MANHATTAN, Kan. — Adrian Diaz started playing basketball against his older brother at age 4, so the Kansas State sophomore forward won’t feel strange guarding him at 1 p.m. Sunday when the Wildcats take on North Florida at Bramlage Coliseum.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
With their father looking on, they used to trade baskets in the driveway of their Miami home until darkness forced them to stop. They went on to become high school teammates and close friends until Andy, a 6-foot-7 junior, moved on to North Florida and Diaz, a 6-11 sophomore, landed at K-State. But their rivalry is about to return.
“I feel more confident this year,” Adrian Diaz said. “I feel like my brother has gotten a lot better, but I feel like I have gotten a lot better, too. I am going to have bragging rights in the house again.”
He earned the right to boast about his skills last year when K-State beat North Florida 79-68 in overtime. Though the game was closer than Wildcats fans wanted, with Jimmy Williams hitting a layup at the buzzer to force overtime, Adrian outplayed his brother statistically. While Andy scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds, Adrian finished with eight points and four rebounds.
That’s something he brings up every time the family gets together.
“If we are at home together I bring it up,” Adrian Diaz said. “Last time I saw him I said, ‘Hey, I beat you.’”
He will need to play better than he has in his first three games to continue bragging for another year. Though the Wildcats are heavily favored and haven’t been challenged, Adrian Diaz hasn’t scored more than four points in a game this season.
He looked good during exhibition games, and might return to the starting lineup Sunday with Nino Williams still recovering from a hard fall against Alabama-Huntsville. Add in the motivation that comes from playing against his brother, and K-State coach Bruce Weber expects Diaz to be ready.
“It’s definitely been talked about since it popped up on the schedule,” Weber said. “They had to find a way to win in overtime last year. That means you’ve got a tough opponent that you’ve got to be prepared for. It really helps with everybody’s focus. Yes, you’ve got the family rivalry and all that but it’s about our team and continuing to win and getting some consistency. That is the most important focus.”
Still, it should be fun to watch the Diaz brothers reunite.
“It’s going to feel great,” Adrian Diaz said. “He taught me everything I needed to know, and it is going to be great to go against him.”
To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/KellisRobinett.