Wildcats begin life in the post‐Martin era, Weber takes over after nine seasons at Illinois

Less than a week after former head coach Frank Martin left the K‐State men’s basketball program to become the head coach at the University of South Carolina, K‐State athletics director John Currie has filled the head coaching vacancy as former Illinois’ head coach. Bruce Weber was introduced at a press conference in the Legends Room of Bramalage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

“I could not be more excited about the opportunity that has presented itself here at K-State,” said Weber. “I’m happy to come to a place that has great tradition. When I’ve talked with people over the last couple of weeks, the main thing they emphasize to me – my mentors and peers — that I just don’t take any job. So I’m very fortunate to take a job where there is already something built. Frank has created a positive culture, along with Bob Huggins. It makes it easier as a coach when you go to a place that has tradition. You understand you don’t have to recreate, you don’t have to re-energize and, obviously, there’s some pretty good players here that have had success in both the Big 12 and even in the NCAA Tournament. This is a tremendous job for me.”

Sporting a purple tie, Weber addressed K‐State media members as well as several players for the first time publicly as the head coach of the Wildcats.

“It’s a true honor to be here and be named the head basketball coach at such an institution,” said Weber after being introduced by Currie. “Why K‐State? To me, it’s first tradition. You cannot go to a program if it hasn’t been successful, and continue that success. Now we have to continue that tradition.”

Weber takes over after being fired from Illinois after nine seasons as the head coach for the Fighting Illini. In his time at Illinois, Weber posted an overall record of 210‐101, including a NCAA championship game appearance in 2005.

During that 2004‐05 season, Weber coached the Fighting Illini to the best record in school history, finishing 37‐2, tying the NCAA record for most wins in a season. Weber won several coaching awards that season including the Naismith College Coach of the Year, Associated Press National Coach of the Year, and the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

Under Weber this season, the Fighting Illini finished 17‐15 overall and 6‐12 in the Big Ten conference but went only 2‐12 in the team’s final 14 games. In the past six seasons, however, Weber’s teams were just 55‐66 in Big Ten play.

Prior to his nine‐year stint with Illinois, Weber was the head coach at Southern Illinois, where he went 103‐54 in five seasons, including two NCAA tournament appearances, one of which resulted in a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 2001‐02 season.

Next season’s home opener won’t be the first time Weber has coached in Bramlage Coliseum, however, as Weber was at Purdue as an assistant coach and coached against the Wildcats in the first game K‐State ever played in Bramlage Coliseum on November 26, 1988.

“I was here the first game, opening day, at Bramlage Coliseum,” said Weber. “81‐77. The officials were horrible and we lost. From that day on, great student section, great fan support, and also great facilities. You have a basis of tradition, you have the basis of a team that has a chance to be successful, you have the fan support, you have the facilities, and you have a great league. The Big 12 is here, and it’s going to be here for a long time. It has tremendous tradition and reputation. It’s a no brainer for me, to come and be the coach at K‐State and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Currie, in his first hiring opportunity of a head coach at K‐State, has faced much pressure from K‐State fans on social media outlets such as Twitter to hire a “home‐run” of a coach.

“If anybody’s upset, be upset at John Currie,” said Currie. “All K‐Staters should get behind our head basketball coach, because he (Weber) is our head basketball coach.”

K-State gears up to host Big 12 championship

After a regular season that featured only three home competitions for the K-State equestrian squad, the Wildcats, who are 5-7 this year, will kick off the Big 12 Conference postseason by hosting the Big 12 Championships on Friday and Saturday at Timber Creek Stables. The Wildcats are slated to face Oklahoma State on Friday, then will face either Texas A&M or Baylor on Saturday.

The Wildcats and the Cowboys split two matches this season, with both teams winning on the road. The Wildcats upended the Cowboys 12-10 last November, while the Cowboys exacted their revenge on Mar. 17 with an 11-9 win at Timber Creek Stables.

“Our team wants some redemption,” said K-State head coach Casie Lisabeth. “We are out to get them. Our team will get hyped up and perform their best.”

Although the Wildcats have a losing record this season and haven’t won a match since a Jan. 28 victory over New Mexico State, Lisabeth is confident that her team is ready for the postseason.

“We are progressing at the right point in the season,” Lisabeth said. “The regular season is important for them to work out their kinks and to test their limits and to make mistakes. They do that, they test the waters and that reflects in the scores.”

One of the key advantages that the Wildcats will maintain is the ability to compete at home. Lisabeth hopes that the added comfort of riding in Manhattan will help keep the team honed in on its goal.

“We are riding at home, at an area we are comfortable with,” Lisabeth said. “We don’t want anything to distract us from doing our job.”

