MANHATTAN — Bruce Weber is trying his best to be patient.
But as he watches Kansas State's nonconference opportunities slipping away, there also is an increasing sense of urgency.
At 5-3 following last Saturday's 73-65 home loss to Marquette, the Wildcats face another test this Saturday against Mississippi State at the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J. But first things first.
"I'm just worried about Alabama State, to be honest," Weber said following the Marquette game.
The Wildcats play host to the Hornets (1-7) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Bramlage Coliseum.
"We've got to get better on Monday and Tuesday and play better," Weber said. "Not just beat them, we've got to play better, so we feel good about ourselves. And execute and just one step at a time.
"Then we get on a plane to New Jersey, see if we can get after Mississippi State. Then we have a week of exams and see how we can do after that."
The Wildcats showed signs of life in the second half of the Marquette game, slicing a 13-point halftime deficit to one, only to falter again down the stretch in a 75-63 loss, their third in four games.
"I used those words, consistency, dependable and efficiency," Weber said. "That was back in August, and right now we're not consistent, we are not dependable and we are not efficient.
"And that's got to come over the course of time."
With the departure of senior leaders Barry Brown, Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes from last year's Big 12 championship teams, there have been growing pains. Junior point guard Cartier Diarra, who leads the team in assists with 6.6 a game and is second in scoring with an 11.8-point average, also preached patience after the Marquette loss.
"It's a long season. We're only eight games in, so we've still got time to develop," he said. "We've got a couple of young guys to get right.
"At the end of the day, we've just got to keep our confidence. We're not going to win every game. We know we lost this game and those other two games that we lost have been up to us, so we know what we need to do and we've got to move on and continue to get better every day."
In addition to fundamental improvements, especially on offense, Weber said he's looking for greater passion and leadership. Senior Xavier Sneed, who leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game, has been the most vocal leader so far.
"He wants to be a leader, but he needs help," Weber said of Sneed. "That's got to come from somebody else.
"Somebody else has to have a voice, emotion. We've got to have some emotion, and it's got to come from somebody beside me. I told them if I and the coaches have to bring the emotion every day in practice, we're in trouble. It's going to be a long season."
Weber praised freshmen Antonio Gordon and DaJuan Gordon for their energy level in the Marquette game and DaJuan Gordon said that should carry over to practice.
"I feel like if you don't play hard and with emotion, you're disrespecting the game of basketball," he said. "So I feel like I can come in every day and play my hardest and give emotion — good emotion."
Antonio Gordon, who has started four of the eight games at power forward, had eight points and three steals against Marquette, while DaJuan Gordon came off the bench to contribute 10 points, five rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes.
Diarra took issue with Weber's assertion that the Wildcats have a leadership void.
"I don't see that," he said. "I feel like this is really a great group of guys right here. We love each other to death (and) we want to win. Nobody wants to lose.
"We're more action than talking. We don't have to talk about it. I feel like everybody knows everybody's role and we're just trying to win."