K-State Opens Weber Era with North Dakota Friday

Head coach Bruce Weber is 13-1 in openers in his career, including 13-0 in debuts at home.

Nov. 8, 2012

Game Notes in PDF Format

Game #1

Kansas State (0-0) vs. North Dakota (0-0)
Friday, November 9, 2012 * 8:10 p.m. CT
Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television: FOX Sports Kansas City/Midwest (except Indiana)
Ben Boyle (play-by-play); Stan Weber (analyst)
Channel Directory: DirecTV 671, Dish 418, AT&T U-verse 748
HD Channel Directory: DirecTV 671-1, Dish 418-1, AT&T 1748
Internet: www.K-StateHD.TV

Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Josh Reid (analyst)
Satellite Radio: None

Live Stats: http://www.kstatesports.com/multimedia/ksu-gt-live-stats.html

Live Audio: www.k-statesports.com/allaccess (free)
Twitter Updates: twitter.com/kstate_gameday

K-State in Season Openers: 84-24 (72-8 at home)

At Bramlage Coliseum: 19-1 (Won 18 in a row)
Current Streak: Won 9

rv/rv Kansas State (0-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)
School Record: 0-0 (1st season)  * Career Record: 313-155 (15th season)  * vs. UND: 0-0 

North Dakota (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Head coach: Brian Jones (Northern Iowa ‘94)
Career/School Record: 86-97 (Seventh season)  * vs. K-State: 0-0

The Game
Kansas State officially tips off the Bruce Weber Era on Friday night, as the Wildcats play host to North Dakota (0-0) in the second game of doubleheader at Bramlage Coliseum at 8 p.m.  The women’s basketball team opens the year with Idaho State at 5:30 p.m.  Men’s ticket-holders may present their UND ticket for early admission and sit in general admission seating for the women’s game.  The school is 84-24 (.778) all-time in season openers, including a 72-8 (.900) mark at home.  The Wildcats have won nine consecutive season openers since 2003 with its last loss coming to BYU, 73-64, on Nov. 23, 2002 at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Overall, the Wildcats have won 18 consecutive openers at home, including a stellar 19-1 (.950) record at Bramlage Coliseum, with the last setback coming to Southern Miss, 74-60, on Nov. 27, 1993.  Weber is 13-1 (.929) in his 14-year career as a head coach in season openers (Southern Illinois and Illinois), including a 13-0 mark in home openers.  His last loss in an opener came in his first season (1998-99) at SIU, where he dropped a 65-62 decision at Murray State.

Season tickets as well as a variety of other ticket packages are available for K-State men’s basketball by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS or by visiting online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets.  Single-game tickets for the seven non-conference contests are priced as low as $20 (bench).  A Wildcat 4 Pack (four bench tickets for $60) and group tickets ($10 each for 12+) are also available, while there is a five-game KU Mini-Plan (two non-conference and two Big 12  games to go with KU game for $250).  Ticket information for the nine-game Big 12 season will be announced at a later date.  

The Opponent
North Dakota returns 13 lettermen, including four starters, from a squad that won the Great West Conference Tournament title with a 17-15 overall record and advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2011-12 under head coach Brian Jones.  Junior guard Troy Huff is the team’s top returning scorer at 13.1 points per game on 39.5 percent shooting to go with 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 28.3 minutes per game.  The squad also returns senior Brandon Brekke (9.2 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) and juniors Aaron Anderson (11.0 ppg.) and Jamal Webb (9.5 ppg., 3.5 apg., 1.8 spg.).  Brekke was one of the top field goal shooters last season, connecting on a remarkable 68.2 percent (116-of-170) of his shots, while Webb was the MVP of the Great West Tournament.  A former assistant at Iowa, Jones is 86-97 (.470) in his seventh season as head coach at UND.  The 2012-13 season will mark the first one for North Dakota in the Big Sky Conference and first chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.  K-State is 14-4 all-time against teams from the Big Sky Conference, including 12-2 at home.

What’s Back 
Led by first-year head coach Bruce Weber, Kansas State returns 12 lettermen in 2012-13, including seven players with starting experience from a team that posted a 22-11 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons.  Senior guard Rodney McGruder, one of three unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 selections, is the returning leader in 11 categories, including scoring (15.8 ppg.), double-digit scoring games (28), field goals, 3-point field goals, free throws and minutes after starting all 33 games a year ago.  McGruder is one of only three returning Big 12 players to have ranked in the league’s Top 20 in both scoring and rebounding in 2011-12.  Others returning with starting experience include Big 12 All-Defensive Team selection and senior forward Jordan Henriquez (7.6 ppg., 5.8 rpg.), junior guard Will Spradling (9.3 ppg., 2.8 apg.), sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez (8.3 ppg., 3.2 apg., 1.3 spg.) and sophomore forward Thomas Gipson (7.0 ppg., 4.7 rpg.).  In all, the squad returns more than 80 percent of its scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and minutes played from last season.