The Wildcats have lost three matches in a row, all of them to the other three Big 12 schools. However, Lisabeth hopes a more consistent approach will help the Wildcats be successful this weekend.

“Our goal is to be more consistent, don’t make the same mistakes twice, and we really are doing that,” Lisabeth said. “Now we are practicing them a lot harder.”

While there are advantages to hosting the match, there has also been an added workload to prepare Timber Creek Stables for the event.

“It’s a lot of work,” Lisabeth said. “We’ve been working on this since August and heavily since February. I’m really excited to have it here in Manhattan. It’s great for the town. But it does mean a lot of extra work. The team and the girls had to make the investment.”

This championship also marks the last time the Big 12 will host Texas A&M. The Aggies are slated to leave the Big 12 and join the Southeastern Conference after this semester. For Lisabeth, who is a decorated alumnus of the Aggies and whose sister is a senior rider for the Aggies, hosting them one last time will carry a special meaning.

“I came from Texas A&M, so it’s tough to see them leave,” Lisabeth said. “They’ve been a part of my life for the last 12 years. I’m excited to get Texas Christian University, though. We’ll still get to play Texas A&M in the future though even though they won’t be in our conference.”

K-State will come equipped with four riders recently named to the All-Big 12 Team. Juniors Sam Etsell and Larissa Laffey, competing in Reining and Equitation on the Flat, respectively, and sophomores Kelly Bovaird and Sarah Mershon, competing in Horsemanship and Equitation Over Fences, respectively, were the four named the All-Big 12 Honors.

Friday’s events will begin with opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. The Saturday matches will start at 10 a.m. Admission is free to the public.

Upcoming sports events

Friday, March 30:

Track and field at Texas Relays, 9:30 a.m. in Austin, Texas

Track and field at Jim Click Combined Events, 10:00 a.m. in Tuscon, Ariz.

Women’s tennis at Texas A&M, 6:00 p.m. at College Station, Texas

Men’s baseball at Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m. in Norman, Okla., listen 1350-AM KMAN

Women’s equestrian Big 12 Championships, All Day, Timber Creek Stables, Manhattan

Saturday, March 31,

Track and field at Texas Relays, 9:00 a.m. in Austin, Texas

Track and field at ESU Open, 12:00 p.m. Emporia, Kan.

Men’s baseball at Oklahoma, 2:00 p.m., Norman, Okla., KMAN-AM 1350

Women’s equestrian Big 12 Championship, Timber Creek Stables, Manhattan

Women’s rowing, San Diego Crew Classic, San Diego, Calif.

Sunday, April 1:

Women’s tennis at Texas, 12:00 p.m. in Austin, Texas

Men’s baseball at Oklahoma, 1:00 p.m. in Norman, Okla., on KMAN-AM 1350

Women’s rowing, San Diego Crew Classic, San Diego, Calif.

Tuesday, April 3:

Men’s baseball vs. Nebraska, 6:30 p.m., Tointon Family Stadium

Thursday, April 5:

Women’s tennis vs. Wichita State, 1:00 p.m., Manhattan

Men’s baseball vs. Sacred Heart, 6:30 p.m., Tointon Family Stadium

Friday, April 6:

Men’s baseball vs. Sacred Heart, 6:30 p.m., Tointon Family Stadium

Women’s golf at Ole Miss Rebel Intercollegiate, Ole Miss Golf Course, Oxford, Miss.

Track and field at Sun Angel Invitational, Tempe, Ariz.

Saturday, April 7:

Men’s baseball vs. Sacred Heart, 1:00 p.m., Tointon Family Stadium

Women’s golf at Ole Miss Rebel Intercollegiate, Ole Miss Golf Course, Oxford, Miss.

Women’s rowing vs. Kansas in Kansas City, Kan.

Track and field at ESU Relays, Emporia, Kan.

Track and field at Sun Angel Invitational, Tempe, Ariz.

Sunday, April 8:

Women’s golf at Ole Miss Rebel Intercollegiate, Ole Miss Golf Course, Oxford, Miss.

Monday, April 9:

Men’s golf at Wyoming Cowboy Classic, Talking Stick Golf Course, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tuesday, April 10:

Men’s golf at Wyoming Cowboy Classic, Talking Stick Golf Course, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Wednesday, April 11:

Men’s baseball at Missouri State, 6:00 p.m. in Springfield, Mo., on KMAN-AM 1350

Thursday, April 12:

Women’s equestrian at NCEA National Championships in Waco, Texas

Friday, April 13:

Women’s tennis at Iowa State, 2:00 p.m. in Ames, Iowa

Men’s baseball vs. Baylor at 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium

Women’s equestrian at NCEA National Championships in Waco, Texas

Saturday, April 14:

Men’s baseball vs. Baylor, 1:00 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium

Women’s equestrian at NCEA National Championships in Waco, Texas

Women’s golf at Indiana Invitational, Indiana Golf Course in Bloomington, Ind.

