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Scouting Report: How To Win At (and Beat) K-State Men's Basketball

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What should KSU be doing on offense? How would you attack K-State's defense? What are certain players' tendencies? Eric and Curtis Kitchen team up to take on some of these questions through a brief mid-season scouting report.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

At 10-2 through the non-conference basketball slate, Kansas State has done a passable job at putting a lot of new and unfamiliar pieces together. In the process, we've put together one of the better defenses in the country (#15 adjusted defensive efficiency, #3 3PFG% defense, #21 eFG% defense, and well above average in defensive TO% and defensive Steal%).

On the other end, we've seen a team that looks lost at times, doesn't move the ball that well, and doesn't shoot particularly well. Outside of a very good showing in offensive Reb% (#26) and getting to the line (FGA/FTA #36), a strong argument could be made that the Wildcats, ahem, suck, on offense. Sounds like some other recent relatively successful K-State teams, no?

So far this season, many of you have asked the tough questions: How would you prep for K-State? How is the Wildcat offense so ineffective? How do the Cats do such a good job limiting other teams on defense? What the hell is head coach Bruce Weber teaching these guys?

Why can't white and purple be our standard home and away uniforms, instead of the official grey and black kits? Eric and Curtis decided to try to answer a couple of these queries, showing just what K-State needs to do to win ballgames, and conversely, exactly how to beat #EMAW. Read on and you'll learn all about:

  • Each scoutable player's strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and how to play against them
  • K-State's offensive mindset, what they're trying to do, and how to throw the Cats off their game
  • What to expect going up against the Wildcat defense, and how to exploit the weak points

As with anything else, feel free to ask questions in the comments; we'll see if we can't answer a few more in-depth. Without further adieu, your official Bring On The Cats Scouting Report:

Starters:

#25 Wesley Iwundu, Forward

Junior, 6-7 210

  • Long and athletic, deceptive quickness
  • Slashing-style player - help must come immediately on dribble penetration
  • Works very hard at getting to rim off the dribble, "squirmy" in the paint
  • Below average from the stripe - put on line before conceding the layup
  • Not a threat with the jumper outside 12 feet
  • No credibility as a three point shooter - guard against the drive, not the shot
  • Decent court vision - will find the open man when help comes; not looking to pass out of the paint
  • Will get ball in late shot clock - expect dribble drive with the option to pass
  • Good rebounder on both ends, relies on length and athleticism - solid fundamental blockout required
  • Exceptional in transition both finishing and passing
  • Quick hands and smart on defense - plays passing lanes well, must keep moving
  • Can be beaten on dribble drive, but help defense is coming - keep head up for the weakside pass
#32 Dean Wade, Forward

Freshman, 6-10 225

  • Main focus on offense will be pick and pop off screens, finding gaps in the defense, and rebounding/putbacks
  • Fundamentally solid - play angles and limit depth of catch
  • Moves around by posting or setting screens - pay attention! More likely to peel off for jumper than roll to basket on screen
  • Credible with the jumpshot to just outside the three-point line, not strong back-to-basket play
  • Slower release - must challenge the shot
  • Capable but not necessarily creative passer
  • Not a dribble penetration threat - run off the line and force him to dribble the ball
  • Great touch around the basket, can make free throws - keep off glass!
  • Defensively slow feet - can regularly be beaten on dribble drive, but help is coming
  • Foul prone - create the contact on the drive
#41 Stephen Hurt, Forward

Senior, 6-11 265

  • Big body, but can be moved or managed with hard box outs. See if you can get a cheap foul or two as he'll try to reach over the top.
  • Slower but reasonable defender because of size, typically plays behind the post in order to use height. Susceptible to ball fakes to get around him. Uses height well, but does not leave the ground to defend shots.
  • Will rotate to help, if he's guarding you, be prepared to receive off the bounce and attack.
  • Has ability to knock down jumpers including threes, will shoot them if left open from wing to wing.
  • Not entirely confident with the ball, when he catches in disrupted fashion (play breaking down, near turnover, etc.), he'll want the ball out of his hands as fast as possible.
  • Sets screens in their motion sets but sometimes has trouble getting to the correct spot. Try disrupting his timing to see if it throws off offense's flow. Looking to pick-and-pop off the screen; not a threat to score off the roll.
  • Can't go long sequences or stretches of minutes. Look to attack him if play has been extended with extra shot clock.
  • Inside, has size, but makes most moves with back to basket.
  • If he catches inside, usually takes a set-up dribble or maybe two before diving over his inside shoulder. Prefers to set up on right block and go over left shoulder. Won't usually pass out of the move once it starts.
#14 Justin Edwards, Guard

