I'm well aware most of you don't really care about basketball right now with the football team on the brink of taking Kansas State football to new heights. I also know it's difficult to glean much of anything from two games against bad teams and one against the worst team to set foot in Bramlage Coliseum for quite some time. But I'm still going to try.
Because I'm still working hard to combat my initial skepticism and give Bruce Weber the benefit of the doubt, let's take a look at what's to like so far. There's a lot, and I think at least some of it gives good reason to hope for challenging games in the future, such as the Preseason NIT championship at Madison Square Garden next week.
The most obvious thing is that aside from perhaps 10 minutes of the North Dakota game, we didn't really have to sweat at all in three completely dominating Kansas State victories. It's a bit of a shame that this isn't just a given, but anyone who watched Frank Martin's games against North Florida, Charleston Southern, Presbyterian and many others knows exactly what I mean.*
*Martin set about continuing his old ways against an admittedly solid Milwaukee team in South Carolina's opener last weekend. The Gamecocks trailed by 15 at the half before rallying to win in overtime, and multiple players got public (but effective?) verbal lashings from Coach Martin.
Defensively, the 'Cats looked solid enough, holding North Dakota, Lamar and Huntsville to less than 30 percent from the field combined. You could probably say they got lazy at times, particularly in the second half against Lamar, but I think that was a function of the scoreboard more than anything else.
I'm going to withhold comment on a lot of things for now, including the motion offense, because there just wasn't enough resistance from anyone in the first three games to be able to tell much. The Fightin' Blue Hens of Delaware will undoubtedly be K-State's top opponents when the 'Cats face them in New York next week, and probably the first clear indicator of any issues this offense might have.
That being said, it does appear free throws could be a struggle again this season. Sigh. K-State shot just 64.5% from the line in the first week, with Jordan Henriquez doing JO things and making just 1 of 6.
Individually, the most pressing concern at the moment is clearly the slumping Rodney McGruder, who is shooting more like the old Shane Southwell (The Paradox is 5 of 8 from three this season!) from the outside right now at 1 of 10 for the first week. If Rod doesn't start heating up from the outside, it's very difficult to imagine Kansas State winning a title in New York, but we know from past experience he's capable of breaking out of slumps at any time.
I still have a lot of questions about Adrian Diaz inside, most revolving around his post moves, which don't seem to go much beyond a simple drop step when he's able to acquire that ideal position. Otherwise, he seems fairly useless on offense, and the fact that a 6-10 forward has only 10 rebounds in 45 minutes against smaller, inferior competition is mildly concerning.
Really, the same goes for Nino Williams, who does at least have a better jump shot. But Weber has been changing so much around with all of his different options on the interior, it's rather hard to tell at this point who is going to be most effective. We'll learn a lot more with this group when a regular rotation is established.
Even JO hasn't been quite the dominant force I'd like him to be, but he does seem to be a little bit above his teammates on both sides of the floor right now. If he can continue to extend his range on that unblockable hook shot and just the standard jumper, Big 12 teams should be very frightened.
That leads us to the perimeter, where Angel Rodriguez seems to be just toying with people right now and has an impressive 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's really good. I love that Will Spradling is shooting better, but he's probably been more closely guarded in shootarounds and his on-ball defense is still sketchy at best. I'm reserving judgment until he actually sees some real pressure when he has the ball.
The seeds have been planted for the Southwell breakout season I'm really hoping for, and Martavious Irving is still mostly maddening to watch, especially with his shot selection, but capable of doing some valuable things. If Omari Lawrence or especially Michael Orris see the floor in critical situations, it's probably going to be bad news for this team.
Finally, I'd like to send a special shout-out to North Texas for inexplicably losing to Huntsville and giving the Chargers a chance to get absolutely annihilated on national television. If K-State -- God forbid -- is one of the last two or three teams out on Selection Sunday, I will hunt you down, Tony Mitchell. 10 points on 4 field goal attempts in 31 minutes? Were you even trying?
After another likely blowout against North Florida prior to Sunday's BCS Countdown, next week's games should get a lot more interesting. I promise, football fans. A game against Michigan and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (makes you feel old, doesn't it?) might even warrant a preview.