November 8, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
The reigning 2012-13 Big 12 Champions will begin a new era of K-State basketball tonight in Bramlage Coliseum.
The first competition of the 2013-14 regular season, tonight's game will tip off at 8 p.m., as the Wildcats are set to face Northern Colorado.
"They are a great shooting team, and they have somebody inside that will be able to challenge us a little bit," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said about Northern Colorado. "It will be a good experience for us. I wish it was a little later, but we have to deal with it. We are playing at home and they are not, so we just have to take advantage of that. Hopefully we will have a great crowd."
This year's roster, made up of five freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and four seniors, will look to versatile senior Shane Southwell, senior point guard Will Spradling and junior forward Thomas Gipson for leadership.
Though three freshmen - Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson - shined in last week's exhibition play, Weber said it's going to take a consistent effort from his upperclassmen if the team hopes to continue success.
"If the freshmen carry us, I'll be surprised. One of the words I put up today is consistency," Weber said. "We need consistency from the older guys and they may not shoot perfect every game but they have to be part of it."
Spradling, taking over the role of the team's point guard, said this year's young squad, though they're excited to get on the court, is still working to get to know each other on the court.
"We are still trying to figure out our roles as a team," Spradling said. "During the course of the (exhibition) game, the freshmen, for most of them, that was their first game. I mean under the lights (the game) is a lot different."
The Wildcats look ahead to the upcoming season that includes a total of eight home games, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and a December matchup against Gonzaga at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.
"We have three games in a nine-day period and then we go to Puerto Rico and we have three more games in a short period," Weber said, "so we will find a lot out about everyone in those couple of weeks."
For highlights of the Wildcats' exhibition against Pittsburg State, click here.
PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
The dynamic trio of freshmen Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson showed what they were made of in K-State's exhibition game against Pittsburg State on Nov. 1, scoring a combined 38 in its 75-54 win. Johnson recorded a team-high 13 points, shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, while Foster and Iwundu put away 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Johnson, a 6-foot-1 guard from Ashburn Va., played at Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro, Md., his senior season where he helped the Crusaders to a 26-10 overall record. As a senior, he averaged 17.9 points and 2.3 rebounds while also sinking 71 3-pointers.
Foster, a 6-foot-3 point guard travels to Manhattan from Wichita Falls, Texas, where he led Hirschi High School on almost every chart, averaging 27.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks per game his senior season.
Iwundu, a 6-foot-6 forward from Houston, Texas, was named to the Class 5A All-State team and District MVP his senior year at Westfield High School. Iwundu led the Mustangs to a 26-11 season and averaged 16.3 points per game.
"I'm really excited. They're a really good team, so I'm ready to go out there and show what I've got," Foster said about tonight's game. "I think we played pretty good as freshmen (against Pittsburg State) but we still have a lot of improvement to come."
NONCONFERENCE GAMES TO KEEP AN EYE ON
THE PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF
The Wildcats take on Charlotte in first game the three-game tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The game is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. (CT) on Thursday, Nov. 21, and will be aired on ESPNU. The following day, K-State will take on either Georgetown or Northeastern, depending on how each team fares in its first game, and the tournament's championship game will take place on Sunday, Nov. 24. Also competing in the tournament is No. 7/9 Michigan, No. 14/15 Virginia Commonwealth, Long Beach State and Florida State.
BIG 12-SEC CHALLENGE
K-STATE VS. OLE MISS
Last year, Ole Miss finished the season 27-9 and 12-6 in the SEC and, after knocking Wisconsin out of the NCAA Tournament, the Rebels' season came to an end after falling 76-74 to La Salle. The Rebels will travel to Bramlage Coliseum on Thursday, Dec. 5, for an 8 p.m., matchup against K-State. The game will be aired on ESPN2
WICHITA WILDCAT CLASSIC
K-STATE VS. GONZAGA
K-State is set to take on No. 15 Gonzaga on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2:30 p.m., at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan. Gonzaga finished the 2012-13 season with a 26-7 record and 13-3 in the West Coast Conference. After beating Southern University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Zags season came to an end after losing to Wichita State, 76-70, in the third round. The game will be aired on ESPN2.
BACON PROMOTION RECEIVES NATIONAL ATTENTION
It's a media craze - Sports Center is talking about it, NPR is talking about it, social media nation-wide is talking about it and it even made mention on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday morning.
"What is it?" You may ask.
It's bacon - a lot of it, to be exact.
K-State women's basketball is taking on Tennessee State tonight at 5:45 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum and with doors opening at 4:45 p.m., K-State students will receive free bacon while supplies last. What started as 100 pounds of the breakfast favorite has grown to now 300 pounds that will be cooked and handed out to students in 'paper boats.'
"I just heard about it. I can say that I was relatively, completely unaware until I saw the email," K-State women's basketball head coach Deb Patterson laughed about the promotion, "but (it's great) for all those people that need a little extra breakfast food or love BLTs, one of my personal favorites. That's a great promotion."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.