When a new coach arrives, few positions face more change than point guard. With that in mind, Angel Rodriguez had a little thinking to do when Frank Martin left for South Carolina and Bruce Weber was hired at Kansas State.
The sophomore point guard had a successful first season with the Wildcats, and became a starter as the season went along. But his up-tempo style, his aggressiveness and his tendency to create his own shot aren’t for everybody.
Some coaches like their point guard to shoot first. Others like their point guard to pass all the time.
Ultimately, Rodriguez decided his game would fit in – and maybe even thrive – with Weber’s coaching style. Two months after the coaching change, he has no regrets.
“I am loving everything about this new coaching staff,” Rodriguez said following a practice earlier this week. “They are nice people. I like their system. It just seems like we are going to enjoy playing for Coach Bruce and his people.”
Of course, it took him a week or so to come to that conclusion. While never publicly saying he was considering a transfer, the idea crossed his mind when he took a relaxing trip home to Puerto Rico and saw his family for the first time in six months.
“It was something that I had to think about and talk to my mom and my people about,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t just something I was going to decide right away. It did take me a little bit of time, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to make the best decision for myself and my family. Bruce was a nice person and he deserved a chance. That’s why we decided to stay.”
Rodriguez quickly warmed to Weber because of his success coaching guards over the years, and his friendly demeanor. Rodriguez said he also grew fond of K-State since committing to the team almost entirely because Martin was the coach out of high school.
“I was a starter in the Big 12 as a freshman,” Rodriguez said. “Not everyone has a chance to do that.”
With all but two scholarship players returning, Rodriguez will be part of a strong team next season. The idea of starting over somewhere else was anything but ideal.
“I told Frank, ‘You know I’ll never be mad at you. You have to do what you think is right for you and your family,’” Rodriguez said. “But then after I said that I had to think about myself. As much as I love him, I just didn’t want to sit out a year and everything was really looking good here. There was really no reason for me to leave.”
Rodriguez hasn’t had a lot of time to adjust to Weber’s coaching style yet. He suffered a tendon injury in his thumb while committing a foul late in a season-ending loss to Syracuse, and he had to undergo surgery. He has spent part of his offseason recovering from it, and says he still isn’t allowed to make passes in practice.
But he is getting healthier every day. And he can already tell he likes Weber’s offensive system.
“I think it will be a great system for me,” Rodriguez said. “That’s actually one of the reasons why I stayed. They are different type of coaches. Coach Frank was a little bit more aggressive. They both have great philosophies. They both have good things. But I think Coach Bruce will be, I guess, more flexible at times and let us play a little bit more.”
— Follow me on twitter @KellisRobinett E-mail comments, suggestions and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org