Catching up with Kansas State’s Bruce Weber
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
It’s not easy stepping into a new basketball program and taking over a roster of players you didn’t recruit.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for success. Ask Jim Larranaga, in his second season at Miami. Or Larry Eustachy, in his first at Colorado State.
Or Bruce Weber at Kansas State. Weber’s Wildcats are 21-5 (10-3 Big 12) and ranked 13th in the latest USA TODAY Sports coaches poll. It’s a far cry from this time last season, when Weber’s Fighting Illini were losing 10 of their last 12 games of the season and sealing his fate as a coach about to be ousted.
Weber landed on his feet rather quickly — in Manhattan, Kan., where he says at first he heard comparisons to his predecessor, Frank Martin, pretty regularly. By the time he and his Wildcats started winning Big 12 games, those comparisons stopped. It was his team. His players. Their success.
PREVIOUSLY: Weber brings new mindset to Kansas State
Weber caught up with USA TODAY Sports by phone Thursday to chat about the Wildcats’ success, the best players in the Big 12 and what it’s like to see Illinois having a great season this year.
Weber on how his team came together this season (they’ve won six of their last seven games):
“You have a new team, just trying to put things together. It took us a little time. The big confidence booster for us was the Florida game (a 67-61 win). The trust factor, the system just took off for us as a team. We had an extra opportunity over (Christmas) break. We didn’t have school from Dec. 14 to Jan. 22, so we used that extra time not to overwork them but really teach them. Coming in in the morning and shoot, doing drills to kind of help implement the system. That all added up to confidence. … The kids have taken pride in it and we’re making good strides as a team.”
Weber on the success of other first- or second-year coaches in college basketball:
“When you take over a program, the first thing you’ve got … [For more on Coach's Corner: Catching up with Kansas State's Bruce Weber, click here.]