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Under Weber’s wing, K-State beats Washburn 81-61

Updated: 2012-10-31T15:37:36Z

By KELLIS ROBINETT

The Kansas City Star

— Bruce Weber hopes they are all this easy.

In his first exhibition game at Bramlage Coliseum, which Kansas State won 81-61 over Washburn on Tuesday, the Wildcats’ new basketball coach was able to experiment with lineups, try out plays and teach his motion offense during every timeout.

That’s the freedom you have when your team races to a 22-2 lead.

“Overall you are pleased, because you don’t know in this first game how the guys are going to react, ” Weber said. “I thought they came ready to play. That’s your first challenge … Everybody got pretty good minutes, we still won by 20 … It was pretty nice, to be honest.”

Behind 14 points from Nino Williams, 13 points from Jordan Henriquez and 10 points from Rodney McGruder and DJ Johnson, K-State dominated the Ichabods from start to finish.

Williams was the star on offense, making six of eight shots and snaring nine rebounds. The sophomore forward rarely played under former coach Frank Martin, but he has clearly matured under Weber.

“I was just playing hard,” Williams said. “I got open a couple times and knocked down a couple shots, but I wasn’t looking for shots. I was just playing hard.”

K-State’s starting lineup was Will Spradling, Diaz, Henriquez, McGruder and Angel Rodriguez. Along with Williams, they provided most of the highlights.

On offense, Henriquez came through with the first dunk of the season. On defense, Rodriguez led the way by taking a charge on Washburn’s first possession, and diving for a loose ball that looked well out of reach while playing through a painful blister on his foot. Though Diaz, Henriquez and Omari Lawrence all had two blocks apiece.

Weber said K-State’s starting lineup and playing rotation will fluctuate in the coming weeks. But don’t be surprised if Diaz and Henriquez stay together inside. Their height gave the Wildcats a big advantage over Washburn inside.

“Weber has got them playing very hard,” Washburn coach Bob Chipman said. “I’m impressed. I wanted us to play harder than them. It didn’t happen.”

Perhaps the most intriguing development of the night came from sophomore forward Thomas Gipson, who didn’t come off the bench until 6:50 remained in the second half.

Gipson started 22 games last year, averaging seven points and 4.7 rebounds. But Weber is limiting his playing time until he proves himself in practice.

“He has to take care of business every day,” Weber said. “Be consistent on the court, off the court. When you do that you will get consistent minutes.”

They won’t all be this easy, of course, but beating Washburn by a wide margin will certainly help the Wildcats before they take on Emporia State in another exhibition on Sunday and then begin the regular season on Nov. 9.

“We hit them by surprise, to be honest, which is what you hope to do at home,” Weber said. “The place was pretty loud. It was half full, so I can imagine what it’s like when it gets rocking.”

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