Chemistry was hard to find in the season-opening Kansas State men's basketball game Saturday afternoon.
Not only do the Wildcats have numerous new players, but they also have a new coach in Bob Huggins, which might have affected the chemistry of the team.
K-State pulled out the 70-60 victory over William & Mary in Bramlage Coliseum, but it wasn't pretty.
Senior guard Cartier Martin was in foul trouble the whole game, and was only able to play 12 minutes. He scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting. He missed on both of his three-point tries, and he grabbed four rebounds. Junior guard David Hoskins had 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting and seven rebounds. He went 1-of-7 from downtown in the game, and missed four layups in the first half.
"I don't remember the last time I missed that many layups in a basketball game. That was pretty frustrating," Hoskins said. "Coach said we looked scared. I know personally I'm not scared when I come out, but I just wanted to prove that we were not scared out here, just excited."
Scared or excited, it doesn't matter because whatever it was it wasn't good. K-State made only 24-of-80 shots in the game, and only 6-of-29 from three-point land.
"The game is easier when the ball goes in. It's more fun to coach, and it's more fun to play," Huggins said. "It doesn't always go in, so you have to figure out ways to win when it doesn't go in. I think we got really tentative.
I don't want them looking over at me and saying ‘is that a good one?' If you have to ask me, it's probably not. My concern is effort and execution, we have to execute offensively and defensively."
Senior guard Lance Harris was the only player who could find any rhythm offensively. He hit 8-of-19 shots, including three three-pointers, and had 22 points and seven rebounds. He also two assists, two blocks and one assist.
The Wildcats looked much better defensively than they did last year, thanks in large part to some of the newcomers.
Junior point guard Blake Young had an extremely productive day defensively in his first game and first start with K-State after transferring from a junior college. He was in the face of the Tribes' point guard all game long, and showed flashes of why Huggins recruited him.
He only shot 4-of-13 from the field for 11 points, but he also had three rebounds, four assists and two steals. If Young plans on bringing the ball down the court all season, he will need to work on his ballhandling skills.
He committed four turnovers, and had many instances when he tried to create off the dribble and ran into trouble. Huggins was unhappy with Young's play, and he substituted junior guard Clent Stewart in and out with him at the point guard position. Young played the point when both players were on the court, and they combined to play for 45 minutes. Stewart only made 1-of-9 shots for two points, but he dished out four assists and had two steals.
Freshman center Luis Colon earned the start, and he stayed on the court for 20 minutes. He scored four points and came down with seven rebounds. Huggins was trying to get a feel for which one of his big men will be able to step up and be the No. 1 guy, and he also played freshman Jason Bennett 20 minutes. Bennett only scored one point and had three rebounds, but the 7-foot-3 center blocked four shots.
Bennett showed flashes of greatness, but was too inconsistent and had numerous errors. Colon played hard also, but wasn't playing the kind of defense Huggins would have liked.
"I was pretty nervous while I was shooting my free throws," Bennett said of his first time playing in a collegiate game. "I haven't really played in front of a crowd that big before, it was so intense out there. I never played on a team that had a crowd of fans like that.
"I think I played fairly decent. I need to step up my game. We have to come in tomorrow and work hard in practice. Then we leave Tuesday to go to Rutgers and we are just going to play hard."