Wildcats Take On Purdue in Maui Invitational
"We're excited to be here," said K-State head coach Bruce Weber yesterday at the head coaches' press conference. "It's a great opportunity for K-State. I think it's 20-something years since K-State has been here, so people in our administration and in our community, we're excited that we have this opportunity. It's one of the prestigious tournaments to be a part of."
Tipping off tournament play in Maui with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten), K-State's game today is set to tip off at 1:30 p.m. (CT) in the Lahaina Civic Center. The game can be viewed nationally on ESPN2.
While K-State is coming off of a rough, 69-60, loss to Long Beach State last Friday in which the team carded its worst field goal percentage of the season (32.8 percent from the field, 14.3 percent from the three), with a weekend to recuperate and recover, it has put the loss in the rearview and learned from it. On the flipside, poor shooting isn't expected from the Boilermakers as Purdue has defeated each of its three opponents by 20-plus points so far this season.
"We didn't have a very good outing (at Long Beach State) - we didn't shoot the ball well," explained Weber, "but that is part of growing as a team. We have some older guys, some new guys, and we had some guys that sat out last year that are trying to figure it out. We're trying to figure it out as a coaching staff. So, (the Maui Invitational) is great field with great coaches, and it's a great opportunity. Hopefully we can find out some good things about our team over the next few days."
Starting with the game at Long Beach State, this week in Maui continues a lengthy road trip for the Wildcats. The team left on Wednesday evening and won't return until Thanksgiving Day.
That makes eight days for K-State to grow together, bond as a team and prepare for the remainder of the 2014-15 season.
"It's a great opportunity to come together as a team, to learn about your team and face great competition," said Weber. "It's a great experience for the guys."
A great experience in a great place, Weber described the atmosphere provided at the Maui Invitational as second to none.
"It's great tournament," Weber explained. "The gym, the hotels, it's all right there. The fans are all right there. So it's kind of like a Final Four atmosphere because you're walking on the beach and there are all the hotels and you can tell who's staying where by their fans. Then they all walk to the game. You literally walk to the game right along the beach. It's just a cool atmosphere, a cool environment."
And as if the environment isn't enough, the competition at this year's Maui Invitational is top-notch as well.
"When you look at it, you have five teams that were in the NCAA last year, one in the NIT and Purdue wasn't in anything, but they're pretty good and have had a great run, then Chaminade, they beat Texas two years ago, so it's a good field," continued Weber. "It's got to be one of the top tournaments around."
Along with Purdue and Chaminade, this year's tournament features No. 2 Arizona, No. 16 San Diego State, BYU, Missouri and Pittsburgh.
The tournament's bracket is setup where, in order to win the tournament, a team must win every game. A win over Purdue today would put K-State in the championship bracket playing the winner of today's Missouri vs. Arizona game (4 p.m. on ESPN2) and would take place on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. However, with a loss today, and K-State would play the loser of the Missouri vs. Arizona game on Tuesday at 1 p.m. (ESPN2).
To view this year's brackets, click here.