K-State Hosts Lamar in NIT Season Tip-Off Monday

Sophomore Angel Rodriguez led the Wildcats with 13 points in the win over North Dakota on Friday.

Nov. 11, 2012

Game Notes  |  Live Stats  |  Live Audio  |  ESPN3

Game 2

Kansas State (1-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. Lamar (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
NIT Season Tip-Off Midwest Regional
Monday, November 12, 2012 * 7:02 p.m. CT *

Manhattan, Kan. * Bramlage Coliseum (12,528)

Television/Internet: ESPN3 (Internet-only)
Dave Armstrong (play-by-play); Rich Zvosec (analyst); Doc Carothers (producer)
Channel Directory: n/a
HD Channel Directory: n/a

Radio: K-State Sports Network
Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play); Stan Weber (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 vs. Lamar: Tied 1-1 (L, 75-116; 12/21/1991)
vs. Southland: 6-3 (6-0 at home)
Bruce Weber vs. Lamar: 0-0

rv/rv Kansas State (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Head coach: Bruce Weber (Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘78)
School Record: 1-0 (1st season)  * Career Record: 314-155 (15th season)  * vs. Lamar: 0-0 

Lamar (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
Head coach: Pat Knight (Indiana ‘95)
School Record: 23-12 (2nd season)  * Career Record: 73-73 (5th season)  * vs. K-State: 1-3

The Game
Kansas State will host the Midwest Regional of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff on Monday and Tuesday with the winner of the regional advancing to the semifinals of the tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23.  K-State will play Lamar (0-0) on Monday in the first game of a doubleheader at 7 p.m. on ESPN3, while Division II opponent Alabama-Huntsville (1-0) and North Texas (0-1) will play in the nightcap at 9:30 p.m.  The Wildcats will play either UAH or North Texas on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.  All four teams in the regional won at least 18 games in 2011-12, while three (K-State, Lamar and Alabama-Huntsville) advanced to the NCAA Tournament.  This will mark the Wildcats’ third appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off, following losses at Alabama in 1994 and Arizona in 1999. 

No. 3 seed K-State is one of four schools hosting regionals this week, which includes top-seed and No. 5/5 Michigan (1-0), No. 2 seed Virginia (0-1), and No. 4 seed Pittsburgh (1-0).  Other schools seeded in the 16-team tournament include No. 5 seed Lehigh (East), No. 6 seed Robert Morris (East), No. 7 seed Cleveland State (North) and No. 8 Delaware (South).  Unlike some predetermined tournaments, a host school must win its two games to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.  The 12 teams that don’t make it to the semifinals will play third- and fourth-round doubleheaders Nov. 19 and 20 on the campuses of the three highest remaining seeds.      

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
Lamar returns just five lettermen, including just one starter, from a squad that won the Southland Conference Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a 23-12 record in head coach Pat Knight’s first season in 2011-12.  Picked fifth in the Preseason Southland Conference Coaches’ poll, the Cardinals return just 14.5 percent of its scoring, 26 percent of its rebounding and 12.5 percent of its assists.  Senior forward Stan Brown is the top returning scorer at 4.9 points on 47.6 percent shooting to go with 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 17.5 minutes per game.  The team has eight newcomers, including five true freshmen.  A familiar face from his days at Texas Tech (2007-11), Knight is 73-73 (.500) in his fifth season as a head coach, which includes Lamar’s first 20-win season since 1987-88.  He is 1-3 all-time vs. K-State, including 0-2 mark at Bramlage Coliseum.  The series is tied at 1-all with each team winning on their own home court in a home-and-home series in 1990 and 1991.  The Cardinals won the last meeting, 116-75, at home on Dec. 21, 1991.  K-State is 6-3 all-time Southland Conference teams, including a 6-0 mark at home.  The last match-up against a Southland foe came in an 89-50 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 20, 2003.

The Rest of the Field
K-State will play either Alabama-Huntsville (1-0) or North Texas (0-1) in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at 9 p.m.  The Chargers, the only Division II team selected to the field, is coming off a 58-44 win over Point Loma Nazarene at home on Friday.  UAH returns eight lettermen, including three starters, from a squad that posted a 29-4 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second straight season in 2011-12.  Head coach Lennie Acuff is 401-262 in his 23rd season as a head coach, including a 284-150 mark in 16 seasons at UAH.  The Mean Green opened their season with a 71-51 loss at No. 16/15 Creighton on Friday night, as  All-American candidate Tony Mitchell led the way with 18 points and seven rebounds.  UNT returns eight lettermen, including all five starters, from a team that posted an 18-14 record and advanced to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship game in 2011-12.  Tony Benford is in his first season at North Texas after a stint as an assistant at  Marquette.  K-State has never faced UAH, while is 6-1 all-time vs. UNT, including a 82-62 win in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.      

Weber Era Opens with a Win
Kansas State opened the Bruce Weber Era with a dominate 85-52 victory over North Dakota on Friday.  The Wildcats broke open a one-point game with a 10-2 run to end the first half then used stellar shooting (53.1%) in the second half to post its 10th straight season-opening win.  Eleven players scored in the contest, including four in double figures, led by 13 points each from  sophomores Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez.  The squad is now 85-24 all-time in season openers, including a 73-8 mark at home.  Overall, the Wildcats have won 19 consecutive openers at home, including a 20-1 record at Bramlage Coliseum.  Weber is 14-1 (.933) in his 15-year career as a head coach in season openers (SIU and Illinois), including a 14-0 mark in home openers.

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.            

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.  

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 Continues Success by Wildcat Coaches in Debut
Weber continued the success of Wildcat head coaches in their debut in Friday’s 85-52 win over North Dakota.  K-State head coaches have now won 17 of 24 debuts, including each of the last four and seven of the last eight.  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 eight debuts that have occurred at home with the last loss icoming 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 apart 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... Named a NJCAA Academic All-American as a sophomore.

Johnson with Quite the Debut
Freshman D.J. Johnson enjoyed quite the debut in Friday’s win over North Dakota, pacing the team in both rebounds (nine) and blocked shots (four), while adding four points in just 16 minutes of work off the bench.  The St. Louis native continued his stellar play from exhibition play, where he averaged a team-best 13.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 8.0 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game.  An original redshirt candidate, Johnson impressed the coaches with his work ethic during the team’s trip to Brazil.

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.

‘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.