Men's Basketball Participates in Big 12 Media Day
Men's Basketball Participates in Big 12 Media Day
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - First-year head coach Bruce Weber and seniors Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder participated in Big 12 Conference Media Day on Wednesday afternoon at the Sprint Center.
Earlier this month, K-State was selected fifth in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, while McGruder was one of three unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
The Wildcats return 12 lettermen, including seven players with starting experience, in 2012-13 from a squad that posted a 22-11 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons. The team has tallied six consecutive 20-win seasons and six straight trips to the postseason for the first time in school history. Overall, the squad returns over 80 percent of its scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and minutes played.
Season tickets for the 19-game home season are on-sale and can be purchased in a variety of ways, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at www.kstatesports.com and in-person at the Athletics Ticket Office located in Bramlage Coliseum.
Below is a full transcript of Weber's press conference from earlier Wednesday.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, welcome and your thoughts on about the season.
COACH WEBER: Obviously excited to be at K-State. There's a lot of positive things going on both on our campus and the Big 12, just happy to be part of it. We have a veteran group back, lot of minutes from last year led by our three seniors, Rodney McGruder, of course, one of the top players in the league last year, Jordan Henriquez and Martavious Irving. If we're going to have success, we need those guys to have good years. The thing I've done since I took the job is focus on those guys. I want them to be successful, and, you know before I even took the job I got ahold of Rodney just to make sure if you can get your best guy to buy in to be sold and ready to go on what's going to happen, it makes it easier on you as a coach and a staff. So we need these guys to be successful. We have a lot of other guys. We have some good depth. We had a chance to go to Brazil this summer and ten days of practice, a chance to get to know each other on the trip. Little bit of a nice jump start on the season. We're looking forward to it.
Any coach right now, we had three or four pretty good days of practice. It obviously takes a toll on them. After yesterday you're not sure you can beat anybody. But that is part of the early month of practice, and it's a tough grind. But it's a time you get your foundation together, the things you'll be successful at. Hopefully you can emphasize those, and those will be things that you'll fall back on. I think that will be our toughness, our defense, our rebounding, which Coach Martin did a great job of implementing into the program. And slowly but surely if we can make some shots and teach them a little bit of offense, maybe we can be a competitor in the league.
Q. How do you see -- do you see a different in general between the final play in the Big Ten and Big 12 and maybe your system fits the Big 12 a little better?
COACH WEBER: Both are very good conferences. There is no doubt. The thing, and I mentioned a lot of things going good in this conference. I was surprised when I went to Big 12 meetings and you start looking at the success, and you look at the scoreboard up there, all of the things that have happened over the last five years, ten years in the league, there are obviously a foundation there now, a TV package, a lot of good things.
So I think the difference, if you look at it and I've had a chance, we played Texas, we played Kansas, we played Oklahoma State through the years. Maybe a little better athletes. A little bit more length. Big Ten, a little more possession oriented, defensive-wise. They get up and down a little more in the Big 12 than maybe the Big Ten. That's team by team, but very good basketball, obviously, in both conferences.
Q. You had a chance to follow Bill Self at Illinois, now you have a chance to compete against him in the same conferences as a chief rival. What do you think will be harder?
COACH WEBER: It was difficult to follow him. He did a tremendous job at Illinois. The kids liked him, the fans liked him, and I had to get them sold that, hey, we'll be okay. We actually did pretty
good. So it was a good run for us. Bill was truly missed there when he left. But we kind of got our own thing going.
Now, obviously, as one of the first questions John Currie asked me, my athletic director, when I interviewed. Why do you want to come here and deal with that? And I think as a coach, you want to compete against the best. Kansas, and running the Big 12 is amazing. Obviously, nationally the last three or four years Bill has been to the Final Four, runner up, won national champions. As a coach, you want that challenge. That's the exciting part of it. I hope we make it a rivalry. It's obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. So it should be fun. He's done a great job, and hopefully we can compete with them.
Q. You talked a little bit about him. But I wonder if you could speak about having Rodney as a pillar as you try to build your program? To have somebody like him to lean on?
COACH WEBER: There's no doubt if you have seniors and veteran seniors, experienced guys, that it makes it so much easier as a coach. The nice thing about Rodney, he's a tremendous
person if you've been around him. I don't know if you can get a better kid. He's a very, very hard worker. He wants to do well. He's always in the gym. So that makes it easier. If your best guy is
doing that, everybody else wants to watch. Our guys get in the gym, and some of it is because of him. He has to get better. He knows that. We're trying to work on learning the play without the basketball. He's good with the ball. He's strong. He's a good rebounder. But in the long run he's going to be a good leader for us, and mainly by his work ethic.
Q. You've had a lot of really good guards that you've coached, Deron Williams obviously comes to mind. How does McGruder stack up with some of the good guards you've coached through your career?
COACH WEBER: He's a little different. He's kind of a hybrid guard/forward. He's so physical and strong. He gets to the basket. He's the second in rebounding in practice. We did stats
the other day, and he's our leading rebounder in practice. So he's very versatile. We'll have to post him up a little bit. The thing we're trying to get him to do is play without the basketball. Learn to read screens, come off staggers and make the good read, the tight curls, and shoot open shot. I think that's the other thing. He's so driven and so tough. He's always trying to get to the basket. Slow down, he told me the other day I thought it was a nice epiphany for him, he said, "Coach, I go too fast." I said, "Yes, slow down, and let the game come." If we can get him to do that with his work ethic and his attitude, he's going to be very, very good, but he's a little different than maybe a Deron Williams or Luther, Smith, some of those guys we had at Illinois.
Q. What is the importance of having a basketball practice facility?
COACH WEBER: I talked about a lot of positive things on our campus. Obviously, football's success, volleyball, and then to add a brand-new practice facility is just great timing for me. One, for practice, you don't appreciate it. When you have a building, you kind of take it for granted. When you don't have a building, the deal with the men's and women's practices, just fighting for time that's not easy. In our women's program, Deb's done a great job there. She wants her time, we want our time. So you have that aspect. But the other part is just getting shots up. If you're in an arena, and you look around we have one side basket, and you can't get shots up. When I took the job, everyone said got to get free throws better. I know why. You don't have the time to put the effort into working on free throws. So we're not in the gym yet. We had the ribbon cutting, and they're going through getting the state codes and all that stuff. But we're hoping by the end of the week we'll be in. It will give us 24/7 with the kids coming in and shooting. Guys like Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez they love to get in the gym, so that's going to help putting time with shots, more practice time, going when you want. Then, obviously, recruiting. We have something pretty special now to show recruits that's ours on the K-State campus.