Wildcats healthy heading into seasonNovember 9, 2018 4:46pm

Nov. 08--Nov. 8--Kansas State pummeled Pittsburg State in its lone exhibition of the preaseason last Friday.

The Wildcats hit their first six shots, and 9 of their first 11. Twelve of the 13 players who entered the contest made one field goal. And in winning 79-39 over the woebegone Gorillas, the Widcats matched the fewest points they've ever allowed in an exhibition.

They did all of this without their senior leader and arguably best defender Barry Brown, who was held out as a precautionary measure because of a leg injury.

But heading into Friday's regular-season opener versus Kennesaw State -- which tips off at 7 p.m. Friday at Bramlage Coliseum and will air on Fox Sports Kansas City -- that's in the past.

"Yeah," Brown said, "I'm doing much better."

Brown returned to practice Monday and also participated Tuesday. Both Brown and head coach Bruce Weber said the senior guard "could have played" against Pittsburg State if it had been a regular-season game.

"We were being a little precautious with him and making sure he felt good about it, and that there was nothing there," Weber said. "He's fine."

Weber couldn't even recall exactly how many practices Brown missed last week. But when he hit the floor Monday, Weber said Brown's level didn't meet his usually high standards.

Weber gave him a pass.

"It's just like anybody: You don't do something for five days, you lose some rhythm, you lose some conditioning and the coaches told me at midnight he was back in the gym," Weber said. "It's good, but he's just got to be smart about it. He wants to be a (great) player. That's what makes him special."

As a whole, Weber said his team is as healthy as he could ask for at the outset of the season. Yes, he said, there always are nicks and other small issues present. That's the nature of a physical game.

For Weber, it's about balance: preparing thoroughly and with intensity at every practice without going overboard.

"You've got workouts in the summer and you've got more hours in the fall, and I'm not sure they practice as much growing up, so it's different than it used to be," he said. "So they're not ready for that.

"There's some little bumps and bruises, but I think we're OK. They seem to heal up quickly when games start."

To think his team -- which starts off No. 12 nationally in the initial Associated Press poll and No. 11 in the coaches' rankings -- won't be fired up to play Kennesaw State isn't accurate, saying he anticipates every player will be "fired up" to tip off a new season.

Basketball is back.

"You get into a routine, and this is where we have to be smart as a staff to keep them fresh," Weber said, "but at the same time, they've got to put in the time and push themselves to be prepared for every game."

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(c)2018 The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, Kan.)

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