MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State Men's Basketball Head Coach Bruce Weber and Junior Guard Rudi Williams spoke to members of the media via Zoom on Tuesday ahead of Kansas State's 2020-2021 season.
With the Coronavirus pandemic resurgence in the state, Coach Weber started off by saying he's still hopeful that his team will get a season and that it's been difficult to navigate through the pandemic at times.
"Everyday it's a new challenge," said Weber. "There's so many things involved. Obviously the Covid, the contact tracing, but also the mental health. I think that's a really big factor."
Weber mentioned that with what his team has gone through in terms of sticking out the pandemic and the process of preparing for a season that he just hopes they will get one at all, for the sake of his players and their mental health.
"I'm not sure how many bodies we'll have next Wednesday, but I hope we get to play for their sake," said Weber. "We've had to be resilient, we've had to stay with it, and ups and downs and all arounds and now we're so close to playing, I hope we get an opportunity to play."
The Wildcats are slated to open their season on Wednesday, November 25th against the Drake Bulldogs in the inaugural Little Apple Classic, but with the current conditions surrounding the state of Kansas and the Coronavirus pandemic, even that is still up in the air.
"It's been hard. I will tell you, but I'm trying to keep the faith," said Weber. "I've said many times on these different interviews, 'right now everybody needs hope, everybody needs understanding, everyone needs a purpose, everyone needs love and empathy."
The Wildcats have dealt with a large amount of roster turnover, and navigating that in a traditional year provides challenges, but with the added spice of a global pandemic, it's natural to have even more questions about how a team has molded together when so many new faces are thrown together, but Coach Weber said that of all the facets of the game, defense is his biggest concern to this point.
"I'm not sure about our sustained defense, or our transition defense" said Weber. "We're going to have to do a good job of rotating guys."
There's plenty of uncertainty surrounding the season itself, but the uncertainty on the look of the five on the floor isn't something that's unique to Kansas State. Every other team in the nation has question marks surrounding their program heading into this season, but much of that will be solved next week when the ball gets tipped for the first time.
"I have no idea how we're going to look when we're out there," said Weber. "You don't have exhibition games, you don't have scrimmages, you've been limited with officials, I've been limited with numbers, so again, you just make the best of it."
Much like his coach, Rudi Williams has no idea what he's in for this season either. The junior college transfer is still getting settled in Manhattan, but hasn't had much time to adjust or get comfortable, but he's not alone.
"All the newcomers are coming from different styles of basketball," said Williams. "So we all had different play styles and traditions and stuff we followed as players, but now you come in here and you have to learn different schemes and different types of offenses. So we've all had to learn the K-State style of basketball."
That style of basketball is still being determined ahead of this unprecedented season, but the Wildcats continue pressing on in hopes of tipping off in Bramlage Coliseum on November 25th.
Kansas State Athletics announced today that both men's and women's games would not allow fans in games throughout the remainder of November.