Track and field at UTEP Invitational in El Paso, Texas

Track and field at K.T. Woodman Classic in Wichita, Kan.

Sunday, April 15:

Women’s tennis at Missouri, 12:00 p.m. in Columbia, Mo.

Men’s baseball vs. Baylor, 1:00 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium

Women’s golf at Indiana Invitational, Indiana Golf Course in Bloomington, Ind.

 

-compiled by Kelly McHugh

Young rider enjoys major success

Sarah Mershon is one of the top riders for K-State. She made the final four in the Collegiate Equitation Challenge in Wellington, Fla., where she won two matches. She received the Wildcats’ Hunter Seat Workhorse Award last year for her work ethic.

She made the Big 12 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll in the spring of 2011 and expects to make it again this semester. She will be an All-American next season due to her outstanding performance this year.

And Mershon is only a sophomore.

“She’s exceptional,” said K-State head coach Casie Lisabeth. “She is such a key player, and it is good that she has developed so well so early in her career.”

Young stars are hard to come by, but Mershon has proven already that she is one of the top riders in the nation.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to make it this far in a collegiate sport this early,” Mershon said.

Mershon had one of the best performances of her career on Feb. 11, when she made the final four from a field of 16 riders at the College Equitation Challenge in Florida. She defeated riders from Delaware State and Fresno State before being ousted by Lisa Goldman of Baylor.

“I was pretty excited,” Mershon said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it that far as my first year. I’m a sophomore competing against upper-level girls. But it was an amazing experience being able to ride in that ring on those quality of horses.”

Mershon is a product of Flower Mound, Texas, which is a suburb of the Dallas and Fort Worth metropolitan area. Texas has a strong heritage of quality equestrian riders, and Mershon took full advantage of that at a young age.

“I don’t think it matters where you’re from, it’s who you’ve ridden with,” Mershon said. “I’ve had some great trainers in Texas; I’ve gotten most of my knowledge from there, so I love it.”

As a freshman, Mershon went 8-10. In her first week, she won the match MVP award against South Dakota State.

“I worked hard my freshman year because I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this,” Mershon said. “I knew I needed to work hard to prove myself so I could get somewhere, and it’s carried into this year.”

Mershon also maintains a 3.1 GPA and majors in accounting and finance. She hopes to one day start her own accounting firm after graduation.

“I love accounting,” Mershon said. “The numbers, the black and whiteness of it, the formulations – I really enjoy it.”

Her academic performance has proven to be a shining example for the team, and the staff relies on Mershon to be a leader.

“I don’t worry about her academically; she really takes care of herself,” Lisabeth said. “She’s a great role model.”

As Mershon still has two more years of eligibility, Lisabeth only expects her importance to the Wildcats to increase as she develops into one of the best riders in the country.

“I’m glad we’ve got two more years to use her,” Lisabeth said. “She’s such a key player and it’s good that she’s developed so well so early in her career. Now that she’s comfortable, I expect for it to get better and better.”

Team gains valuable experience

The women’s rowing team competed in Austin, Texas, March 16-18, participating in their second regatta of the season.

The Longhorn Invitational started with the Wildcats racing the Texas Longhorns in head-to-head sprints on Friday. Next, they competed against San Diego, Texas and Southern Methodist University on Saturday and finished up the weekend racing the University of Central Florida.

The Wildcats’ 1st Novice 8 came away with two wins against Texas as well as one over Central Florida and only one loss to Texas.

“We wanted to build off of what we did at the OU Invitational last week, changing lineups in 1st and 2nd Varsity 8s,” said head coach Patrick Sweeney. “The changes we made from the start of the weekend through to Sunday gained experience for the whole team and both Varsity 8s improved their times by roughly 10 seconds.”

The 1st Varsity 4 team ended the weekend with a 2-2 record, taking wins over San Diego and SMU. The Wildcats defeat SMU in all three head-to-head races battling with the 1V4, 1V8 and 2V8 crews.

“It was of course great to get the wins, but the more important thing to take away from the Longhorn for them is the good racing experience – eight races in 10 days,” Sweeney said of the novice crew. “The more comfortable they are learning how to get off the blocks and race a course competitively, the healthier the team’s future will be.”

The 1V8 crew had a tight race, with UCF falling behind by only 1.6 seconds and finishing with a time of 7:16.7, which was the boat’s fastest time of the weekend. Both of the varsity crews posted one win and three losses.

