MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State basketball is trying to get back to the basics.
By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
Coach Bruce Weber wants his players to focus on making free throws, converting layups and staying patient. Once those simple things start happening, he figures wins will follow.
That seems like as good a plan as any after what happened to the Wildcats in their opening game, a 60-58 loss to unheralded Northern Colorado in which nothing seemed to go right.
K-State shot 48.5 percent from the free-throw line, 33 percent from the field and 10.5 percent from three-point range. Add it all up and K-State was left with its first loss in a home opener since 1993.
“If we could have made a couple more layups and free throws, we probably win the game,” Weber said. “The whole thing and the key for our success is figuring out roles, leadership and toughness.”
K-State players feel the same way.
“Friday was an eye-opener,” senior Shane Southwell said. “It took us back to going through the little things in terms of discipline. Also, returning our offense into what it was last year. Practice has been more competitive than it was three or four days prior to that game.”
The Wildcats will have to quickly translate that progress to a live-game setting. The road doesn’t get any easier. Not only are the Wildcats dealing their own struggles, they now face Oral Roberts, one of the nation’s most consistent teams from outside the power conferences.
Oral Roberts started its season with a road victory at Tulsa and comes to Bramlage Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tipoff looking for another upset.
“They beat Tulsa and we did not anticipate that,” Weber said. “Tulsa was supposed to be better. Watching them on film, they are scary. They have a transfer from Western Illinois (Obi Emegano) and a transfer from Utah (Shawn Glover). They are probably their two best players. They have some quickness. Coach (Scott) Sutton teams are always going to play hard and compete.
“People probably laughed when I said that Northern Colorado was pretty good. I told our guys that Oral Roberts might be better and might be a little more athletic.”
Still, this is a game K-State needs to win if it wants to prove its opening loss was a wake-up call instead of the start to a long, disappointing season.
The Wildcats are staying optimistic, especially after Weber pointed to K-State’s football team as a sign of extra motivation. North Dakota State handed Bill Snyder’s team a loss in its first game, but it has bounced back with five wins and is now one of the hottest teams in the Big 12.
The basketball team is hoping to follow the same path. The journey will start with fundamentals.
“The energy in the locker room has been very positive,” freshman guard Wesley Iwundu said. “We are not looking back at it, we are looking ahead. We are ready to get this next game.”
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