Honestly, that went better than I expected. The Kansas State Wildcats start off their 2015-2016 campaign with a 80-42 victory over the Emporia State Hornets in an exhibition matchup in the Octagon of Doom. Like the team, I need to get warmed up and back into the swing of things, so we'll just take a look at some thoughts from the game.
- Wesley Iwundu and Justin Edwards are going to be a dynamic duo. Iwundu put up 17 points and a half-dozen assists, and was really doing what he pleased on the offensive end against his defender. Edwards still has his explosiveness, coming up with (I believe) 15, and chipping in on the rebounding end.
- Defensive rebounding looks to be a liability right now. Too many times we were just relying on standing under the bucket and jumping up to grab the ball. Even a decent rebounding or Big 12-type team will take advantage of that.
- Freshman Dean Wade is a ball player. Clearly the most fundamentally-sound player on the team, he showed he could do everything: shoot, pass, defend, rebound, even bring the ball up the floor. Mark it down - he will be an All-Big12 type player before his career is over.
- We're amazingly young, but deep and could have some hidden talent. Freshman Kamau Stokes got the start at the PG spot, but Barry Brown and transfer Carlbe Ervin II are essentially interchangeable. From what I saw, Stokes will continue to get the start, but all will see significant playing time. We even ran a 'small-ball' lineup, with Stokes, Ervin, Brown, Edwards, and Iwundu on the floor.
- Guys aren't in shape. That's a problem...players need to be doing their conditioning in the off season.
- Ron Freeman is an athlete. He only played a handful of minutes, but had a baseline dunk, a no-look assist, a mid-court steal and three or four rebounds. Appears to be a 'feast or famine' type player right now, but if he could develop consistency...
- Emporia State isn't a world beater by any means, but I was expecting a closer game. This K-State team has the ability and wherewithal to go on significant scoring runs, and showed that late in the first half when a couple of defensive stops seemingly turned into a 25-point lead.
- A huge difference from last year's squad - these guys look like they enjoy playing basketball. That alone is going to help us throughout the season. They're a little more intelligent - a little less reckless - with the basketball, and everyone seemed to be patient on offense, taking what the defense gives as opposed to forcing the issue. That led to a number of easy looks at the glass.