“What was really good to see, and the highlight of the weekend, was that when we changed lineups again for Saturday evening, our boats were able to come closer to the race pace required to be competitive against the more experienced crews,” Sweeney said. “And then by Sunday morning, keeping the lineups the same, the 1V8 and 2V8 showed marked improvement, hanging with their competition much closer. Not to mention the fact that our novices did well, too.”

At the end of the weekend, the women went 7-13 in all races.

Sweeney said the Wildcats competed against some of the top crews in the nation, so the Longhorn Invitational was a good test for his team. He said he expects to see more improvement after the solid performances of his crews in Austin.

This weekend, the women’s rowing team will head to the San Diego Crew Classic for two days to compete against top crews from around the nation. The 1st Varsity 8 crew qualified for the Sea World Cal Cup, the top collegiate race at the event, at last season’s Crew Classic. The crew went on to finish third in that final.

Film captures dreamlike style of ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’

It’s 1931 in Paris, and “I want you to picture yourself sitting in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie.”

And with that, the reader is drawn into the 2007 novel by Brian Selznick, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” which, adapted for film and directed by Martin Scorsese, was released in theaters November 2011.

In the movie, Hugo, played by Asa Butterfield, finds a companion, Isabelle, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, who provides a welcome respite from Hugo’s repetitive and tiny world within the train station. The result of a few unfortunate events, Hugo found himself living within the walls of an expansive Paris train station. At first, he lived with his rather drunken uncle, who tended to the numerous train station clocks, but eventually Hugo finds himself quite alone.

Alone, that is, save for the one character in the story who never speaks: the automaton. A clockwork and metal man with a rich past, the automaton provides a sense of purpose, hope and wonder for Hugo, who labors to repair the initially non-functional man. Simultaneously a mystery, a link to his clockmaker father and a catalyst for the delightfully intertwined events of the story, the automaton is, essentially, a symbol.

The son of a clockmaker, Hugo sees the world through the eyes of the most delicate of mechanics and perceives everything around him as one big machine. Looking out over the city from the vantage point of a clock tower, Hugo imagines the entire world as an enormous machine. And, as machines only include the pieces necessary to make them work, he, and everyone else in the world, must have a place and a purpose.

I won’t give anything away, but by the end of the novel, “the machinery of the world lined up” for Hugo.

Selznick’s book, an initially daunting 500 or so pages, resembles a movie reel or strip of film. Hardbound, the book’s black inner cover is complemented by black borders around every page and illustration, all drawn by Selznick, serving to draw the reader in while simultaneously evoking the feel of an old-fashioned movie.

The way the movie is filmed is somehow larger than life, an intentional choice, as a young Georges Melies, played by Ben Kingsley, says in a flashback, “If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from when you go to sleep at night, just look around. This is where they are made.”

This quote is especially appropriate as Melies, in reality, was a prolific filmmaker, making over 500 early science-fiction and fantasy-esque films. The film pioneer died in 1938, but his work and memory are still quite alive.

The novel’s movie feel is enhanced by the liberal use of drawings and pictures at various points in the story. After the book’s introduction, the reader is treated to several sketches of a Parisian cityscape, then, as the pages turn, a boy, then a train station. Although the pictures are drawn with a sketchy feel, they are intensely detailed and provide the reader with an almost snapshot-like view of the narration.

This stylistic choice is reflected in the movie through brilliant shot direction as the viewer is immersed in the richly saturated, almost dreamlike scenes of the film. However, due to the number of pictures without accompanying text and the lack of dialogue in some portions of the film, I found that I had to focus and link together precisely what was happening. I couldn’t just sit back and drink in the visuals in either format, although I wanted to.

One illustration in particular, of Hugo peeking through one of the numbers of a giant clock face, caught my eye in the film version; the attention to detail and snapshot effect are present in both formats, which seems integral to the overall feel of the storyline.

Although I first did not realize it, focused as I was on the richness and complexity of the scenes and how the book matched up to the movie, the film boasts a fairly star-studded cast. Although playing relatively minor characters who are somewhat atypical in light of their more well-known roles, these actors add a certain quirkiness to their characters. Sacha Baron Cohen, of “Borat” fame, plays the stiff, awkward Station Inspector, while Christopher Lee, better known as Saruman from “Lord of the Rings” or Count Dooku from “Star Wars,” plays the kindly bookseller, Monsieur Labisse. Jude Law rounds out the cast, making a brief appearance as Hugo’s father.

Despite the inevitable differences between the written and film versions, I give the book and movie combined five out of five stars for stylistic originality, beautiful imagery and the ability to engage both children and adults.

Kaylea Pallister will attend graduate school in fall 2012. Please send all comments to [email protected]