K-State's Weber, Patterson pleased with their seasons

5/15/2013

By ADAM HOLT

By ADAM HOLT

aholt@gctelegram.com

Kansas State's basketball teams almost mirrored each other last season. The men were strong during the regular season, winning a share of the Big 12 title with in-state rival Kansas, while the women came on late, scrapping their way to the final four of the WNIT.

In the end, both men's coach Bruce Weber and women's coach Deb Patterson said they were pleased with their campaigns in separate interviews with The Telegram prior to an alumni event at the Clarion Inn on Tuesday evening.

Weber said the Wildcats got better as the season went along, and was happy with how his first year at K-State went.

"We had a great group of guys, we had great chemistry in the locker room, we had good chemistry between the coaches and the players," he said. "To win the league for the first time in 36 years, we won 27 games. I think we got a lot out of our guys, there's no doubt."

Weber expressed disappointment with the decision of Angel Rodriguez to transfer, but is still excited about the group he has for next season.

"The late departure of Angel really, I think we would have been one of the favorites with him going into it now," Weber said. "Now you've got a lot of unknowns again. It's college basketball; a lot of kids transfer, go early. You're not the only one in the country, and if you worry about it and sit there and cry about it, you're not going to make progress."

The K-State women on the other hand, struggled to a 5-13 mark in Big 12 play, but were an overtime period away from playing for the WNIT title. The team's toughness was what stuck out to Patterson.

"This is one of the most interesting seasons I've ever coached through at K-State," she said. "I'm so proud of the toughness and the resiliency and the want-to that this basketball team brought to the floor."

Playing with only five scholarship players at times due to injuries, Patterson said the 2012-13 group set a great example of how to persevere. With six incoming freshmen and five players returning from injury, next season will feature a very different group of players.

"I look at this as a developmental year — a year to challenge them mentally, emotionally, physically," Patterson said. "That bar last year's team set in terms of toughness and resiliency is there. I hope these young people will aspire to match it."

It doesn't hurt to have a staff that preaches that philosophy — a group that includes former Wildcat and Sublette Lark Shalee Lehning.

"Shalee exemplifies that toughness," Patterson said. "That day-in and day-out excellence, that commitment to something bigger than herself and selflessness. Those qualities are Kansas State personified."

And Lehning is spreading that message on the recruiting trail as well, and Patterson said she's made great strides as a recruiter.

"Now she's becoming nationally regarded as a recruiter," Patterson said. "And that's a tremendous impact for your program. Because you know in the day-to-day, the teaching, the experiences that she brings, the intangibles, those will be there, in where we live today.

"But when you begin to expand your reach, and to touch people across the nation with your ability to communicate, your ability to attract people, nationally and internationally to Kansas State, that's when you've expanded in a whole another realm, and Shalee's done that in the last year."

And considering what Lehning did at K-State, there's maybe not a better person to have out on the road trying to attract recruits.

"There's a great value in that, if a person is willing and open to listen," Patterson said. "And if they're not, shame on them. There's no greater example than those who have lived through the process."

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