Time to bear down as Wildcats try to avoid 1-5 start

Freshman guard Kamau Stokes takes a shot during the game against Coppin State University on Dec. 9, 2015 inside Bramlage Coliseum. Stokes brought in five assists in the game against Coppin State. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

It hasn’t been the start to the Big 12 slate that the Wildcats wanted, and it doesn’t seem to get much easier going forward.

K-State travels to Waco, Texas, today to take on Baylor at 7:15 p.m. inside the Ferrell Center. The Bears are tied for first in the conference at 4-1 and 14-3 overall.

After facing a 2-3 zone in a 13-point loss to the Cyclones, head coach Bruce Weber said he knows it may take some time for his young team to start playing at a high level against a zone defense.

“We have got to get shots inside, which should be a simple thing, but it’s hard,” Weber said. “This is a veteran league and we’ve got young guys, which means we have to learn the hard way and learn how to win.”

K-State is 11-6 overall and 1-4 in Big 12 play. All of the Wildcats’ losses, except the one to Texas, were against teams in the top 25, which is something Weber said he has noticed.

“Four of our six losses are to teams in the top 10 right now,” Weber said. “We are close, but that doesn’t get you anything. We have got to get some wins, but it’s not an easy way to learn. Every game is hard and every win is precious.”

Wildcat players have been shooting early in the morning and watching more film in an attempt to get some things going their way again.

“I’ve been watching Baylor, and we need to get better at zone offense, like where we need to attack it,” freshman guard Kamau Stokes said. “We need to move the ball better and find the open space, which will help us, but we’ve been shooting a lot so hopefully we can figure it out.”

Stokes, however, said he doesn’t feel there is any added pressure on the team, despite a slow start to conference play.

“We have been so close,” Stokes said. “It just means we need to finish the game out.”

Weber said the easiest way to beat the zone is to make shots. Baylor is eighth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage allowed, so this could be a key for K-State.

“Kansas took Baylor out of their zone by hitting shots, and if we do I’m sure we will see something different too,” Weber said. “I hope we are that effective that they have to go to something else.”

But zone might be something the team sees until it figures out how to solve some of its issues.

“Oklahoma State will play zone, West Virginia will press up and Mississippi will play zone too, so we will be seeing that for the next couple weeks,” Weber said. “We have to give a little bit more time to it and need to play easier, which is just a learning process.”