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K-State Needs To Mix Returnees With Newcomers
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


Story line
Kansas State won its first conference title since 1977 but must replace three starters plus a top senior reserve. Top scorer Rodney McGruder had a stellar four-year career but the unexpected transfer of point guard Angel Rodriguez means that senior Will Spradling will move back to point guard, the position he played as a freshman. How the veterans perform and mesh with a talented group of freshmen will determine how well the Wildcats fare in Bruce Weber's second season as coach.

Coach: Bruce Weber, 27-8 in one season at Kansas State; 340-163 in 15 seasons overall.
Last season: 27-8 overall, 14-4, tied 1st.
NCAA Tournament: Lost NCAA Tournament second round.

Top players
Senior guard Will Spradling, senior guard/forward Shane Southwell, junior forward Thomas Gipson, senior guard Omari Lawrence, junior forward Nino Williams, sophomore forward D.J. Johnson, freshman guard Marcus Foster, freshman guard Nigel Johnson, freshman forward Wesley Iwundu.

Coach Weber says
"The key for us to be competitive in the league, there is no doubt our older guys have to be consistent, starting with our seniors. They have to be there every day. They have to be great leaders.  You look at last year, we had experienced guys, Kansas had experienced guys. It makes it so much easier on a coach. If we get consistent play out of the older guys, it will make it a lot easier on me, and a lot easier on the freshmen."

Notable
Kansas State won a share of its first conference title in basketball since 1977. The 14 league victories matched the school record set by the 1958-59 team that finished 14-0 in the Big Eight. … Shane Southwell has started 26 consecutive games and the Wildcats are 20-6 in those games. … Kansas State has won at least 21 games each of the last seven seasons. Prior to that time span, K-State had just two 20-win seasons in the previous 18 years. … Bruce Weber's 27 victories last season was the most for a K-State coach in his first season at the school.

Season opener
Nov. 8 vs. Northern Colorado

Top nonconference games
Nov. 13 vs. Oral Roberts
Dec. 5 vs. Ole Miss in Big 12-SEC Challenge.
Dec. 21 vs. Gonzaga

Conference opener
Jan. 4 vs. Oklahoma State

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