Weber talks development, roles for K-state at Big 12 Media Day

Head coach Bruce Weber yells directions at his team during the second half of K-State's 81-75 loss to the Cyclones January 25, 2014, in Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

K-State men’s basketball head coach Bruce Weber remembers just one thing from biology class, but of course it has crept its way into his coaching methods – changing how he develops his team ahead of a highly-anticipated season.

“There’s a phrase in biology called osmosis, (which is the) seeping of a liquid through a membrane,” Weber said Wednesday at Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day in Kansas City, Missouri. “I want them to learn their role by osmosis, not by me taking a hammer and pounding it into them. If they just accept it, then it’s easier for them to take pride into it.”

It’s an odd combination, biology and basketball. Just take a look at the bigger picture, though, and it makes sense. K-State returns nine lettermen from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, including 70 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding. Transfers Justin Edwards and Brandon Bolden are eligible to play after sitting out a year, while junior college standout Stephen Hurt leads a group of five newcomers into the program.

“We probably have more players, or a similar number of players, where we can probably go two deep at each position,” Weber said.

Rather than tell players what they will do for this team, Weber hopes they’ll come into it on their own.

“Sometimes you make sly, little remarks (like), ‘Hey, you’re really rebounding well’ or ‘You’re really guarding well,'” Weber said. “Hopefully they start taking pride in that stuff and figure out what they’re going to do for the team because ‘this is what coach thinks,’ but we’ll see.”

K-State will start their 2014-15 campaign on Nov. 14 following an exhibition game against Washburn. That’s enough time for Weber to instill much of what he spoke about on Wednesday.

“Osmosis” might be a unique way to put it, but the message it brings is good news for K-State. Experience, height and a deep bench can all factor into what the Wildcats hope to be a successful regular season and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

“Obviously, we’re excited,” Weber said. “Last year probably half our team was new. We had five freshmen last year and some transfers, so it was a little tougher transition, especially coming off a year where we had a very, very experienced team when I arrived at K‑State. So now these guys are a year older. It makes it a little easier for us, obviously, with practice and just the preparing. Just feel like we have some good pieces.”

Big 12 Media Day notes

  • At least four coaches opened with comments about — surprise — the Kansas City Royals.

“I know everyone is excited about them Royals,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said.

  • Weber didn’t dish out too many compliments when it came to his new guard, Justin Edwards.

“I promise you one thing,” Weber said. “He will have some dunks that will get on ESPN.”

  • Georgia running back Todd Gurley’s suspension has reopened the discussion of memorabilia and autographs, and how universities and athletic programs handle it.

“We try to limit it (autographs) to one thing and for a child,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said.

  • Kansas has won 11-straight conference titles, but reaching 12 will be much more difficult this year, according to Self.

“There are a number of teams in our league with a legitimate chance to win it,” he said.

  • Former K-State head coach and current West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins surprised the media in attendance at the Sprint Center a by wearing vest and bow tie.

“It seems like the right thing to do,” Huggins said. “I want to keep you people guessing.”

  • Weber said it’s a “long shot” that fans will see D.J. Johnson this season.

“He hasn’t done anything since Kentucky,” Weber said, adding that the junior is still in a boot.

Johnson will likely receive a redshirt for the 2014-15 season.

  • Staying with injury talk, Weber said a big key for success will be minimizing bumps and bruises throughout the year.

“Keeping guys healthy … will be very important for us,” Weber said. “But it’s definitely much better than a year ago, where at times we had trouble — especially if we went on the road, we had trouble having five‑on‑five in practice. We just didn’t have enough people. Our walk‑ons had to play an instrumental role.”