SE: Men’s Basketball Shifts Focus to Colorado State

Scheduling practice around 16 different players’ final exams is no easy task, but K-State men’s basketball was able to do just that this week.

Even on a day where there was no possible way to get the entire team together in the gym, the K-State men’s basketball players didn’t take any time off. 

“I wish we could have had a more structured week of practice, but it is what it is,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber yesterday afternoon. “On Wednesday there were exams from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, and we never could find a pocket of time to have practice where we’d have everybody there. But we got a lot more shooting in this week, more mental preparation and watching film. We have a good group who wants to do well.”

Weber decided to give the team Wednesday off, but with tomorrow’s Wichita Wildcat Classic against Colorado State (6-4, 0-0 MWC) looming in the distance, the team didn’t want to take the day completely off. 

“We got in the gym individually and got up shots,” said senior guard Justin Edwards. “(Wednesday) was an off day, but every player was in the gym whether it was watching film or shooting. We’ve done a good job with getting in the gym and doing extra because we just want to get better and we want to keep winning.”

Tomorrow’s game tips off at 3 p.m. in Wichita’s INTRUST Bank Arena and is one of just three nonconference games left this season for the Wildcats before the team starts up Big 12 play. 

“It’s hard to schedule around everyone’s finals,” said Brian Rohleder who, as a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, has had a busy week, “but we’re still working hard, getting good practice time in and being smart.”

The Wildcats have played in at least one defacto home game, whether in Kansas City or Wichita, every year since 2007.  Tomorrow’s contest will mark the third time K-State has played in the Wichita Wildcat Classic, with the previous two games both proving exciting matchups. In 2011, K-State lost a nail-biter in double-overtime to West Virginia while in 2013 the Wildcats defeated Gonzaga, 72-62 on a snowy Wichita afternoon. 

The crowds for these home-like games always come out in full force, especially at a place like INTRUST Arena where K-State fans have proven to provide a fantastic environment for K-State men’s basketball. 
“The venue, whether it’s Kansas City or Wichita, gives our team a lot of energy,” said Rohleder. “Playing at a different place but still seeing it packed with purple and seeing all of our fans really energizes us and brings our game to a new level.”

A Wichita native and graduate of Bishop Carroll High School, Rohleder said he will have plenty of family and friends at the game cheering him on this weekend.

Rohleder isn’t the only one excited for the INTRUST Bank Arena environment – the whole team is. 

“The crowds have been so energized and so engaged,” said Weber about playing in venues around the state. “That’s been the coolest thing. When we went to Kansas City and played Florida (2012), it was big time. It was a big time atmosphere; the Sprint Center was packed with purple. When you have a crowd like that, when you have that atmosphere, I think it helps the players raise their game.”

Tomorrow’s game will be aired on FOX Sports Kansas City and K-StateHD.TV with Brian Smoller (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) on the call. Fans can also listen to tomorrow’s game across the K-State Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (analyst) calling the action.  

With their finals now behind them, K-State basketball can now focus solely on taking on Colorado State and performing before another crowd of purple tomorrow afternoon. 

“When we played in KC everyone was super excited and super pumped,” said Edwards remembering back to the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in the Kansas City Sprint Center earlier this fall. “So playing in Wichita, most of us haven’t played there, being able to play in a new venue where we’re going to have a lot of fans is going to be fun for us. We look at it as another home game. Hopefully we have a big crowd. It’s going to be exciting.”

For more information on tomorrow’s Wichita Wildcat Classic, please click here

K-State women’s basketball will play the third game of a five-game home stand on Saturday night, as the Wildcats are set to host Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. 

Like the men’s team, this week of practice has been a little different for the Wildcat women’s basketball team, however head coach Jeff Mittie said he’s liked what he’s seen from his group this week. 

“We’ve only had one practice with the game on Sunday, but it was a really good practice,” said Mittie yesterday afternoon. “It was a really energetic practice. We wanted our players to get some rest and really focus on finals. I’ve interacted with them periodically throughout the weeks and everyone seems to be getting good marks on their finals, so I think that’s good. You want that stress removed.” 

K-State enters tomorrow evening’s game riding a five-game winning streak capped a 102-53 win over Florida Atlantic on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats’ win over Florida Atlantic was the first time K-State scored 100 or more points in a game since Nov. 26, 2005 and the first time the Wildcats have scored 100 or more points at home since Jan. 5, 2003.

For game notes, ticket information and more on the Wildcats’ upcoming matchup against Sam Houston State, please click here.