Jan. 15, 2013
This story appeared in Tuesday's edition of K-State Sports Extra
By Mark Janssen
Shane Southwell finally got his wish.
Seventy-five games into his three-year Kansas State career … finally … Southwell became the Wildcat of the moment.
“Since I came here, I’ve been waiting for a big-time pressure situation,” said Southwell of his heroics in Saturday’s 65-64 victory at West Virginia.
The Harlem, N.Y., native was involved in every big play in the final minutes of the game.
He netted a career-high of 17 points, which included a pivotal mid-range jumper, the game-winning free throws at the 21-second mark, plus had the block, followed by the rebound, on what could have been the Mountaineers’ game-winning shot.
“I’d say the free throws meant more because without them there wouldn’t have been a block at the end,” said Southwell. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the pressure, but I just tried to focus on my routine and make them.”
That routine was “… one dribble, look at the ball, look at the rim … and nothing but net.”
And then came the blocked shot.
“I know he liked to get a lot of body contact, so I just gave him a little room and used my body length on him,” said Southwell on his defensive strategy on the 6-foot-1 Gary Browne.
On the end of the game heroics, K-State coach Bruce Weber said, “In the huddle I said, ‘How do we win games?’ You get stops and people make plays. Shane made plays.”
It’s a given that Southwell’s play had been relatively steady, and definitely improved from his first two seasons when he was a 2.5-point per game scorer on 36 percent shooting, which included a chilly 25 percent from 3-point range.
Now in his junior season, he is contributing 7.2 points per game on 53 percent shooting overall and a blistering 48 percent from 3-point range, plus has a near two-to-one ratio in assists-to-turnovers. Part of Southwell’s success came in moving inside and sharing minutes at the power-forward with Nino Williams.
While he’s listed at 6-6, Southwell says, “I think I’m 6-7, but I’m still undersized for that position, for sure. It’s fine with me because it’s helping make the team win. It’s not where I’m accustomed to playing, but I think I’ve adjusted.”
But he did admit with a laugh, “I’m not going to lie to you. It’s tough in there. It takes a lot of fight, will and it takes a lot of stamina. It’s tiring to bang around on guys that are a lot bigger and stronger than you. For me, it comes down to using my quickness and my smarts.”
Against West Virginia, Southwell took 13 shots with 10 finding the center of the rim – 5-of-6 from the line and 5-of-7 from the floor – not to mention playing defense that not only included the blocked shot, but also seven pass deflections.
“We’re a team,” said senior Rodney McGruder. “Nino (Williams) stepped up big against Oklahoma State and now Shane stepped up. That’s what we’re all about. Each one of us doing what it takes to win.”
“Shane has played well at times, but now we need for him to do it consistently,” said Weber.
To that, Southwell added, “I’ve just started understanding what coach wants me to do, which is playing hard and being aggressive. Now I want to put a good second game together. I’ve never done that … have back-to-back good games.”
NEW GUYS ON THE BLOCK: K-State welcomed West Virginia to the Big 12 with a 65-64 loss this past Saturday, and will now try to do the same with TCU Wednesday night at 8 in a game that will be televised by ESPNU.
The Wildcats enter play atop the Big 12 standings with a 13-2 overall mark and 2-0 Big 12 record, while the Horned Frogs are at the bottom at 9-7, 0-3 with league losses to Texas Tech by nine, Oklahoma State by 18 and Baylor by 11.
While the W-L numbers favor K-State, it’s also true that TCU is 7-3 in its home arena this year.
“Teams just play at a higher level at home. They play off the crowd and they’re in their comfort zone,” said Weber. But he quickly adds, “Once the ball goes up and you start playing, you forget whether you’re at Morgantown (W.V.), or at TCU, or at Baylor. You just have to go play.”
On the road, Weber says that starts on defense: “Defense allows you to dominate at home and gives you a chance on the road.”
Unusual is the fact that TCU is last in the Big 12 in scoring this year averaging 55.2 points per game, but first in scoring defense allowing 55.3 points. They have scored 883 points and allowed 885 on their way to a 9-7 record.
“It’s a big game for us,” said Weber. “In all the games in this little mix it might be the most important because you always have that fear about how you’re ready mentally.”
COACHES SUPPORT CANCER: Kansas State basketball coaches Bruce Weber and Deb Patterson will host “A Coach’s Crusade” luncheon to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer on Jan. 22, at 11:30 a.m. at the Alumni Center. The cost is $25 per person, or $45 per couple. For tickets, contact Katie Lord at 785-438-5610 or via email at email@example.com.
The Wildcat coaches will be giving testimonials on what motivates them to coach, and give back to the community.
NEW TIP TIME: Kansas State has announced the start time for the Wildcats’ game with the Texas Longhorns on Jan. 30, has been moved to 7 p.m. It had been scheduled for an 8 p.m. start. The game will still be televised by ESPN2.
A limited number of single-game tickets are still available for the Texas game priced at $60 for chairback and cushion seats and $50 each for bench seating.
There are also a limited number of tickets for Saturday’s game with Oklahoma, the Feb. 18 game with West Virginia, the Feb. 25 game with Texas Tech and the March 5 game with TCU. These tickets 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 K-State Ticket Office located in Bramlage Coliseum.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.