Tag Archives: Bruce Weber Kansas State

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.

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.”

Jeremy Jones decides to transfer

26 Jul

New head coach Bruce Weber indicated last week that he and senior point guard Jeremy Jones had been discussing whether Jones would continue on in Kansas State’s basketball program this season.

The coach announced today that the answer was no.

“Jeremy has decided to leave K-State,” Weber stated in a press release. “Over the past couple of weeks, he and I have had several discussions about his future, and he thinks this gives him the best chance to be successful.  I have known him for a long time, since he played his high school basketball in Chicago, so I wish all the best with his future plans.”

Jones grabbed the attention of fans when he scored 12 points in 14 minutes against Oklahoma on Jan. 14. His sweet shooting form made him an exciting player to watch, and one who many were hopeful could make a bigger impact this season after being sidelined by injury for part of last year.

It’s possible Jones decided to leave because he did not feel like he was a good fit for Weber’s system, or maybe he feels like he could get more playing time elsewhere. After all, guards Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez, Martavious Irving and Shane Southwell all got significantly more playing time than he did in 2011, and Weber has said that another guard, Omari Lawrence, whom former coach Frank Martin seldom used, has been the biggest positive surprise of the summer. With so much competition that apparently has a head start, it could be difficult for Jones to break into the rotation.

Of course there are other possible reasons Jones decided to transfer, but playing time usually seems to be a major consideration for many players.

Jones is the only player so far from last year’s team to depart instead of staying on under Weber.

Optimism is the Best Policy

2 Apr

Google "Kansas State basketball," and you will see the front page of the website dedicated to new coach Bruce Weber.

“Give me a chance.”

With that statement, Bruce Weber dared Kansas State fans to have some faith.

Weber began his coaching career back in 1979, so he has extensive experience in the business. In 2003 he had the difficult distinction of being Bill Self’s replacement, so this move to Kansas State will not be the first time Weber walks into a situation where many fans really wish the last coach was still there.

Widespread disappointment about the departure of Frank Martin is ironic in a sense, considering many fans were rather unhappy when the Wildcats made a head coach of the unproven coach five years ago.

If anything, Martin’s success should be a reason for fans to support Weber, at least until he gives them a reason to do otherwise. Another example of unexpected success has to be Frank Haith at Missouri; many were skeptical of him, and the Tigers went on to win the Big 12 tournament.

I understand being upset when a team is not winning, but no games have been played yet with Weber at the helm, so he should have a window of several months before any legitimate complaining by fans can occur.

Certainly it is a possible that Weber will be a flop. Maybe players will leave. Maybe he will not be able to recruit. Maybe the team will lose a dozen games or more.

On the other hand, maybe Weber will be a breath of fresh air after Martin. I will not say one is better than the other; I do not know either well enough to make any declarations on that. What is clear is that the two of them have vastly different styles. Their personalities are different. Maybe Weber’s personality facilitates better interaction and communication between coaches and players this season. Maybe that change translates into more wins than anyone would expect.

All I am saying is this: “I told you so!” is much more fun when the outcome you guessed was positive rather than negative.

Before last football season, I predicted eight wins. Obviously I undershot; the Wildcats won 10 games and went to the Cotton Bowl. However, other media members and fans were saying that seven wins would be optimistic; six would be realistic; and eight, well, that was the stuff of dreams. See how that season turned out? It was beyond the stuff of dreams, and it was pretty darn incredible.


Negativity is more interesting. It is more sensational. It draws more hits for a website, more views for a video. It sells.

What do you gain by being negative?

What do you lose by being positive?

Which sounds like the better choice to you?

Bruce Weber: History, Reactions, Updates, Etc.

2 Apr

About a dozen students gathered on the lawn of Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to protest Kansas State’s hiring of Bruce Weber as the next head basketball coach.

One student held a sign that read, “Why you do hate us John Currie?”

Others sported purple headbands inscribed, “Gott Lieb?” – an endorsement of ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb as a candidate and a play on the popular “Got Milk?” advertising campaign. Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State basketball player, expressed interest in the head coaching position to newspapers and radio stations, and even though he has no coaching experience, his thorough plan and salesmanship intrigued fans.

