July 6, 2012
By Mark Janssen
"I've been blessed."
Those are the words from Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber when he addresses the basketball roster he inherits for his inaugural season in Manhattan.
"It's a bonus for me to get an older team," said Weber. "They know what the league is all about and what it takes to be successful in this league."
Weber added to that roster with the addition of Darrell Johnson (6-8) and Michael Orris (6-2) from the high school ranks.
Talent-wise, the Wildcat coach likes the additions, but he also says, "Those kids help in balancing the classes, which is vital for a successful program. We lost that balance at Illinois, which is why we ended up with six freshmen last year. It's hard to keep that many young kids happy."
With the two new additions, K-State's 2012-13 roster will include four seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
With the turn of the calendar to July, Weber's coaching staff can be out for the next three weekends, leaving town no earlier than Wednesday and returning by Sunday evening.
"This is going to be a big class for us because we'll be losing four of our better players," said Weber in reference to Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving and Jeremy Jones. "We'll have a nice foundation returning with Angel (Rodriguez), Thomas (Gipson), Adrian (Diaz), Will (Spradling) and Shane (Southwell), but the guys we'll be losing are proven scorers."
With that in mind, Weber said of the 2013 recruiting class, "Our priority will be a swing-man who can shoot and score, and then we need a face-up four-man. Thomas and Adrian are pretty good at the post and D.J. (Darrell Johnson) is a post rebounder, but it would be nice to have a guy who can face the basket."
Weber said his first preference would be to recruit the high school ranks, but he adds, "We don't want to depend on recruiting junior colleges, but if we can find the right guy to fill the right need, we won't hesitate. But they need to be ready to play because they have only two years left.
"Rodney had his freshman year to learn, then got better as a sophomore and continued to develop to where he was a major factor this past year," said Weber. "Community college kids don't have that kind of time."
COACHING ROSTER IS COMPLETE: For the most part, Weber stayed with those that he knew to build his first Wildcat coaching staff.
Chris Lowery coached with Weber at Illinois and Southern Illinois. Jimmy Price was Weber's strength and conditioning coach with the Illini. Brad Korn played for Weber at Southern Illinois and then spent the last six years as an assistant coach working with Lowery at SIU. And Chester Fraizer is a former player of Weber's. Only Alvin Brooks III of Sam Houston State comes to K-State as a newcomer to Weber's ways.
"You don't marry someone you don't know. You court them and get to know them before you marry them. It's the same way with a staff," said Weber. "It's only natural to be more comfortable when you know them and they know me.
"I know with Chris and myself, it's sort of magical," said Weber. "We don't have to say too much because he knows what I want done and how I want it done."
Plus, with familiar faces, Weber says, "You want guys who are loyal and who will have your back."
Weber indicated that precise job descriptions were still being decided, but said he wanted a "team" of coaches.
"It's just like a team of players. You can't have all shooters and they can't all be rebounders," said Weber. "We'll work with this staff and play to its strengths. I want the staff to complement each other so that all the bases are covered. What all of them will be are recruiters and individuals that have a good relationship with the players. Those are musts to have a successful program."
Laughing, Weber said, "Since Chris knows me better than the rest, I may depend on him to be the tough-guy coach, while the others will be the huggers - guys that will assure the players that things will be OK."
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 or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.