Weber, Players Discuss the Opening of Practice

Oct. 3, 2014
K-State Athletics

Men's Basketball Opens Practice Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Head coach Bruce Weber and selected players met with the area media on Thursday to discuss the official opening of practice on Friday. The Wildcats return nine lettermen, including five players with starting experience, from a squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fifth consecutive season in 2013-14.

Below is a transcript of those comments.

Head Coach Bruce Weber
On excitement for starting practice…
“For a coaching staff, it is a fun time of the year. You are trying to figure things out in your system, hopefully, it is a fun time for the players, too. It is hard. We always tell them, going through all of the conditioning that is hard, when you get to practice you think you are in shape and you are not. Practice shape is totally different. When you get to a game and you are still huffing and puffing, because the game shape is different. It is all a build up one day at a time. We have 30 days of practice now starting tomorrow until we can play a game. People always talk about habits are taught in a month. We will have a month of practice habits before we play that first game and hopefully we make some progress.”

On the plan for preseason practice…
“I think there is a fine line and we have to be smart. I think for the players instead of doing conditioning for another two weeks (with the old system) they would rather be here, but at the same time practice is harder. As coaches, we have to be smart because we cannot kill them (in practice). I have to have some common sense and build them up over time. We will go two hours tomorrow. We are just going to slowly build them up and you hope you are creating some mental toughness. That physicality and getting into shape, and at the same time they are learning the system and having to compete.”

On team injuries…
“Well, Thomas (Gipson) is back. He could not have any live practice until we started school (in August). I think he is back and going. Not quite in the shape he was a year ago, but I think he is putting himself in a place where he is getting close to that. Nino (Williams) had his surgery and he has been fine since the summer, we just have to keep him healthy and he has to keep rehabbing and pushing himself to stay in shape. D.J. (Johnson) still has a boot on and right know we are not really that optimistic, but we are going to go back to the doctor in a couple weeks and see where he is. Jack (Karapetyan) is finally out of the boot, and now it is the task to getting him into shape. He has not really done any basketball since way back last summer. After that Evan (Beucler), our new walk-on, had shoulder surgery and he will redshirt this season. We hope we can keep the other guys heathy.”

On non-conference schedule…
“I am not sure if all of my coaches will agree with me, but we definitely picked up the schedule. I think it was an obvious that we did not have a true road game last year. Thank, goodness we did not have one because when we got back from Puerto Rico we needed confidence, we needed some home games, and we needed to feel good about ourselves. Then we go on a 10-game winning streak. This year it is a little tougher, we have a true road game at Long Beach State just four games into the schedule. It will not be easy to go in to their place and be ready to go. We are going to Tennessee, it is not going to be easy playing an early game like that. I have challenged them and talked to them about if we are going to be special, we have to win road games.”

Senior Thomas Gipson
On being a more marked team unlike previous years…
“We’re a marked team, but were still under-the-radar. Ever since I’ve been here, we haven’t gotten the respect we deserve and that’s why we play with a chip on our shoulder. With this being my last year here at K-State, I really want to lead this team and go out with a bang.”

On how he feels after having a couple medical procedures done over the summer…
“I feel great; I really don’t have any problems now with my shoulder or my wrist. It feels good to be back out and active again, I was kind of down this summer since I couldn’t be with my teammates working out and getting better. Since I’ve been back, I’ve tried to be more engaged in everything and it really just feels great being back with my teammates.”

On the potential of this year’s team with added depth…
“The sky is the limit for this team and we have great depth this year. I don’t know who the starting five are going to be yet, but I know the guys that are coming off the bench will bring a lot to the table when it’s game time. Everyone is going to compete in practice and push each other. As long as we stick together as a team and everyone knows their roles this could be a high achieving team.”

On having more competition within the team this year…
“Last year if somebody wasn’t playing and performing at a high level we really didn’t have anyone else to fill those positions, and this year we do. Anyone can lose their starting position and anyone can come off the bench this season depending on how were practicing and competing. We’re all sharks and we all want to start and go onto the next level after this and we all know we have to work and play hard for it.”

Sophomore Marcus Foster
On how his summer went with various camps like the LeBron James Skills Academy…
“My summer went pretty well, I learned a lot at the LeBron James Camp and I think it really helped improve my game. I took a lot of stuff that I learned from that camp and brought it back here to help my team; not just scoring, but defending and passing at a higher level.”

On getting Preseason All-Big 12 honors…
“It’s something I wanted to achieve but I am more concerned with winning a Big 12 title. It’s a great honor to have during the preseason, but most people have told me that a lot of guys that are on that list in the preseason aren’t on there a lot of times at the end of the season. It just motivates me to work hard and make sure I’m on that list at the end of the season.”

On coming in under-the-radar last season, and now being a guy teams will key on…
“Things will be a little more difficult; I started feeling it last year about midway through the Big 12 season that teams started keying on me more. I will just relax and play my game and not force things. Last year when teams did start keying on me I just tried to stay relaxed and play my game.”

On one thing that can make this team a great team…
“Were a tough team, if we can find that trait we had last year when we found our groove on defense and were swarming everywhere, I feel like that could take this team to a whole new level. We have Big 12 championship talent; we just have to bring it on the defensive end because we already have the offense to score on opposing teams.”

Junior Justin Edwards
On the addition of him to the team…
“I think I bring more depth. Scoring also, sometimes we struggled to score last year and I think I can come in and help with that. Also, rebounding from a guard position I crash the boards well and just bring energy to the floor.”

On summer playing experience with AIA internationally…
“It was a good experience. We played a couple good games out there. I think I did well, trying to do everything to improve my scoring and rebounding skills. It really helped me playing in games because I had not played in over a year and getting used to the pace.”

Sophomore Wesley Iwundu
On the potential of this year’s team…
“We have a lot more height than last year, so the potential is high and people expect big things out of us, so we need to go out there and meet those expectations by having a good year.”

On being a second-year player and having some idea of expectations…
“I have watched a lot film (from last season) to see how our team and especially how I can improve. This year I feel like I have a better view and the game should come easier for me. I put a lot work in the weight room and on my jump shot to help improve my game personally.”