Not shockingly, the administration hired someone with more of a history: Weber, a smiling, gray-haired gentleman many remember for taking Illinois to the national championship in 2005 but whose most recent team finished with just six wins in the Big 10 this season. Which type of results will Weber produce for the Wildcats is an intriguing question.


The initial response from fans has not been particularly optimistic, but few people could have replaced as popular and successful a coach as Frank Martin – and most of those coaches show no signs of being available for hire.

Weber is not daunted, however. His priority is winning over the players. He spoke with both 1350AM in Manhattan and 810 WHB in Kansas City about building relationships with one set of people whose opinions matter most.

“The big key is that I get them to trust me and respect me and buy into it,” Weber said. “If you can get your best player to buy in and be your best leader and hardest worker, it makes it so much easier for you as a coach.”

After talking to next year’s seniors Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez, Weber also had conversations with this season’s freshmen. He noted the importance of Angel Rodriguez, who played point guard for Kansas State much of last season. With such conversations, the coach said he makes his pitch but does not press for a commitment.

“I don’t bring it up, to be honest,” Weber said. “I just say, ‘This is what we’re about. We want you here.’”

At this point, he believes all the players will stay. He has done individual workouts with everyone except McGruder and Rodriguez, who will be unable to practice for two to three weeks because of injuries. Because getting to know players is one of Weber’s top priorities, changing public perception is on the back burner.

“I realize I can’t win all the fans over,” Weber said. “I have to do it with a good product, and that starts with the players. That’s the most important thing.”

Asked about previous problems within the program under Martin, Weber responded with the proper amount of ambiguity and proceeded to compliment his predecessor.

“He did them his way – sometimes it isn’t always the most positive thing,” he said. “He created a culture of toughness and defense, and hopefully we can play off that.”


The other priority of Weber in this time is putting together a coaching staff. Weber said he invited Martin’s associate head coach Brad Underwood to stay at Kansas State as part of the new staff, but Underwood told him Saturday morning that he thought he would be going with Martin to South Carolina. Weber said Underwood gave him insight regarding the program and the players, and Weber left the door open in case Underwood had a change of heart.

Weber has said he is working to finalize a deal with Chris Lowery, who coached under Weber at Southern Illinois and followed him to Illinois before returning to become the head coach for Southern Illinois, where he led the program for eight seasons before being fired after the Salukis went 8-23 in 2011-12.


Weber has been in the business for 33 years. His first gig as an assistant, at Western Kentucky, came in 1979-80. For the next 18 seasons he worked as an assistant at Purdue.

In Weber’s first year as a head coach at Southern Illinois, the team went 15-12 and tied for a fifth-place conference finish. In his fifth and final season there, Weber guided the team to a 24-7 record and first-place finish in its league.

Replacing Bill Self at Illinois, Weber coached nine seasons there. In seven of those, the team won at least 20 games.

The Fighting Illini struggled in 2011-2012, going 17-15 and 6-12 in league play to finish tied for ninth in the conference. Weber cited the team’s youth (six freshman, one returning starter) as well as changes in the administration (new university president, new athletic director) as potential reasons for the season that was his second-worst in nine years at Illinois and resulted in the termination of his contract there.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Weber said. “You learn a lot about yourself, and you learn a lot about who your friends are. So many people have reached out to myself and my wife … and just said how much they appreciate and respect and believe in what [we’ve] done.”

As for what he learned from his time at Illinois – and presumably this last season in particular – Weber said that trying to please everybody is impossible, so there is only one manner in which to proceed.

“Do it your way,” Weber said. “And that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Players, Weber look forward to getting in the gym together

31 Mar

Martavious Irving is not particularly worried about those who criticize the hire of Bruce Weber as Kansas State’s new head basketball coach. The senior-to-be is just waiting for the season.

“Once we start winning, I don’t think it’ll be a problem anymore,” Irving said.

Illinois, where Weber coached from 2003 to 2012, finished ninth in the Big 10 conference last season and ended the year on a 2-12 slide. Weber attributed the struggles there to a young team – “six freshman and one returning starter” – and the disheartening effect of one close loss after another.

Point guard Will Spradling seems to be buying into the coach’s potential.

“He’s got four championships; he’s got two Big 10 championships and two Missouri Valley championships … he’s a winner,” Spradling said. “Last year he might have just had a rough year. Everybody kind of has those years. I’m excited to have him as a coach.”

As is obvious from those comments, Spradling will not be transferring, as some reports had previously indicated. While it sounds like he considered leaving, and although he said “it helped a little bit” that Frank Martin is no longer the coach, Spradling said he thought he would have stayed at Kansas State regardless.

“I needed to just think about the season and about what I needed to do to improve, but I never really felt like I wanted to leave Manhattan at all,” Spradling said. “I love K-State. This is where I want to be.”

Like Irving, Jordan Henriquez will be sticking around for his senior year. By his account, Weber made a positive first impression.

“Just by him speaking to us, speaking to me, I know he’s a great guy,” Henriquez said. “Just watching him as I was growing up, a Final Four team, I know he’s a great coach.”

Players will work out with the new coach for the first time on Monday. Weber said he looks forward to getting to know the players and see how he can help them improve. How those initial interactions play out will likely determine how many players stay and how many will go.

“First thing, I met with them as a team and tomorrow I will meet with them as individuals and we will get on the court on Monday,” Weber said. “Slowly but surely the way to develop a relationship is one-on-one. You communicate and talk with them to show them that you care … and get to know them as a player and as a student.”

Building trust is important for Weber, but he hopes to have at least one staff member who already has the players’ trust. He said he wanted to retain at least one current Kansas State assistant coach who knows the lay of the land and has existing relationships with players.

“I have done that before when I went to Southern Illinois; I kept the Rodney Watson. When I went to Illinois I kept Wayne McClain,” Weber said. “They stayed the whole time while I was there and both are great friends and people that have become very good coaches. I think that is a possibility, and hopefully I have a chance to sit down with them whether it is Brad (Underwood) or any other former players.”

In the meantime, the players appreciate the speed with which the administration conducted and completed the coaching search.

“It’s better than sitting around for a bunch of weeks where we’re not doing anything,” Spradling said. “It’s nice to know that we get to go into the gym and work out with the coach on Monday instead of going out and working out on our own because it’s not the same.”

Money Money Money: Coach’s New Contract

31 Mar

Bruce Weber will be paid $1.5 million for the 2012-13 season, and his yearly salary will increase by $100,000 each year he stays with the Wildcats. If Weber is still in Manhattan through 2016-17, he will make $1.9 million that year. If he coaches through the duration of his contract, he will accumulate $8.5 million in base salary over five years.

Go through the list of bonuses he can attain, though, and it appears the total amount is likely to be much higher than that.

Weber’s contract offers myriad financial incentives based on the academic and on-floor performance of the basketball team. Below is the list of bonuses he could incur based on whether the following scenarios take place next year:

  • If KSU gets an NIT bid or goes at least 10-8 in Big 12 play —> $60,000
  • If KSU gets an NCAA bid —> $120,000
  • If KSU gets a Top 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament —> $180,000
  • If KSU reaches the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament or wins the Big 12 championship (regular season or tournament) —> $240,000
  • If KSU reaches the Elite Eight —> $300,000
  • If KSU reaches the Final Four —> $360,000
  • If KSU has a Top 10 ranking in the AP or USA Today final poll —> $420,000
  • If KSU wins the National Championship —> $480,000

Basically, there are eight levels of achievement, and Weber will receive an increasing percentage of his $1.5 million salary  as a bonus based on what the team does. For example, if the Wildcats go 10-8 in the Big 12 or go to the NIT Weber gets a 4% bonus, if the team gets an NCAA bid he gets an 8% bonus, etc..

Alas, the percentages are not cumulative, but there is definitely potential for some major additional money for Weber. If Kansas State achieves at the level it did this season, Weber would earn $1,620,000 in his first year.

Since Weber’s salary increases each year he coaches here, his bonuses increase also, since they are calculated as percentages of his salary. He can also earn bonuses based on the academic performance of the team and whether he is selected for coach of the year awards.

If Kansas State wins the Big 12 tournament, gets a 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, or gets to the Sweet 16, Weber will have the opportunity to renegotiate his contract. He could also do that if he is named the Big 12 or National Coach of the Year.

One last note: Weber’s contract is technically 5 years and 29 days – from April 2, 2012 to April 30, 2017.