Bruceketball Begins

10 Nov

New Kansas State coach Bruce Weber now has three games at Bramlage Coliseum under his belt. Friday night’s 85-52 win over North Dakota was the first official game for him at the helm.

You can read my full recap of that game here, but at the moment I just want to run down a few observations of the team to this point.

1. Kansas State has the makings of an excellent frontcourt. In Thomas Gipson and freshman D.J. Johnson, the Wildcats have strong, powerful guys who have an advantage securing position for rebounds and who can dominate in the paint with their back-to-the-basket moves. In Jordan Henriquez and Adrian Diaz, the Wildcats also have lean, long guys whose presence dissuades teams from even coming in the paint because they can so easily block such shots. Because of their height they are difficult to guard around the basket, and Henriquez has been working on a hook shot that makes him dangerous further away from the hoop too. Those four are going to present a unique challenge for Kansas State’s opponents this year.

2. The play of Angel Rodriguez is going to be so important to this team. The Wildcats could not open up a double-digit lead over North Dakota during the entire first half, much of which Rodriguez was sitting because of foul trouble. When Rodriguez returned after the break, he drained consecutive 3-pointers and slithered through the paint for a layup. Eight straight points. That sequence gave Kansas State momentum and turned the tide of the game. Weber said yesterday that the team goes as the guards go, and Rodriguez is obviously a huge part of that. He has all kinds of potential, but harnessing it consistently is easier said than done. Whether he is able to do so will determine how good these Wildcats can be.

3. The production of Nino Williams has been fascinating to watch. After hardly getting any time under former coach Frank Martin, he looked fantastic in both exhibition games, and he earned his first career start on Friday night against North Dakota. He promptly scored the team’s first points, and he snagged five rebounds as well. Williams may not start throughout the season, but he provides a nice jolt of energy for the Wildcats, so even if he comes off the bench, you can expect him to have a significant role this year.

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