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NCAA Tournament 2017: Scouting the Kansas State Wildcats

How did Kansas State look on film? How does Wake Forest match up against them?

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will take on the Kansas State Wildcats on Tuesday evening in Dayton, Ohio in the First Four. Here at Blogger So Dear we will have as much coverage of this upcoming game as possible. We began with an initial preview, but this article will be a more in-depth scouting report of Kansas State. How do they match up against the Deacs?

I haven’t seen much of Kansas State this year, so I wanted to try and have an informed opinion headed into this contest. I watched Kansas State’s 80-68 loss to Oklahoma State that took place on February 22nd. Why this game? I have to give credit to Grumpy for pointing out the similarities between Wake Forest and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State is 24th in Ken Pom and features the best offense in the country, but also has just the 133rd best defense. They shoot it really well from the outside and also do a nice job of offensive rebounds. They have an elite point guard in Jawun Evans and also a solid post threat. They aren’t a true mirror image of Wake, but it’s pretty close for our purposes. How did Kansas State perform against a team similar to Wake?

These will just be in bullet point form where I share the observations that I made throughout the game. If you have additional questions, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments section. I will add the caveat that this is just one game, and it’s probably that they looked very good in their 2 point loss at Kansas, or some of their wins over West Virginia and Baylor.

Observations from the game

  • Kansas State’s best player is #25 Wesley Iwundu, who is a 6’7” small forward. He can shoot it from the outside (36% from 3), rebound, pass it, and put it on the floor, but he can be turnover prone. He isn’t entirely polished, but is still efficient. I’m not sure who Wake puts on him, and he will definitely be a matchup problem.
  • The Wildcats have the 27th best defensive efficiency in the country, and they play a lot of man-to-man. They don’t hedge many ball screens. Instead, they have the defending big slide underneath to attempt to contain the ball handler. This can lead to getting beat off the dribble, or losing track of the screening big. If this happens with John Collins, that could be problematic for KSU. I think this can also make them susceptible to pocket passes.
  • This defense has horrific three point percentage defense and it’s easy to see why. They tend to sag off of offensive players and value containing dribble penetration more. If Wake is hot, or even average, this can get Wake the victory.
  • Oklahoma State was able to have success setting basic back screens that set up lobs for dunks. I’ve seen Wake run this action throughout the year, and expect them to do the same on Tuesday.
  • Overall, Kansas State didn’t appear to be an extremely quick team. #5 Barry Brown did have a few good takes, and he’s probably their quickest player. That said, their guards were pretty strong and physical.
  • They didn’t strike me as a particularly good transition team, but they do look to push and draw fouls. Drawing fouls is an important component of their offense, so Wake has to be prepared to get back in transition.
  • Kansas State is a good outside shooting team, while Wake doesn’t typically do a great job of defending the 3. That said, I think Wake’s biggest issue defending the 3 is that teams get looks after break downs caused by pick-and-roll. This defense shouldn’t be as bad against Kansas State for that reason.
  • I noticed a lot of dribble hand offs in weaving action for Kansas State, but not a lot of pick and roll. You have to have communication in those situations so there isn’t an unfavorable switch and then an opposing guard attacking the basket. When they did run PNR it was with #4 DJ Johnson. He sets a lot of screens in the offense, but isn’t the most natural roller. He is very physical and does a great job of drawing fouls. Whichever team is able to get the other team’s bigs in foul trouble will have a big advantage.
  • Kansas State runs a lot of 4-out action, even sometimes being 5 out. #32 Dean Wade is a stretch 5, though he isn’t very physical. He can shoot 3’s and operate in the mid post. They also look to run some high-low action with him at the top of the key and DJ Johnson sealing down low. Additionally, towards the end, the bigs set a number of down screens for the wings to run to the corners to shoot 3’s. Communication is paramount in this situations.
  • Their defense is very good at forcing turnovers and at times they really extend pressure and lock in. Extending pressure means teams have to take longer to get into their sets, which can result in having to battle the shot clock.
  • Kansas State turns it over a lot, and a number of their turnovers were fairly sloppy and unforced. Though Wake doesn’t force many turnovers, they should be able to score a fair amount of points in transition. Oklahoma State had success with this. Oklahoma State is faster than Wake is, but Wake is still good enough in transition to capitalize.
  • Size wise, Iwundu is clearly the biggest mismatch. He can shoot over top of Austin Arians, and Arians will have a difficult time defending him. Their other guards, however, are only 6’ and 6’3”. This is welcome become Wake had recently have to deal with the tall guards 6’5”+ of Virginia Tech.
  • Wake Forest seems to struggle the most against spread teams with tall/athletic guards who run a lot of pick-and-roll. That is not a scheme that Kansas State employs. It’s possible that they could beat Wake’s defense by spreading the Deacs and then hitting
  • I will be interested to see how we attempt to defend them. The only concern will be at the 3. I believe that we will start in man-to-man, but would not be surprised to see us switch to the 2-3 matchup zone that we used in Blacksburg.

I hope that was informative. I’m honestly a lot more optimistic about this game than I was when I saw that we drew Kansas State in the tournament. I’d still prefer to play either USC or Providence, but I do not believe that Kansas State plays in a way that best exploits Wake Forest’s biggest weaknesses. Stay tuned to BSD as we continue to break down Wake’s contest against Kansas State.