Bruce Weber trusts Kansas State’s top seven basketball players. The rest of the roster? Not so much.
The Wildcats have established a dependable rotation of seven players in their first eight games. Starters Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown, Wesley Iwundu, Dean Wade and D.J. Johnson have combined to average 54.9 points with top reserves Xavier Sneed and Carlbe Ervin providing 14.3 more.
Weber is pleased with that production, but he would be happier if the the other eight players on K-State’s bench could give more than the 9.5 points they have combined to average.
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“You are going to get in foul trouble and we have got to get eight and nine (players in the rotation),” Weber said. “ That is what I want. I am happy with seven. If we can get eight or nine ... Ten would be really great.”
The top understudies on K-State’s bench will likely get opportunities to prove themselves as the nonconference season comes to a close. The Wildcats will be favored in their next game against Prairie View A&M on Tuesday at Bramlage Coliseum. Same with a Saturday neutral-court game against Washington State in Kansas City and another home game against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 21. Weber wants his playing rotation to grow, and now is the time for that to happen.
Freshman forwards Isaiah Maurice and Dante Williams should get the longest looks. Maurice, a 6-foot-10 big man, could add scoring versatility to the offense K-State wouldn’t otherwise have. Williams, a 7-foot shot blocker, can provide defense.
Senior walk-on Austin Budke could also make a push for increased playing time behind K-State’s top two forwards.
But Weber also wants to take a look at freshman guard Brian Patrick.
“I think after Christmas he will slowly but surely click in,” Weber said. “He can shoot the ball and teams will play zone. The game has just moved fast for him with defensive concepts.”
The game may begin slowing down for a number of K-State reserves this month. Not only does K-State face a favorable schedule, the team will benefit from increased practice time. The Wildcats had a hectic November schedule that was heavy on games. That helped Weber bring along a solid rotation of seven players. Now, he would like to add to it.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett