Spradling is making shots and playing his best basketball in a Kansas State uniform after a mediocre (at best) start to the season. Southwell is committing fouls, bricking shots and losing turnovers like a freshman after a promising start to the year.
They have effectively switched places.
Check out the stats.
Will Spradling (first 18 games): 6.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists.
Shane Southwell (first 20 games): 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.15 assists.
Will Spradling (last six games): 11.67 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists.
Shane Southwell (last four games): 4 points, 3.75 rebounds, 2.75 assists.
Perhaps that is why K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber had this to say earlier this week when he was asked a question about how much Spradling’s progression has helped the Wildcats:
“Now if we can get Shane going,” Weber said. “That would be really nice to have everyone going.”
Indeed. K-State’s offense has looked good at times since Spradling nearly doubled his scoring. But it hasn’t spiked, because Southwell has failed to maintain his offensive production.
The reasons for Southwell’s struggles are complex. Weber and teammates suggest he is forcing the issue and trying to do too much when he should be letting the game come to him. He is K-State’s top passer and an effective rebounder. Simply focusing on those areas could help the team.
But the most important issue seems to be his playing time. He regularly played 30-plus minutes during his first 20 games. He hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in his last four games, and his minutes have dwindled from 25 to 21 to 19 in his last three games.
Fouls have been an issue. He has a bad habit of committing two fouls early in the first half and spending long periods of time on the bench. Late turnovers, while attempting to bounce the ball off a defender’s ankle while being trapped, are also a concern.
Of course, he is taking bad shots, too. He hasn’t shot better than 40 percent or made more than two shots in a game during his slump.
If he stays in this funk much longer, an argument could be made for someone else replacing him in the starting lineup. Heck, D.J. Johnson, Nino Williams and Omari Lawrence all looked good against Kansas. But The law of averages suggests Southwell’s slump won’t last much longer. He is still averaging more than 10 points on the season. He is too good a player to end his K-State career on a low note.
The Wildcats hope a turnaround occurs sooner than later. If Spradling and Southwell play well at the same time, K-State will benefit.