Opening Tip
K-State is expected to start the same line-up as its two exhibition games with seniors Jordan Henriquez and Rodney McGruder, junior Will Spradling and sophomores Adrian Diaz and Angel Rodriguez.  McGruder and Spradling started all 33 games in 2011-12, while Rodriguez and Henriquez started 17 and 14 games, respectively, a year ago.  A start by Diaz would be the first after coming off the bench in 23 games as a true freshman.  McGruder has seen action in 76 consecutive games, including 67 starts in a row, heading into Friday night’s opener.  His 67 consecutive starts rank fifth all-time in school history, just seven behind Ed Nealy (74, 1978-82) for fourth place. Spradling has seen action in all 67 games of his Wildcat career with 39 starts. 

Recapping the Exhibition Season
Kansas State swept its two-game exhibition season, earning an 81-61 victory over Washburn on Oct. 30 followed by an 81-51 win over Emporia State on Nov. 4.  The Wildcats averaged 81 points in its two-game slate on 48.4 percent (59-of-122) shooting from the field, including 26.7 percent from 3-point range, to go with 48.5 rebounds, 16.5 assists, 13.0 turnovers, 8.5 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.  The team shot just 56.3 percent (36-of-64) from the free throw line.  Most of the 162 points scored came from paint (78), while the squad scored 38 points off turnovers, 36 on second-chance opportunities and 88 came from the bench.   Most of the minutes were spread across the roster with 13 of 15 players seeing an average of at least four minutes per game and only two players - Omari Lawrence (22.0) and Will Spradling (20.5) - averaging more than 20 minutes per game.  Nine players averaged at least 5.5 points per game in the two-game stretch with three players averaging in double figures led by freshman D.J. Johnson (13.5 ppg.), while seniors Jordan Henriquez (10.5 ppg.) and Rodney McGruder (10.0 ppg.) also averaged in twin figures.  The Wildcats also dominated the glass, holding a +16 rebounding margin, including an average of 17 offensive boards per game.  Eight players averaged at least two rebounds per game, including a team-best 8.5 average by Henriquez to go with 8.0 average from Johnson.  Eight players also posted at least two assists during exhibition play with junior Shane Southwell leading the way with six, while 10 players had at least one steal led by three apiece from Angel Rodriguez and Nino Williams.            

New Staff 
Bruce Weber, one of the winningest active Division I coaches with over 300 wins and eight NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, was named the 24th head men’s basketball coach at K-State on March 31, 2012.  The 2005 National Coach of the Year, Weber has won 313 games in his 14 seasons as a head coach, which includes stints at Southern Illinois (1998-2003) and Illinois (2003-12).  Weber’s staff, which brings over 115 years of experience at a variety of levels, includes associate head coach Chris Lowery, assistants Alvin Brooks III and Chester Frazier, director of operations Brad Korn and strength coach Jimmy Price.  

Weber Stellar in Debuts
First-year head coach Bruce Weber has been solid in season openers in his head coaching career, posting a 13-1 (.929) mark in debuts during his stints at Southern Illinois (1999-2003) and Illinois (2003-12).  He is also 13-0 in season openers at home with his only loss in 14 tries coming on the road at Murray State (65-62) in his first season at SIU (1998-99).  Weber’s teams have won these 13 openers by an average of 19.1 points per game, including a 45-point win over Austin Peay on Nov. 13, 2006.

Wildcat Head Coaches Successful in Debuts
Kansas State coaches have typically been successful in their coaching debuts with 16 of the previous 23 head coaches winning their first games, including each of the last three and six of the last seven.  Jim Wooldridge (2000), Bob Huggins (2006) and Frank Martin (2007) each won their coaching debuts, while Tom Asbury (1994) was the last Wildcat coach to lose his debut - a 79-48 setback at Alabama on Nov. 16, 1994.  K-State coaches have won their last seven debuts that have occurred at home with the last loss in a first game played at home coming way back on Dec. 4, 1944 when Fritz Knorr’s squad lost a 53-35 decision to Fort Riley.   Only three coaches - Mike Ahearn (1907), Charles Corsaut (1924) and Knorr - have lost their debut at home. 

