November 20, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
K-State men's basketball (2-1) took off from Manhattan, Kan., for the beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday afternoon and is ready compete in the Puerto Rico Tipoff.
Playing three games in four days, the Wildcats will take on the Charlotte 49ers in the first game of the tournament tipping off at 9:30 a.m. (CT) tomorrow morning and airing on ESPNU.
"It's a whole different element," Weber said about the upcoming travel and tournament. "You're talking about an island, beaches, casino, everything that you're throwing into (the trip), and my message in the locker room is, 'This is about basketball.' We all had a tough loss against Northern Colorado. We've got to make up for it and get a win. Charlotte is very tough, and they're going to test us."
The 49ers (2-1) head to Puerto Rico coming off of an 83-69 win over Elon on Friday, Nov. 15. Four players on Charlotte's roster are averaging points in the double-digits, led by sophomore guard Shawn Lester averaging 17.7 points per game and junior guard Pierria Henry who is averaging 17.0 points per game.
Though he said he's still in the process of checking out how the Wildcats compete, Charlotte head coach Alan Major is no stranger to the coaching style of Weber.
"I worked for Bruce Weber for one year at Southern Illinois (1998-99), and was actually a manager at Purdue (1992) while Bruce was an assistant coach," Major said via conference call, "so I've known Bruce a long, line time. Regardless of his personnel, I can tell you right now it's going to be a team that plays very tough man-to-man defense, they're going to run their motion game really well, they're going to have a balanced lineup where they're probably not leaning on one guy to do the damage, and they're going to be well coached. They're going to be sound fundamentally on both ends of the court."
So far this season, the Wildcats have been anchored by freshman Marcus Foster. Foster has been turning heads after back-to-back games as the team's leading scorer. Against Oral Roberts, Foster took off by totaling 25 points and grabbing three rebounds, while on Sunday afternoon against Long Beach State he scored 17 points after going 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc.
Foster's 42 combined points against Oral Roberts and Long Beach State were the most in back-to-back games by a true freshman since Michael Beasley had 46 against USC and Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
A new experience, this week will mark Foster and freshmen Wesley Iwundu, Jack Karapatyan and Nigel Johnson's first time playing college ball on the road.
"I am very excited to travel to Puerto Rico. It is kind of like my first away game," Foster said. "We are going to be playing some very good talent, so we'll see what kind of team we are and what we are made of."
For additional information on the tournament, click here.