Maturity Key for K-State Men's Basketball
Riding a two-game winning streak, which includes an upset win over No. 16/18 Oklahoma on the road last Saturday, the Wildcats will look to stay focused as they continue through conference play.
"The big word I've used all along is maturity," said head coach Bruce Weber when asked about his team's ability to bounce back from a three-game losing skid earlier this month. "Being mature and having a good team mindset, I think all of that is important. If that continues to make improvement, we've shown we can compete with anybody, so we just have to see if we can have some consistency now."
The turning point to the season was K-State's 61-47 loss at Oklahoma State on January 3, sophomore guard Marcus Foster explained. In that game, the Wildcats gave up a halftime lead and Foster, who was benched most of the game, didn't score.
That performance in Stillwater, Oklahoma, didn't sit well with K-State.
"I think our whole attitude has changed. Coming out of the Oklahoma State game, we knew we had to step our level of play up and that started in practice," Foster said. "The next day in practice, we turned up our intensity and got everything back on track. I think that's why we're playing better. Now it's all about staying mature. We're playing a good Texas Tech team (tonight), and it could come down to the wire, so we have to be able to go in there and get the win like we did the other night (against Oklahoma)."
Though Texas Tech comes to Manhattan on a three-game losing skid with its most recent loss an 86-54 setback at Kansas, the Wildcats are staying focused on the task at hand.
"Every game in the Big 12 is tough. Every team is good, so we're going to play every game from here on out like it's a Big 12 Championship game," explained sophomore forward Wesley Iwundu. "That's our mindset right now. We're treating every opponent the same. We're focused for the games and have a serious mindset; we're getting more mature about the teams we play. We just have a whole different mindset for the rest of the season."
With that mindset, K-State has been working harder than ever before to get back on track this season.
"We just made sure we didn't throw a pity party or get down on ourselves," added junior forward Stephen Hurt. "We knew that we had a good team and we knew the things we could do, so we just stayed focus, worked harder than we have in practice before and it's paid off."
Not taking any game for granted, the Wildcats are taking things a day at a time. The past is the past, and this team is ready to take care of the present.
"I used the same emphasis yesterday as I did a week ago: you can't dwell in the past, you can't dream in the future - you have to concentrate on today," concluded Weber. "Now it's just worrying about practice and Texas Tech. I think maturity is really important, consistency is important, and then our effort, I think that's really important. All those things will give you a chance."
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO STILLWATER
The K-State women's basketball team (11-3, 1-2 Big 12) hits the road today to take on Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-2 Big 12) at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma, at 7 p.m.
Coming off of an exciting 58-52 comeback win over Kansas on Sunday afternoon in Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats are looking to build off that win and earn its first true road victory of the 2014-15 season.
"It's a quick turnaround. With a Sunday game it's always a quick turnaround, so we're just getting to look at them," said head coach Jeff Mittie on Monday afternoon. "They're coming off of a tough one in Fort Worth where they led for most of the game and just couldn't finish it. They've got a very talented team. They have a lot of nice pieces; I think they're a legitimate top-20 team. They play good, solid fundamental basketball and they rarely beat themselves."
Oklahoma State enters tonight's game following a 70-66 loss at TCU on Sunday afternoon and, though the Cowgirls have lost two of their last three games, they're 9-0 this season in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
"I'm excited to play them," said sophomore forward Breanna Lewis. "It's going to be another challenge and another good game. I think the KU win gave us more confidence. It was great win for our team because we were very connected and I felt like we played really well. As a team, our chemistry has been great from the bench to the court."
Following tonight's game, K-State returns home on Saturday to take on Iowa State in Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m. Celebrating the annual "Pack the House" game, tickets and select concession items for the game against the Cyclones will be available for just $1.