Wildcats ready to get back on hardwood

Junior forward Wesley Iwundu breaks for the basket unobstructed after intercepting an inbound pass from Iowas State forward Georges Niang, ready to make the game-winning dunk and to put the 'Cats up 70-69 in the final seconds of the Wildcats' knockoff of the #12-ranked Cyclones on Feb. 28, 2015, in Bramlage Coliseum. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

The words “inexperience” and “young” were said very often Thursday afternoon during a press conference for men’s basketball, which preceded today’s first practice of the season.

“We are going to have to have some of those guys step up, including the freshman,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We bring some experienced players back and we will be looking to them for leadership roles on this team.”

That includes junior Wesley Iwundu, who is slowly accepting his role as the guy with all eyes on him.

“There’s going to be a lot more expected out of me and so I need to show them the way,” Iwundu said. “Being more of a leader is nothing I can hide, but something I just need to do. It’s nothing out of my comfort zone, because I am very comfortable around these guys.”

Iwundu averaged six points, four rebounds and two assists per game last season. But when asked about what he expected out of himself this time around, there was no hesitation.

“A good stat line for me this year would be 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists,” Iwundu said. “I still have my game on defense too and I’m ready to guard the best player on the other team. Mainly, I’m just willing to do whatever will help this team to win.”

Weber also spoke about seniors Stephen Hurt, Justin Edwards and Brian Rohleder stepping up this season as well.

“We need the older guys to step up as leaders because they have the most experience,” Weber said. “They have to give their wisdom and their knowledge to our younger guys and really take another step for us.”

The Wildcats were without junior D.J. Johnson last season, which is something Weber said hurt the team.

“I think he is a big x-factor for us, because I think we would’ve won at least three more games last year if he’d been on the court,” Weber said. “His energy level and what he brings to the table is good for us. He isn’t 100 percent yet, but when you have had two surgeries and been out for 16 months we have to be careful.”

Weber also spoke about some other injuries that have plagued his team during the off-season.

“Carlbe (Ervin II) had a minor surgery and Dante (Williams) is finally getting ready to get out of the boot he’s been in as well,” Weber said. “The inexperience and injuries are the main things we are trying to get over right now.”

Last season, K-State was bounced by TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament after going 15-17 and 8-10 in conference play.

“We’re not even thinking about last year, especially with how well the summer went,” Weber said. “They are bringing good energy every day, but we need that to keep building and to playing hard for it to pay off.”

Weber said it may take a little while to see where everyone’s game is and a lot of that comes from seeing who competes in the first exhibitions and games.

There are some things that Weber said he and his team can control on the court, which they’ve been working on.

“We’ve talked about acting right, treating people right and playing the right way,” Weber said. “That’s what we can control every day and then we have to see what happens from there.”

K-State will take on Emporia State on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum for the first of two exhibition games before the regular season begins on Nov. 13.