Time to change the narrative on J.T. Durley's career. The evidence is splattered all over the court.
He is no longer the guy who might not be tough enough to play basketball at Wichita State. He is the guy who coach Gregg Marshall points to as an example for taking charges, perhaps the play that best defines toughness.
"It's a willingness to do it," Marshall said. "The willingness to stick your nose in there. He's come a long way, and that's just another example."
Durley, a 6-foot-7 junior, took three charges in WSU's exhibition game. He took another in Sunday's regular-season win over Fairleigh Dickinson. The Shockers (1-0) play NCAA Division II Arkansas-Monticello tonight in the second game of CBE Classic, and Durley expects to lurk in the lane and prepare to take a hit again.
"A charge is like a dunk on the defensive end," he said. "It's a big step, me being a leader and an upperclassmen, I have to set an example on how to play defense."
Getting in position to take charges takes experience and hustle, as well as a little acting at times. Durley is a fourth-year junior, so years of drills make helping a beaten teammate second nature. He can guard his man while keeping an eye on the ball and slip into position when needed.
"Some people think it's a flop, but you've got to really stick your nose in and take the hit," he said. "If not, the benefit of the doubt (is with the offensive player). You've got to sell the call."
Taking charges don't often show up on highlight films. While coaches keep track, there is no NCAA statistical category. It might be the most overlooked game-changing play. It penalizes the other team with a turnover, a team foul, a personal foul and it often wipes away a basket.
Just as important, it can make offensive players reluctant to drive. Fans watched former Shocker A.J. Hawkins struggle with his offensive game last season after he repeatedly charged into defenders. The Shockers don't block many shots; they can control the lane by taking charges.
"It's easier when you make the offensive player out of control," Durley said. "I try to get him caught in between decisions on shooting and passing. I'm trying to get to him to think I might block the shot, then I step in and take the charge."
As pleased as Marshall is with Durley's transformation, more work is needed. The last step for Durley is to fight through fatigue on defense.
"Every once in awhile he gets a little tired, and he will settle behind his man on defense, or not be as physical as he needs to be on a box out," Marshall said. "When he gets over that, he will have made a 180."