Oct. 22, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Head coach Bruce Weber, along with seniors Shane Southwell and Will Spradling and junior Thomas Gipson, met with regional and national media on Tuesday at the annual Big 12 Media Day held at the Sprint Center.
Below is a transcript of Weber's press conference.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Kansas State Coach Weber. Coach, welcome, and your opening comments?
COACH WEBER: Well, it's a year into my tenure at Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas. It was great to be part of a magical year at K State. Three Big 12 Championships. Football, watched Coach Snyder work his magic, and obviously for us to get a piece of the championship, the first in 36 years and then baseball to follow that up and win it, so it was fun. It's been exciting. We're looking forward to this year.
We lost some key members, there is no doubt. Rodney McGruder, one of the all time greats in K State history. Jordan Henriquez gave us a great backstop to our defense. And Martavious was rock solid for us.
The key for us to be competitive in the league, there is no doubt our older guys have to be consistent, starting with our seniors, Will Spradling, Shane Southwell, Omari Lawrence, Ryan Schultz, they have to be there every day. They have to be great leaders. You look at last year, we had experienced guys, Kansas had experienced guys. It makes it so much easier on a coach. So those guys along with Thomas Gipson. I think has lost 30 pounds, has a chance to be one of the better big guys in the league. They are consistent, and that helps our freshmen. We have some talented freshmen. We're excited about them, but they are freshmen. Every day is new to them. If we get consistent play out of the older guys, it will make it a lot easier on me, and a lot easier on the freshmen. But we're looking forward to an exciting year. It should be fun. I think a lot of question marks throughout Big 12. Obviously, Oklahoma State has pretty much everyone back. But if you look at all the other teams, there are some question marks who is going to fill this hole or take that role on. That will be a key to who is competing for those top spots in the league.
Q. Coach, Will Spradling has always been a guy that's tried to get out of the ball and take a charge. Do you think with these new rule changes that could be tougher for him, and just your thoughts on the new rule changes?
COACH WEBER: There is no doubt. Almost every day Will takes a charge we're like: Go back and watch. Is it going to be a charge with the new rules? And we had a scrimmage the other day. And I talked to Curtis in between after he talked that that's going to be the toughest thing when there is a guy making a move to go to a shooting position, and is the guy there? It's almost impossible to watch.
So they're going to go from what we understand, they're going to go on the side of the offensive player and our guy has to do a good job of we can't get any little fouls. We need Will in the game, so he's going to have to be careful about taking those charges.
The whole rule thing, we went through the scrimmage. It was interesting. There were a lot of fouls in the first half. I think our guys adjusted as we went on in the game. That's what Curtis has talked about. It's going to be important. But the key thing, and I talked about our guys being consistent. I think the key will be all of the officials being consistent. Not only from one official to the next, but from one game to the next, from one league to the next, in and out of the different leagues. I think that's where that's going to be so important because otherwise the guys won't know what to do. Can we guard them, can we not? It will be interesting to see how it all evolves.
Q. If you would, could you talk about the upcoming Puerto Rico tipoff specifically, and how you keep the guys focused and not let them get distracted by all the island has to offer?
COACH WEBER: It's a great opportunity for our guys, one, to go on a trip like that, the warm weather, the beaches, all those things you talked about. But the field is really a special field. I haven't looked at all the tournaments around the country. But it's got to be one of the best. When you talk about Michigan, runner up, NCAA champion, Georgetown, Big East champion, VCU, Florida State. I think every team in it, except for Florida State, had 20 or more wins. So if our guys aren't focused by that we've talked about it since the beginning, that's going to be a big part of our non conference season, and you can establish yourself there. Now, we will stay an extra day. It just happens to end during Thanksgiving break, so I'll let them go to the beaches. We always try to do that. We want them to enjoy the experience. We'll do some kind of excursion with them. That is part of the whole educational process of going on these trips. But we wait until afterwards. During it we want to be focused. With so many new guys and so many freshmen, I think it will be a challenge to stay focused on the games and not be worried about what's out there, outside of the hotel.
Q. Being new last year you had to get your guys to buy in to your program. Could you talk about that transition?
COACH WEBER: Well, it was a lot was made of it. I think it was a lot easier. The beginning was hard because we had to re recruit everybody, from Rodney to Angel, whoever it might have been. Just one, selling yourself, selling your staff, your system. We really tried to be hands on, one on one with them as much as we could, be around them. I think slowly but surely they started to appreciate what we were about. Then the system, it was different, but it wasn't totally different. This year has been a lot tougher, to be honest, with so many new players. Last year everyone was new, but they were older guys. When I did a drill, I said we're going to do shell drill, they knew what shell drill was. Now the terminology and teaching points are different. Now I do shell drill and it might take 20 minutes because we have to stop so much with the new players. So I think the guys bought in. There was a key to it. There were a couple of little George Washington on the road was a big win. Florida obviously here right before the holidays was a huge confidence builder. Then opener in the Big 12, Oklahoma State, that was a high level game. To find a way to win that, Rod stepped up, those are kind of points in your season that all of a sudden the guys are, hey, this is all right. They're all right. They know what they're talking about. They come together as a team and we became a family. I think that was important for our success.
Q. As we've kind of followed the progress of the K State program the last few years, it seems there's been a go to guy established. It was Jacob Pullen and then Rodney McGruder. I wonder if there is an obvious successor now or go to the guy with the most experience? Is that going to be the case this year?
COACH WEBER: I hope it is. It's kind of the opening statement. If we're going to be successful, those guys got to be consistent. Early we're going to have to play well at the point pretty much most of the game. I'm not sure it will take away from his scoring a little bit, so that means Shane Southwell and Thomas Gipson have to be the guys that really step up. I think in the future, Marcus Foster can shoot and he can score the basketball. The young man, the freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas, he can score. Jevon Thomas is very, very talented also. But we're not going to get him till Christmas, so he's kind of out of our thoughts right now. But those two guys for the long term future will be special players for us. But right now we need those older guys to be there every day and give us consistent play.
Q. Is it fair to say that Marcus is the most ready to contribute right away?
COACH WEBER: Scoring wise, there's no doubt. He just is very dedicated. He's worked at his game. Jumps up and shoots the basketball very confident wise. The All Star games in Texas, he was the leading scorer in both of them. We had a scrimmage before the last football game. Right away, first shot of the game, boom, Marcus three. So he doesn't seem to hesitate. Some of the other guys, Wesley can give us some defensive. He's got long, athletic rebounds. Then Nigel gives us a little bit of quickness. I just think scoring wise, Marc is probably the one that's going to set himself apart from everybody else.
Q. You mentioned Angel. If you would, could you just talk about how you feel like the guys are handling the void left by a fellow who started 33 games last year, gave you a ton of minutes and was obviously a leader for this ballclub?
COACH WEBER: It was obviously disappointing, especially when it happened so late. Kind of people that have always been in it a long time, it's part of the modern era of college basketball, transfers. You look at the list and every year it grows and we set records. For our players, all we can worry about is what we can control. And that is who we had in the program. We were fortunate to have Will. He's played point guard. He's a four year guy. He really knows the game probably as well as anyone. He'll be a coach down the road, I've got to believe. Then we have some talented freshmen, but they are freshmen. Just like Angel went through the freshmen growing pains, these guys will go through it. So we're fortunate to have Will, and wish Angel the best. He's a great kid. He really bought in and did a great job for us. Just disappointing that we don't have him. But, again, you've got to control what you can control, and that is the guys in our program.