Senior, 6-4 200

  • Physical guard who has the ability to score in bunches. Defined more by big plays and emotion. Don't let him get started.
  • Streaky, but one of the best all-around shooters on the team. Will take every open look.
  • Must mostly play straight up - can drive with either hand and is above average getting to the basket. Force him into helpside defense rather than the baseline.
  • Can start to sag a little if he gets frustrated - he'll force some shots.
  • Doesn't always use screens effectively (goes wide) - defender can effectively trail instead of needing to go over.
  • Looks to get out early in transition. Keep mark on him even on made baskets.
  • Crashes the offensive glass and has nose for the ball - especially on the weak side. Must find him every time.
  • Solid, athletic defender. Plays passing lanes effectively. Rebounds. Understands and executes help-side consistently.
  • Not afraid to crowd the ball anywhere on the floor. See if you can get him paired on equal athletic player and take him to the hole. Might get an early call or two and limit his minutes.
#3 Kamau Stokes, Guard

Freshman, 6-0 170

  • Point guard looking to both pass and score
  • Exceptional court vision - must close off passing lanes/angles
  • Streaky but legitimate outside shooter - close out every time
  • Doesn't actively look for the outside shot early - once he hits one, he'll start looking for the three ball
  • Shoots jumpers coming off screens - pick defender must block the passing lane
  • Susceptible to turnovers under pressure defense and weakside help
  • Will take ball to basket given the opportunity - must overplay to force left or to baseline
  • Do not send help too early - come over as a shot blocker, not to prevent the drive
  • Excellent on-ball defender - be careful with dribble, don't expect to get around him
  • Size gets him caught up in picks - on-ball screens are effective; pick-and-roll a good attack

Key Bench:

#35 Austin Budke, Forward

Junior, 6-6 220

  • Sizable hustle guy off the bench optimally used when coaches need to bridge a couple of minutes because of rest, fouls, injury, etc.
  • Mostly a glue guy on offense.
  • Shot is capable out to 15-18 feet but not consistent. Will shoot from 3, but don't need to regularly defend that far out.
  • Athleticism limits rebounding ability on both ends of the floor. Will always work to get into position, but is easily mitigated by better talent.
  • Doesn't have a quick first step with the ball. Can choose to crowd or double and force the issue, but doesn't pose a 1-on-1 threat, so straight-up will be adequately effective.
  • Is not a threat to put the ball on the ground and attack. Push up on him and force a mistake.
  • Has penchant for trying to make up for mistakes in a hurry. If he makes a mistake on offense, go at him and see if you can get an advantage.
  • Will rotate and help on defense, but average to below average quickness leads to being a step or two late in position. No reason to let him beat you to the spot.
  • One of those players who may make mistakes when the game speeds up or gets more intense around him. Make efforts to speed him up where possible.
#4 DJ Johnson, Forward

Junior, 6-9 250

  • Coming off significant foot injury - force movement and really challenge him

  • Limited minutes, but productive - high points per minute, rebounds per minute

  • Energy spike when in the game - Wade/DJ and Budke/DJ combo speeds the tempo up a bit

  • Hustle player - limited refinement on skillset

  • Sets big screens - watch for pick-and-roll two-man game

  • Give the shot outside the paint - zero threat

  • Do work early to limit touches in paint - solid post-up play, and nearly unstoppable at the rim

  • Poor foul shooter - rather see him on the line with the ball than on the block with the ball

  • Exceptional rebounder on both ends - must block out every time

  • Decent defender for size, very physical - lined up against a guard is a mismatch

  • Difficult to go straight over the top of - a post fake and counter can get him out of position

  • Will come in from weakside for shot block

#5 Barry Brown, Guard

Freshman, 6-3 195

  • Solid on both ends of the floor

  • Shoot-first mentality - leads team in FGA per minute

  • Statistically best three-point shooter on the team - must mark constantly

  • Can create own shot on offense

  • Solid rebounder for size, especially on offensive glass

  • Passable on-ball defense - defends well without fouling, does not pressure heavily

  • Exceptional in passing lanes - do not be lazy with passes, high steals per minute rate

#1 Carlbe Ervin II, Guard

Junior, 6-3 205

  • Speedy defender who can create transition opportunities.

