Weber, Edwards Preview Friday's Opener with UMES

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Head coach Bruce Weber and senior guard Justin Edwards talked with the area media on Wednesday to discuss Friday's opener with Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES) at 7 p.m. CT at Bramlage Coliseum. Friday’s opener is the first of three straight for the Wildcats at home to start the season, including Monday’s doubleheader tilt with Columbia and concluding with South Dakota on Friday, Nov. 20.  K-State is 86-25 (.775) all-time in season openers dating back to the first season in 1903, including a 74-9 (.892) mark at home. The Wildcats are 21-2 (.913) in season openers at Bramlage Coliseum, which includes a 16-game winning streak from 1995-2012.

Fans can purchase tickets through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office for as low as $10 with a Bramlage Bundle available which includes one GA/bench ticket, $10 concession voucher and a souvenir of your choice from the K-State Super Store for just $20.

Friday's opener will be televised on FOX Sports Kansas City (state of Kansas and Kansas City area only) on DirecTV 671-5 and Dish 444 and 412-32 as well as on K-StateHD.TV (subscription service) and ESPN3 (outside the state of Kansas).

Below is a transcript of that media availability.

Head Coach Bruce Weber
On being ready to start regular season...
“Not sure we are ready or anyone in the country is ready, especially when you have a lot of new players it takes a little bit of time but you need to get game experience. We have had two good exhibition games a week apart where you can come back and regroup to make progress, but now it is for real. We have three games in the next eight days and five games in 13 days, so we will learn a lot about our team and then give us a chance to regroup over Thanksgiving Break. It is like a little tournament bracket with us playing Friday and Monday. Obviously we are lucky to have both at home and have two contrasting styles. With Maryland Eastern-Shore won 18 games last, the most wins in recent history (last 30 to 40 years). They will play kind of a scrambling defense with a matchup zone, then they will trap first pass, and have a little bit of pressing. Then on Monday have Columbia, last year they ran the Princeton offense and have a lot of veterans. Maryland Eastern-Shore is a lot like us having ten new bodies, then Columbia has pretty much everybody back. So you are going to play a young team that goes with scrambled defenses to get you going up and down, and then playing a Columbia team with some veterans on Monday who are very smart, intelligent, and tough that run a good system. It will be a challenge for our guys and we will see where we are at.”

On what will be the tone setter for the start of the season...
“I think for this game is taking care of the basketball. Dealing with some trapping and pressing and things like that. We had a lot of fast break opportunities in the first two exhibitions where we did not get anything out of it; going too fast, not letting it come to you, missing layups and thing like that are going to be important. These games are preparation for down the road in the league. West Virginia is going to press, Texas is going to press with (Coach) Shaka (Smart). All these experiences are good for preparation down the road. Playing hard and defending well will be important. We have been playing well defensively the first to games and that has to continue in this game, especially in one-on-one defense. They have a good post guy that post up, so we will have to guard in the post and they are going to spread us out with a dribble drive type offense, so our one-on-one defense will be important. I think rebounding is going to be a big stat. We have to get more offensive rebounds. Fort Hays kind of went at us on the boards, with our size advantage the numbers should not have been where they ended up and that is something that has to be improved.”

On the recent play of Austin Budke...
“It is nice having somebody with some size and physically along with him being a smart player and student that comes every day to play hard even when is hurt. I think he has been injured since practice has started, but that is just how he is and who he plays. He was a football recruit at one point bringing in that toughness. Zach (Winter) was the first one that I met who wanted to come and walked on and I talked to their coach about it and I looked like we were going to have an opportunity for him. It was at least April maybe almost May before Austin called and said he made some visits and decided he wanted to stay close to home and get an engineering degree from K-State and he wanted to try it. It has been nice especially with our injuries, definitely has been a blessing for us.” 

On Dean Wade battling foul trouble past game...
“Not getting into foul trouble would help. Only playing four or five minutes in the first two halves and he losses a little rhythm. Then in the second half we are kind of force feeding him making him stay out there 11-12 minutes. It is all new to him like most of the other new guys that they need to do what they do and play hard. I think focus is important on things you can control like playing hard and rebounding and then step up and hit open shots. He is just going through some growing pains like all the other freshman, and they all are different. One is probably trying to do too much and then Dean is young man that worries about everything. So we are just kind of learning as we go.”

Senior Guard Justin Edwards
On the excitement of starting the season...
“Yes, we are definitely excited to finally get our first D1 game under our belts. We are just super excited and ready to play.”

On setting the tone of this team…
“I think we set the tone in the first five minutes of our second exhibition and defensively in both games, I think we played well in. So I think that is definitely what we look forward to in our next games is locking down defensively because we know if we can play defense we can win games.”

On improving the offense...
“Yes with just moving, cutting, and knowing when to set good screens. Just getting better on offense is something we need to work at more. We focus a lot on defense throughout these last three months, so know I think we need to focus some more on offense and running more plays.”