Wildcat Basketball Roundup
News and Notes
Pick a preseason Most Valuable Wildcat to this Kansas State basketball team and the certain winner would be Marcus Kinney. Kinney is the Wildcats strength and conditioning coach and at least in part responsible for shedding the pounds off the 6-foot-7 frame of Marques Hayden and the 6-4 Jarrett Hart.
With both players coach Jim Wooldridge said, "They're better athletes today because they're not carting around an extra 25 pounds. In four days of practice, they look like better players because of their weight loss."
Hayden came into camp last year at "26I ... I was tipping the scales," but is now a slim-and-trim 228. He credits a "refined diet" and "more running," and admits, "No, it wasn't fun."
He still eats pop tarts for breakfast, but a salad lunch and no snacks after his 6:30 evening meal. He says what he misses most are Crispy Cream doughnuts in the morning and the unique combo of "a pound of broccoli and grapes" as an evening snack.
"I'm still adjusting to my new body," Hayden said. "I jump up for a shot and I float to the right or left because I'm so light."
Hart played at the 225 to 230 range last year and is now at 200 to 205. His pounds came off through additional conditioning and cutting out the "little bity" snacks at night. Today, he says, it's Lunchables instead of Pizza Shuttle, and crackers instead of chips.
"It's made me a better all-around player in terms of quickness and agility," Hart said. "There were times last year I would wear down, but now I'm in better shape and my conditioning is way better.
BIG-TIME ADJUSTMENT Dez Willingham is one of the four freshmen trying to win a position on the Wildcat team, but the 6-0 product of Texas
As for the preseason conditioning drills, plus opening practices, Willingham said, "It's really tough ... really tough. They work us like slaves. You have to develop a mental toughness. You catch yourself asking, 'Can I get through this?'"
ONE BIG SOCCER PLAYER Dramane Diarra, a transfer from Cloud County Community College and native of Paris, France, only took up the game of basketball seven years ago. "I played soccer,
While teammates Hayden and Hart have been shedding poundage, Diarra has upped his weight from 225 to 243 since the summer.
TWO WEEKS AWAY K-State's exhibition season begins in two weeks when the EA Sports All-Stars visit Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 6. The Wildcats' second exhibition game will be on Nov. 15 against Global Sports. The official KSU opener is Friday, Nov. 21, against Birmingham-Southern in Bramlage.
ON SCHEDULING This year's lineup includes the likes of Birmingham-Southern, Lipscomb, Gardner-Webb, Wyoming, Wichita State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Bethune-Cookman and Savannah State at home, plus Oregon State, UMKC and Saint Louis on the road.
On the scheduling, Wooldridge said, " I understand it's not the hardest Big 12 non-conference schedule out there, but our only concern is what we thought this team needed.
"We've got some teams, on paper, we should beat, and a couple of road-game challenges," Wooldridge said. "The schedule best fits what we are night now and what we need to develop this team going into the Big 12 season. I'm not really concerned with the criticism because we're trying to build this team."