Bruce Weber: 'Good transition' so far with K-State men's basketball new strength and conditioning coach

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Oct. 23—KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After five years as the Kansas State men's basketball program's strength and conditioning coach, Ben O'Donnell resigned from his position in May. He was ready for a career in the private sector.

With a vacancy as important as the strength and conditioning coach — arguably no member of a staff spends more time around players than this person — Bruce Weber wasted no time finding O'Donnell's replacement.

Weber announced June 18 that A.J. Kloss was the new man in charge of the Wildcats' strength and conditioning program. Kloss already knew his way around Bramlage Coliseum and the Ice Family Basketball Center. He spent the past seven years (2014-21) directing the strength and conditioning regimen for K-State's women's basketball team. (He also served in the same role for K-State's women's tennis team.)

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity Coach Weber and his staff have given me to join the program. ... I've been appreciative of the support I have received from (women's basketball head) Coach (Jeff) Mittie and (women's tennis head) Coach (Jordan) Smith throughout my tenure and during this transition," " Kloss said in June, shortly after his move to the men's basketball program became official. "I am honored to take the torch from a first-class strength coach and valued friend, Ben O'Donnell. My predecessor only claimed 5-foot-7, but he left big shoes to fill — that's not something I'm taking lightly."

Four months into his new gig, so far so good.

"He's done a great job. ... I don't know if anyone can match Ben's energy, his charisma," eber said Wednesday at the Big 12 men's basketball media day event at the T-Mobile Center. "But A.J. is very knowledgeable. He takes a lot of pride in it. So I think you'd have to ask the guys, but I think it's been a good transition."

It didn't hurt that Kloss came highly recommended — from his direct forerunner himself.

"When Ben came in (to announce his resignation) — he was very emotional leaving — the first thing he said was, 'Coach, you've got to hire AJ. He's better than I am,'" Weber said.

While Weber said Kloss might put his own spin on the program and make minor tweaks to O'Donnell's old plans, the head coach doesn't expect wholesale changes.

"Those two were really close," Weber said. "I'd go in there in the morning to go talk with them, and they were like mad scientists trying to figure out what they were going to do today with either the men or women (basketball teams). So I think they have very similar backgrounds, opinions and techniques they want to teach and things they want to do."

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