Kansas State University

Walk-on Brian Rohleder could be key for Kansas State against Baylor

ansas City Star

Kansas State’s Brian Rohleder and Texas Tech’s Devaugntah Williams battled for a loose ball during a Feb. 4 game.
Kansas State’s Brian Rohleder and Texas Tech’s Devaugntah Williams battled for a loose ball during a Feb. 4 game. The Associated Press

Don’t be surprised if Brian Rohleder is part of Kansas State’s starting lineup against Baylor.

Rohleder, a junior walk-on and former Wichita Bishop Carroll standout, became an indispensable member of the Wildcats’ playing rotation during their last game against TCU. Following a punchless first half in which they scored 15 points and trailed by 20, coach Bruce Weber inserted Rohleder and his effort was impossible to miss.

“He is a veteran,” Weber said. “This is his third year, so he has been through it. He appreciates it and his dad is a coach … It would be great if he was a better shooter and all that, but he plays the game the way you want him to. He is a big key.”

Added senior forward Nino Williams: “He sparked us and we played with a lot of energy in the second half.

It was not enough to spark K-State to a comeback victory, but he was part of a 13-2 run that kept things interesting. Weber left Rohleder on the court for 15 minutes, using a timeout at one point specifically to let him catch his breath. Weber deemed Thomas Gipson, Tre Harris, Jevon Thomas, Williams and Rohleder as his hardest workers and made few substitutions.

When the game was over, Weber admitted, “I just want guys that care.”

Rohleder definitely cares.

“That’s my role,” Rohleder said. “I am an energy guy. I will do whatever it takes to help the team out — get rebounds, get stops on defense, stuff like that. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win.”

He thinks a boost of energy and defense, his specialty, can help.

“Obviously, something has got to change,” Rohleder said. “Coach was definitely trying to put guys in he knew were going to play hard.”

Rohleder has played sparingly throughout his time at K-State, logging one start and rarely seeing meaningful action. His career totals are four points and 15 rebounds. Those could both improve dramatically as the season comes to a close.

Weber has praised Rohleder’s work ethic all season, continually saying he needed to find more opportunities to play him. Weber now seems committed to that idea.

Rohleder is ready for anything.

“I feel like I did my best and I did what I could to help the team win and I am going to play hard,” Rohleder said. “If the coaches want to continue to use me then that is what he decides to do. At this point in the season I hope I can continue to do what I did (at TCU) and help our team.”

To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to krobinett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.

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