New Faces
The Wildcats welcome just three newcomers in 2012-13, which includes junior walk-on Ryan Schultz and freshmen D.J. Johnson and Michael Orris.  Schultz walked on to the team this past summer after playing two seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where he averaged 7.9 points on a team-best 54.9 percent shooting with 5.8 rebounds as a junior in 2011-12.  Johnson and Orris both signed with the Wildcats after the hiring of head coach Bruce Weber.  Johnson, a two-sport standout at St. Louis’ Parkway North High School, was the first commit for Weber in April, while Orris, who originally signed with Illinois as a part of Weber’s final recruiting class, did not receive his release until May before enrolling at K-State.

Here are brief thumbnails on each newcomer:
--D.J. Johnson (6-8, 250, Freshman) - A three-year starter and lettermen at Parkway North High School in St. Louis, where he helped the Vikings to their first-ever Class 5, District 5 title in 2011-12... Averaged 16.3 points on 64.6 percent shooting to go with 11.9 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, 1.6 steals and 1.2 assists per game in 28 games as a senior... Earned second team All-Class 5 as a senior in 2011-12... Led the team in points, field goal percentage, rebounding and blocks... Collected 18 double-doubles.
--Michael Orris (6-2, 190, Freshman) - A two-year starter and lettermen at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, Ill., where he helped the Warriors to a berth in Illinois High School Association Regionals in 2011-12... Averaged 11 points and 4 assists per game as senior... Selected honorable mention Class 4A All-State in 2011-12... Helped the Warriors to their first sectional title as a junior en route to the best record in school history at 25-4 overall in 2010-11 with an average of 10.2 points and 6.2 assists.
--Ryan Schultz (6-5, 200, Junior) - A two-year lettermen at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where he helped the Blue Dragons to a 25-7 overall record as a sophomore in 2011-12... Averaged 7.9 points on a team-best 54.9 percent shooting with 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 28.4 minutes per game... Named a NJCAA Academic All-American as a sophomore.

What’s Gone
K-State lost just two lettermen from 2011-12 with the departure of seniors Jamar Samuels and Victor Ojeleye, the winningest senior class in school history with 96 victories from 2008-12.  Samuels is one of just three players in K-State history to collect 1,200 points and 700 rebounds in a career, joining the late Bob Boozer (1956-59) and Ed Nealy (1978-82).  He ranked first on the squad in 2011-12 in double-doubles (eight) and rebounding (6.6 rpg.) and was named honorable mention All-Big 12.

Recapping the Trip to Brazil
K-State got a jump start on its preparations for the 2012-13 men’s basketball season with its 10-day trip to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 8-17, 2012.  The NCAA allows teams to make a foreign trip once every four years, but this was the first by the program since playing four games in and around Vancouver, British Columbia in October 2004.  Overall, it was the program’s fourth trip outside the country, which includes excursions to Japan in 1981 and Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in 1993.  K-State played four games during the trip, posting a 2-2 record as the squad had to adjust to international rules (four, eight-minute quarters among other differences with NCAA rules).  The Wildcats averaged 70 points on 41.9 percent shooting (99-of-236), including 31.4 percent (22-of-70) from the 3-point range, while connecting on 75.9 percent (60-of-79) from the free throw line.  The team averaged 37.5 rebounds, 15.8 assists, 17.5 turnovers, 4.8 blocks and 9.8 blocks per game.

Sophomore Angel Rodriguez paced all scorers with a 10.3 points per game average on 40 percent shooting, including 35.7 percent from 3-point range, with a team-best 4.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game.  Three others - Nino Williams, Rodney McGruder and Adrian Diaz - all averaged 9.0 points per game, while junior Will Spradling and senior Jordan Henriquez added 8.5 points and 7.3 points per game averages.  Williams led the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), 3-point field goal percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (83.3), while Diaz was tops in field goals (14), field goal percentage (58.3) and blocks (2.5 bpg.).  Freshman D.J. Johnson was second in rebounding (5.3 rpg.), while Diaz and Henriquez were third at 4.8 rebounds per game.  

Fox Sports, Kansas State Announce Men’s Basketball TV Schedule
FOX Sports will broadcast seven Kansas State men’s basketball games during the 2012-13, the school and network announced on Nov. 1.  FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest will televise all seven games in high-definition, the majority of them to its entire FOX Sports Midwest footprint of more than six million cable and satellite home in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.  With the exception of the regular-season opener against North Dakota on Nov. 9, all games will also be simulcast to a national audience on FOX College Sports.  The feed of all seven telecasts will also be streamed live via K-StateHD.TV for the first time to any areas outside the FOX television footprints.

The announcement once again gives the Wildcats a comprehensive television package with all 32 games being able to be seen throughout the country on either cable or the internet.  K-State could have as many as 20 nationally-televised games, including a combined 11 appearances on ESPN and ESPN2.  The squad will also have eight regular-season games broadcast as a part of the Big 12 Network, which will be distributed to affiliates around the nation as well as on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com.

