Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber heard objections from his assistants when he informed them he planned to play Green Bay this season.
The Phoenix, of the Horizon League, are coming off a season in which they reached the NCAA Tournament under second-year coach Linc Darner. They also play an up-tempo style filled with traps and presses that remind some of West Virginia. There are much easier nonconference opponents out there.
“Initially, when I did the game our coaches said, ‘Why are we playing them?’ ” Weber said Tuesday. “I thought about Texas and West Virginia. You want a game that is going to prepare you for what you see in the league.”
Green Bay will play a different style of basketball than K-State has seen thus far.
“They are going to push the ball and move it very quickly,” Weber said. “They are going to come down and take quick threes and go into dribble drives. We are going to have to be on horses right away. You make a basket, you are going to have to get back, because they are coming. They are going to bring it right at you.”
Weber hopes Green Bay will be a good nonconference opponent for K-State. He is confident the game falls at the right time.
The Wildcats are coming off their first loss of the season, a 69-68 loss to Maryland in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic. It was a heartbreaking defeat for players like senior D.J. Johnson, who openly discussed his desire to bring home a trophy and scored 26 points in the final to try and win one. It was the team’s best hope for a quality nonconference victory, and they let it slip away despite holding a lead in the final minute.
Now they return to a string of nonconference games that offer little buzz. K-State will next play Green Bay, Saint Louis, Prairie View A&M, Washington State, Colorado State and Gardner-Webb before beginning Big 12 games against Texas on Dec. 30. Losing any of those games would damage its postseason hopes. Players need to put the Maryland loss behind them.
“It’s a big challenge,” Johnson said. “You don’t want to get hung up off the weekend and the tournament. You can’t still be hungover off the loss.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett