Northern Colorado 60
Kansas State Wildcats 58
Coming off a season where Kansas State shared the Big 12 title with the Kansas Jayhawks, you would expect the season opening game would be an enjoyable one for the K-State fans gathering inside Bramlage Coliseum. Fans were eager with anticipation to see the new faces for the Wildcats after losing several important pieces from last year.
However, this game Friday night was not the old fashion opening game that you would normally like to see. Northern Colorado turned up the intensity in the second half and handed Bruce Weber his second career opening loss as a head coach, 60-58. The Wildcats seemed to play well at times but in the other segments of the game K-State looked a little sloppy. Things were especially unploished in the second half, with the offense turning it over at critical moment of the game.
Newcomers Wesley Iwundu, Marcus Foster, and Nigel Johnson did provide some brights spots for the Wildcats, when the freshman on your team can out score your veterans then you have a problem.
K-State will need to correct some of their mistakes in a hurry as Oral Roberts comes to Manhattan next Wednesday night. Another problem for K-State, and it has haunted them in the pass few season, is the free throw shooting. It will be a long season if the ‘Cats cannot make free throws.
What We Learned
#1 Youth and Inexperience: It is very early in the 2013-14 season for the Wildcats but we saw a little bit of everything from the experienced playmakers Will Spradling and Shane Southwell, to the young electrifying players Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu. At times during the game, the young Wildcats looked to be out of position against the Bears. Hopefully, more practice time will allow everyone to learn their on-the-court responsibilities.
#2 Lack Of Height: Sophomore forward/center DJ Johnson had a pretty decent game versus the Bears. With the effort he brings to the court game in, game out, he can easily go into double digits in rebounding. There is another problem - without Thomas Gipson, K-State will continue to struggle on the boards all season long if the front court cannot get any help. K-State was out hustled in the 2nd half by the Bears. In critical situations when K-State needed an extra possession the Wildcat defense could not deliver.
#3 Identity: Every team has an identity. The Wildcats will need to find theirs real quick or they will be in for a long season. If they have hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament, this year’s team, even though it is only just one game in, must show that they can play together in all kinds of situations. Tonight was an opportunity for the Wildcats to close the deal late but could not hold pull it off. Games like this make you learn, and grow along the way. The biggest test is how well K-State responds to a loss.