MANHATTAN — Kansas State’s trip to the Las Vegas Invitational didn’t go as well as the Wildcats hoped it would, but Bruce Weber thinks it was a good experience.
K-State lost a back-and-forth thriller against Arizona State 92-90 and then defeated George Washington 67-59 to take third place. Those games revealed a lot about the makeup of this basketball roster, and Weber mostly liked what he saw.
“We figured out we are a good team,” Weber said Tuesday. “I think the key for our progress will be: Our experienced guys have to be consistent, and we have to continue to develop the younger guys.”
The Wildcats got solid production out of their starters last week. Barry Brown scored 27 points against Arizona State and followed that up with 15 against George Washington. Kamau Stokes scored 23 in both games. K-State should have one of the best backcourts in the Big 12 this season.
Dean Wade had 17 points and nine rebounds against George Washington, Xavier Sneed did a little bit of everything in both games and Makol Mawien had his moments.
But the bench could have done more. Outside of Amaad Wainright (nine points) and Cartier Diarra (four points) against Arizona State, K-State’s reserves went scoreless for the tournament.
Weber noted that Diarra got off to a great start against Arizona State, but seemed to lose confidence after losing some turnovers. The same thing happened to Brian Patrick after he missed a few outside shots. Mawdo Sallah needs to grab more rebounds and Levi Stockard needs to learn the system.
With that in mind, Weber is using a one-word theme in practice this week leading up to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. tip against Oral Roberts at Bramlage Coliseum — improve.
“We feel good about all the guys, but we need to take the next step,” Weber said. “My big thing this week has been about improving. How are you going to improve? That’s what I have been stressing with every player.”
The Wildcats should be able to experiment with a few things against Oral Roberts, which has lost six straight games since opening the season with a win over a NAIA opponent.
Then it’s off to Vanderbilt on Sunday for another challenge. K-State hopes to build off what it learned in Las Vegas before then.
“It was a good experience,” Weber said. “Obviously, we would have liked to win. It would have been nice to have our best guys in the game and not have any foul problems (against Arizona State), but every game is different. You learn from it and move on.”