FOX Sports recently signed a new three-contract with Learfield Sports to continue as the third-tier television rights holder for K-State Athletics.  As part of the agreement, FOX Sports will televise nearly 60 broadcasts, including up to 28 live K-State sporting events in 2012-13.  FOX Sports Kansas City/Midwest will also carry the Bruce Weber Television Show, which debuts on Dec. 1.

FOX Sports Kansas City, a regional sports television network, is the leading provider of local sports in Kansas and western Missouri.  FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest combine to reach more than 6 million television homes and produce more than 2000 hours of local programming each year, including Kansas City Royals baseball, Big 12, Kansas State University, University of Missouri and Missouri Valley Conference sports, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, St. Louis Blue hockey and much more.  For more information, visit FOXSportsKansasCity.com.  FOX College Sports is seen by viewers in the nation’s 25 largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta.  FCS is available in DirecTV and most major cable companies including AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast, Insight, Time Warner and Verizon FiOS.  For complete cable provider information and availability log onto http://fcs.channelfinder.net/start.asp.

‘Cats Picked 5th in Big 12 Preseason Poll
Kansas State was selected to finish fifth in the preseason 2012-13 Big 12 Conference coaches’ poll released by the league office on Oct. 11.  The Wildcats received 54 points to earn fifth place in the second-year of the 10-team conference configuration, just four points behind fourth-place Texas (58) and six behind third-place Oklahoma State (60).  Kansas was the overwhelming pick to win the league, earning 81 points and nine of the 10 first-place votes.  It marks the 11th time in Big 12 history that the Jayhawks have been the preseason favorite after winning their eighth consecutive regular season title a year ago.  Baylor was chosen second with 63 points and received the other first-place vote.  After the top 5, the rest of the poll included newcomer West Virginia (45), Oklahoma (34), Iowa State (28), Texas Tech (18) and TCU (9).  Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams.

The fifth-place prediction is one spot better than last season’s pick of sixth place, which was the lowest for K-State since 2008-09.  The Wildcats, who finished in fifth place in the Big 12 a year ago, are one of only two teams to finish in the league’s top-5 and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the past six seasons.  With only 10 teams, the top-6 will earn a bye in the 2013 event with the lower four seeds playing on the first day. 

McGruder Named Preseason Top 50 Wooden Award Candidate
Senior Rodney McGruder was named a preseason Top 50 candidate for the John R. Wooden Award by the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Nov. 8.  The Wooden list, which reflects the early frontrunners for one of college basketball’s Premier Player of the Year awards, is based on last year’s individual performance and team records.  These players and others who excel during the season will be evaluated and considered for December’s Midseason list with the official voting ballot released in March.  McGruder becomes the first Wildcat named as a preseason Top 50 candidate for the Wooden Award since teammate Jacob Pullen was selected in 2010. 

One of just three unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 selections, McGruder looks to build on an impressive junior campaign, in which, he led the Wildcats in 11 categories, including scoring (15.8 ppg.), double-figure scoring (28), field goals (188), 3-point field goals (50) and free throws (97).  He was one of six Big 12 players selected to the list, which included Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Kansas’ Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash.

McGruder Named to Preseason All-Big 12 Team
Senior Rodney McGruder was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 team released by the conference office on Oct. 4.  McGruder, who was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection in 2011-12, was one of three unanimous picks by the league’s head coaches, joining Kansas’ Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash.  The final two spots on the team went to Baylor’s Pierre Jackson and Texas’ Myck Kabongo.  Jackson was voted as the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year by the coaches, while Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart were the Preseason Newcomer and Freshman of the Year.  McGruder is the first player named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team since Jacob Pullen was named to the squad along with garnering Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year honors in 2010-11.  It marks just the third time that a Wildcat student-athlete (Manny Dies in 1998-99, Pullen and Curtis Kelly in 2010-11) has been selected to the preseason team.  One of only three returning Big 12 players to have ranked in the Top 20 in both scoring and rebounding in 2011-12, McGruder led the Wildcats in 11 categories as a junior and already ranks 21st in school history with 1,029 points.
Up Next: Lamar (0-0)
K-State will make a quick turnaround and host the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff Manhattan Regional on Monday and Tuesday with the Wildcats playing Lamar (0-0) in the first game at 7 p.m. before Alabama-Huntsville (0-0) and North Texas (0-0)  play in the night cap at 9:30 p.m.  The winners will play Tuesday at 9 p.m. for the right to advance to Madison Square Garden.