-0
- Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM, 102.5-FM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
- TV: FSKC
Western Illinois at Kansas State
Western Illinois (0-0): The Fighting Leathernecks are coming off a disappointing 10-17 season, so they should be eager to get off to a fresh start against Kansas State. They also won’t be strangers to a power-conference road environment. Western Illinois won at Wisconsin last season 69-67. Covington makes this team go. He averaged nearly 18 points last season.
Kansas State (0-0): The Wildcats are hoping to repeat the nonconference success they had last season, going 11-2 in games outside the Big 12. K-State won both of its exhibition games by double digits, but could have played better in the second half of both victories. Point guard Kamau Stokes will play in his first regular season game since going down with a knee injury midway through last season.