  • Offensive facilitator more than consistent shooting/driving threat.

  • Decent overall ball handling, but definitely favors right side and doesn't have an unstoppable move if you guard him honestly.

  • Will launch occasional long jumper, but not consistent. Pack it in against him.

  • Best offensive threat is slashing and build to draw contact. Doesn't do it regularly, but is capable.

  • Most dangerous in the open floor. Will look to score at the rim as soon as he crosses half-court.

  • Above average quickness on defense allows him to hide while playing passing lane. NO lazy passes to the wing. He'll snag them and be gone.

  • The most harassing on-ball defender on the team. Expect to be pressured when he's on the floor.

  • Keep an eye on him on rebounds. He's pesky and will grab a couple of awkward-bounce boards if you let him.

  • Runs the break effectively, even if he thinks score first. Will make correct pass to finish the break.

Offensive Scheme & Notes:

  • Big mix of youth and inexperience from new players has limited offensive scheme through the first part of the year.
  • Against man, runs a basic motion offense focused on giving space in isolated matchup setting.
  • Will try to find post entry immediately from the wing and will dump it in with clear look, regardless of any true post advantage. Any delay, however, and the ball will stay above free-throw lane extended.
  • Guards/forwards have a little issue with regularly finding and using short corner. The 4 (Wade/Hurt) will pop and sometimes look for a shot off a guard drive. Pretty standard.
  • Motion tends to breakdown when Iwundu or Edwards get second touches. Team tends to stop, wait, watch and react instead of finishing set. If those players begin drive, rotate to stop drive and establish rebound position against all spots. Shot is likely coming and all K-State players will crash offensive glass.
  • Against matchup zones, will try to similar issues with set finish.
  • Guards tend to be hesitant in attacking to the corner - instead want to stay above free-throw line extended.
  • Ball has trouble rotating to far side at times, either by skip or dribble. Really force the issue against the sideline. Can guard 4-on-3 with post denial and high passing lane pressure.
  • First 10 seconds of shotclock, once post is defended initially, not a lot of activity below the free throw line. Second-option sets after slow resets often leave this team with little time under 10 seconds to find ways to get the ball to Iwundu or Edwards for a drive.
  • Best defense is to deny immediate post entry; and then check shooters at the three-point line (no real need to extend farther). Keeping ball out of high- and low-post will cause the ball-side big to go out and set a ball screen, try to score off two-man game.
  • Within the zone set, knock 4 and 5 off timing (weak-side post will rise up depending which side of the floor the ball starts on) as they arrive to high post in order to facilitate a hi-low dump or swing. Teams have been effective at this most of the season.

Defensive Scheme & Notes:

  • Will run a mixture of straight man-to-man and matchup zone defenses
  • Team-oriented defense, difficult to isolate players
  • Defense concentrates on forcing offense into making mistakes and taking low-percentage shots
  • No defender is exceptionally quick; a good first step drive can get into the paint
  • Perimeter defenders will cover the obvious inside-out passes
  • Ball-movement / defense-movement is key
  • Open perimeter shots and dribble penetration can both be found after ball hits third side
  • Must get the defense to stretch the full width of the floor with reversal or skip pass
  • Defenders pressure passing lanes well to keep ball on one side, length and athleticism by Iwundu/Edwards/Brown make skip passes tough
  • Interior defends screens well; perimeter screens are important - bigs will hedge hard or switch depending on defense
  • Be patient but decisive on perimeter - expect to use the majority of the shot clock each trip
  • Shot blockers only coming from weakside - go direct and into the basket
  • Dribble penetration from perimeter will be met with help - be prepared to jumpstop and dish or hit the floater
  • Take ball straight at Wade (foul-prone) and Budke (undersized) - create contact and get to line
  • Quick passing can easily find open three-point shooters