Marcus Foster remembers walking off the court and seeing Northern Colorado players yell with joy as it beat K-State in a shocking upset to open the 2013-14 season.
Now entering his second season in Manhattan, the high-scoring guard hopes to put those feelings to rest against Southern Utah in the 2014-15 season opener at 8:00 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.
“It is something I look back at and learn from,” sophomore guard Marcus Foster said. “It was tough for me because it was my first college game ever I felt I just could not do anything to help my team. It opened my eyes to see that this was what college basketball is like. I had to learn from it and get better for the next game.”
Joining key returning players such as Foster, sophomore forward Wesley Iwundu, senior forwards Thomas Gipson and Nino Williams, junior guard Justin Edwards and sophomore forward Brandon Bolden.
Both Edwards and Bolden sat through last season’s excruciating home opener and the junior guard said it was especially irritating not being able to be on the floor due to NCAA transfer policies.
“It was definitely irritating especially knowing how much we prepared for them,” Edwards said. “We were all excited to play that game and we ended up losing it. I think this year, hopefully, we do not come out too excited and come out with a win.”
Last Sunday, K-State had their first taste of playing under the lights with a crowd as it beat Washburn 68-56.
The Wildcats found themselves understaffed due to injuries. This led to some creative maneuvering by the coaching staff by way of trying some players at positions they had little to no experience at playing.
At Wednesday’s press conference, head coach Bruce Weber didn’t rule Williams, Iwundu or freshman forward Malek Harris out for tonight’s season opener, however, he said they would all need to show some improvement in practice before he would think about playing the trio.
Edwards, who is normally a guard, found himself having to play the forward position throughout the exhibition.
“I would say it was just difficult because I literally learned how to play the four position the day before the game,” Edwards said. “I am just not used to doing what the four position normally does. I learned as a guard I have to wait for screens from the bigs.”
Sophomore point guard Nigel Johnson also found himself having to play shooting guard, which left him out of position.
“I think we could have played a lot better,” Johnson said. “With that group of guys on the court, we didn’t get a lot of experience with them working together. We had a lot of injuries and we played pretty good with what we had. Justin (Edwards) and I were playing out of position.”
Foster stressed the importance of growing as a unit and not looking too far past tonight’s season opener.
“It is still early, we still have to figure things out right now,” Foster said. “We understand what it is going to take to be a good team. We have to keep focusing on our goals and what we want to do. The pieces will come together, we do not want to rush it.”
Following the season-opening loss, it was an upward climb for Weber’s squad and Foster said it’s time to reverse the memories.
“People forget about you when you lose that opening game,” Foster said. “It takes a lot to get the fans back and the media’s respect. You just have to start the season off with a tone of high expectations. We had the pieces to win that game last year, but this year we have the pieces to overcome adversity and win the game.”