K-State players say Weber has plenty of 'Frank'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bruce Weber, no dummy, ripped a page out of Bill Snyder's playbookSaturday night.
"Who won the football game?" the Kansas State men's basketball coach texted his players after Snyder's Wildcats had scored a stunning 24-19 victory at Oklahoma.
"Kansas State," his players replied.
"Why?" Weber texted back. "Because they took care of the ball, and the other team didn't."
"It's a little more exaggerated in football because of field position," Weber recalled Tuesday night in Overland Park, Kan., before addressing a local booster group. "But it's a big stat, and it's something we've got to deal with."
Here's why: Last winter's edition of the Wildcats posted an 11-10 markafter Jan. 4. In games during which they tallied more or the same amount of assists as turnovers, their record was 8-3 — or a .727 winning percentage. The contests in which they racked up more turnovers than assists? Three wins and seven losses, or a .300 clip.
In other words, when K-State takes care of the rock, it's a beast in high-tops. When it doesn't, it's the Washington Generals.
Weber didn't have to be here long to figure out that one. Or to start drilling it into the Wildcats' heads.
"The honeymoon was over a long time ago," guard Martavious Irving said of his new coach. "It ended a long time ago, I know that. Bruce has showed a few moments that he's got some Frank (Martin) in him."
Wait. Our Bruce?
"Oh, Bruce gets after it," Irving continued.
The alleged antidote to the eye-popping, vein-bulging act of Martin, his immediate predecessor?
"I don't want anybody to think he's some quiet coach," Irving said. "He gets after it. But one of the biggest differences (from Martin), is that Bruce is probably more hands on, as far as working on skill work, things of that nature."
Little things. Detail things. Valuing the basketball. Milking the motion offense until you've got the best shot. Playing defense, chest to chest, for 94 feet.
"He's not laid-back," forward Nino Williams allowed. "He's got a different style of coaching. He doesn't yell as much, he doesn't scream as much. He kind of, like, talks to you and teaches you more."
Weber knows the drill: Teams undergoing a regime change can have a notoriously fragile psyche, especially when the personality of the previous coach is as ingrained into the woodwork as Martin's was in Manhattan.
Trust isn't granted unconditionally. It has to be built. And it has to be built as a two-way street.
"How do you do that?" Weber asked. "You've got to be 1-on-1, you've got to be around them. They've got to get to know you and you've got to give them something to latch on to.
"That's where the (August) trip (to Brazil) really helped us. We treated them well, we got to hang out with them, be around them, and so I hope that trust factor (developed). Now that trust factor, basketball-wise, that'll have to come as we get into the season."
While in Rio, Weber's men tossed their bodies at the surf and their elbows at a few of the area's professional squads. It was an eye-opening and occasionally humbling trip that featured Weber getting ejected from one contest after arguing with officials.
"I think it surprised a few of us," Irving said."Because he's not as big as Frank, not as tall as Frank. We were like, ‘He might not have it in him.' But he has it in him.'"
And there's plenty more where that came from. Hurricane Bruce is just getting warmed up.
"The players kind of teased me (Tuesday)," Weber said. "Right now, I'm doing one workout a week with them and they kind of laughed and said, ‘It's good to see you again.' And I said, ‘Well, you'll see me enough in October … you'll probably (be) happy I'm not around then. You'll get what you wished for.'
"It's exciting. I texted them last Friday night. I said, ‘(We start) three weeks from Friday night and (we're) seven weeks from your first game.'"
The Wildcats got the text. Whether they got the message, we'll know soon enough.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org