MANHATTAN (TNS) — Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber said he intended to use a committee of big men to replace D.J. Johnson this season, and the Wildcats lived up to that statement in their first two exhibition games.
When healthy, the first four positions of K-State's starting lineup appear set. Kamau Stokes at point guard, Barry Brown at shooting guard, Xavier Sneed on the wing and Dean Wade at power forward.
At center, there is no telling what to expect. Mawdo Sallah, a 6-foot-9 Mount St. Mary's transfer, started against Missouri State and did some nice things, finishing with seven points and four rebounds. But that wasn't enough for him to maintain his starting spot against Fort Hays State. Makol Mawien, a 6-foot-9 junior-college transfer, took over and put up six points and two rebounds.
Freshmen Nigel Shadd and Levi Stockard have come off the bench in both games, providing mixed results.
Who will start down low in K-State's final exhibition game against Emporia State at 8:10 p.m. Friday at Bramlage Coliseum? What about next week when the season begins?
One statistic may answer those questions.
"I want to play our best players and have them on the court," Weber said. "Sometimes we are small and if they want to play, they are going to have to rebound. We are going to have to have a better mentality on rebounding."
Weber may continue shifting K-State's starting lineup until he finds a consistent rebounder. In the meantime, he is asking everyone on the team, from the shortest guard to the tallest forward, to help out on the boards.
The easiest path to playing time, he said, is through rebounds.
That is fine by Mawien.
"I just want to give my all," he said. "Rebounding, scoring whatever it takes. I just want to bring something to the table."
Through two exhibition games, Wade and Sneed are K-State's top rebounders, averaging five rebounds. Brown is next at 4.5 and guard Amaad Wainright comes in at four.
Mawien, Sallah and Shadd are all averaging three.
"There isn't going to be a time in the season where we don't feel like we have somebody to step in play big minutes," Sallah said. "That is one of the great things about this team. We always have reinforcements."