Lineup still fluid after second exhibition game

4 Nov

In the words of Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, the Sunday contest against Emporia State was a typical second exhibition game.

While Tuesday’s contest against Washburn had players excited just to play against people other than their own teammates, Sunday’s matchup arrived with less hype, and so the intensity level suffered.

“It’s one o’clock Sunday afternoon, 70 degrees, people are still hanging out from last night’s great football win,” Weber said. “You’ve got to create your own energy.”

That did not happen enough, especially early in the game. Both teams started slow, missing shots, until an 8-0 run by Emporia State gave the Hornets a 19-18 lead with five minutes to play in the first half. Weber called timeout and made some substitutions – including D.J. Johnson and Thomas Gipson in favor of starting forwards Jordan Henriquez and Adrian Diaz.

“I told them, ‘Hey, I’ll try not to sub you on each mistake, but you do two or three mistakes or you don’t give the effort you need, you give me no choice but to make that decision,'” Weber said.

After the timeout, the Wildcats reeled off nine straight points to take a 27-19 lead. That was just the first segment of Kansas State’s 20-4 run the team compiled before halftime.

“Jordan and AD had some easy shots; they just didn’t finish them, and then they didn’t rebound,” Weber said. “These guys came in, [and] we didn’t make those easy shots early with them in, but they got rebounds and made the second attempt, third attempt or got fouled. … I think it was positive how they reacted.”

As with most exhibition, non-conference games, the outcome was a function of play in the paint. The Wildcats snagged 51 rebounds to Emporia State’s 26. They scored 28 points inside to the Hornets’ 8. They earned 21 second-chance points to Emporia State’s 5.

By the end of the game – which got progressively more out of hand as the Wildcats dominated the boards – Johnson had scored a team-high 17 points with 9 rebounds, while Gipson added 12 and 5.

Weber said so far he has kept playing time fairly balanced to see how everyone plays so he can get a lineup set. The underlying message is that the starting rotation is not solid. Anybody has a chance.

“It’s not set,” Weber said. “It could change at halftime. We have competition. I hope they realize that. Our staff is trying to make sure they realize you’ve got to be zipped up and hooked up, ready to go every time. Otherwise, we’ve got somebody else who will take care of business for you.”


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