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Wildcats Focused on Defense Heading into Home Doubleheader on Friday

November 17, 2017
By Corbin McGuire

K-State men's basketball head coach Bruce Weber brought it up before his team's 72-51 win over UMKC on Tuesday: Defense should be one of this team's strengths.

So far, it has been.

The Wildcats have allowed 96 combined points against American and UMKC, the fewest points given up by a K-State team in the first two games of the season since the 1981-82 season.

"I asked the guys, 'What's going to be the difference when we get into the league?'" Weber said. "I think one of the things it can be is defense, that we really lock down on people. That gives us a chance to win big games, close games."

Like anyone looking at the height-filled K-State women's roster, head coach Jeff Mittie can see the defensive potential of his team. There may be a long ways to reach it, but he said Monday's 81-60 win over Omaha was a step in the right direction.

"Omaha shot it in very well last game. I thought our effort was good, though," he said. "They just shot it very well, and we just have to do some things to disrupt that better. I think we made progress."

Both K-State teams look to display stronger defensive efforts in Bramlage Coliseum on Friday in a doubleheader of action. K-State's women host Florida A&M at 5:30 p.m., while the men take on UC Irvine at 8 p.m.

"We didn't feel like we guarded (UMKC) great," said K-State forward Mawdo Sallah, after his team limited UMKC to 26 percent shooting. "We still have stuff to work on but to hold to them that percentage shows that we play hard. That's our culture here."


Specifically, K-State's men have worked hard to revamp their 3-point defense. Prior to last season, the Wildcats had finished in the top-four of the conference in 3-point defense in three out of four years, including in 2015-16 when they led the Big 12.

Through two games this season, opponents are shooting 27.1 percent from beyond the arc against K-State.

"We've always taken a lot of pride in getting hands up on closeouts," Weber said, crediting his old boss and longtime Purdue head coach Gene Keady. "We've really emphasized it since the beginning, getting out on the shooters. We've worked on helping and getting to those shooters quickly. Hopefully it will be a factor as we continue."

On the women's side, their abundance of size should be a significant factor when the Wildcats' six newcomers — not including 6-foot-7 transfer Anastasia Tsybaeva, who is redshirting — get accustomed to the program's defensive expectations. Eight Wildcats who have played this season are listed at 6-foot or taller, including five at or above 6-foot-2. By average height, it's the tallest roster in the program's last 25 years.

"Our length has to come into play," Mittie said, "and I think our group is still learning how to utilize that."

Senior Shaelyn Martin said as soon as the newcomers understand rotations better, specifically how to do so quickly and under control, then positive results will follow.

"Once we get in sync with everybody rotating at the same time, we do have a lot of length this year and I think that will add to our deflections and steals," she said, "but that just really comes down to effort."

As for Friday's game against Florida A&M (0-2), Mittie said his team needs to be ready for a little more chaos.

"They'll be more off the dribble," he said. "There will be more one-on-one plays than we saw the other night."

To follow, the Wildcat men will take on UC Irvine (2-1), one of just 22 schools nationally to win at least 21 games each of the last five season. The Anteaters, who have won or shared the Big West regular-season title three out of the last four years, including the last two, are the preseason favorite to win the conference again this season.

"Irvine is very good," he said. "They really rebound the basketball well, use old-school post ups. Each game's a little different and that's good for us to go against different styles."



We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.


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