A roster overhaul changed the names and faces, not the style of play or results.
Wichita State easily won its lone exhibition game, 100-56 over Pittsburg State on Monday at Koch Arena. Coach Gregg Marshall played 12 players. Almost everybody contributed in some way to establish depth and versatility as an asset again.
Five players made their NCAA Division I debuts. A sixth made his Shocker debut. For most of the newcomers, the crowd of 9,810 likely ranks as the largest to watch them play. Yet chemistry and jitters didn’t appear to be much of a problem. The Shockers shot 49.2 percent from the field and handed out 18 assists to 14 turnovers.
“This game, we needed to use it to get ready and get on the same page with all the newcomers,” sophomore guard Evan Wessel said.
The Shockers open the season on Saturday against North Carolina Central. Marshall can spend the next five days preparing another array of lineup combinations. He started a big lineup with 7-footer Ehimen Orukpe at center and Carl Hall at forward. There is plenty of potential in that lineup. A smaller look with Hall at center also works well. Marshall won’t go 12 deep in most games — he wants to redshirt somebody. He looks forward to seeing which players work their way into the rotation.
“I’m just glad we got that first game in front of our Shocker home crowd,” he said. “Now it’s real, live bullets next time we go out there. As I expected, there was pretty good and there was some not-so-good.”
Defense and balanced scoring top the list of good.
Five Shockers scored eight or more points, led by Hall’s 23. Hall made all 7 of his shots and 9 of 10 free throws, in addition to blocking three shots and grabbing seven rebounds. Ron Baker added 17, half at the foul line. Evan Wessel made his first four three-pointers before a miss. He scored 13 points. Guard Malcolm Armstead led WSU with seven rebounds and five assists.
The Shockers held Pitt State to 17 of 57 shooting, 2 of 16 from the three-point range. They scored 17 points off 10 first-half turnovers. Marshall used his depth, quickness and switching defenses to disrupt the Gorillas’ offense and show what he believes will be a key asset.
“That really helped us in the first half, build a lead, with the changing defenses and getting some deflections and easy baskets,” Marshall said.
WSU scored 100 or more in an exhibition for the first time since 2002, when it passed 100 in two exhibition wins. The 44-point margin is the largest in an exhibition since an 80-38 win over Fort Hays State in 2006.
As for concerns, nothing appeared critical.
Junior Cleanthony Early missed 10 of 11 shots, a showing Marshall wrote off to nerves in his WSU debut. Armstead committed three second-half turnovers. Some of the new guys, including Early, forgot to check into the game the proper way or tell their teammate to come out. The Shockers fouled a lot — 24 times — and surrendered 20 points on free throws.
WSU dominated the first half, even playing 12 men in a variety of combinations. It led 54-17 after holding the Gorillas to 24-percent shooting. The second half unfolded in the same way. WSU started the half on a 7-2 run and everybody played again and seemed to contribute.
The Shockers took a 9-0 led with their starters. Wessel’s second three made it 13-3. Marshall’s first wave of subs allowed the Gorillas to cut into the lead. That trend didn’t last long. Hall’s basket started the Shockers on a 12-2 run for a 30-11 lead.
Hall and Baker led WSU with 12 points each in the first half. Hall, scoring all his baskets in the lane, made all four of his shots and 4 of 5 free throws. Baker made two threes. Wessel added 10 points, going 3 of 3 from behind the arc.
Armstead took care of much of the other work. He finished the half with five assists and four steals, commiting one turnover in 12 minutes.
Worth noting — Junior center Chadrack Lufile didn’t play to protect his left knee, which he hyperextended in practice. Lufile did participate in shootaround and warmups.… Dave Dahl returned to his post as color analyst for home games on radio broadcasts after a season off while he ran for Sedgwick County District Court judge. Dahl won his primary in August and is unopposed in the general election. Dahl, a former Shocker player, started as color man during the 1980-81 season.… WSU coaches Gregg Marshall, Jody Adams and Chris Lamb will model clothes during Johnston’s Fall Fashion Event to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Johnston’s, 12111 E.21st. Tickets are $50.
Percentages: FG .298, FT .714. Three-Point Goals: 2-16, .125 (Cordray 1-2, Eaddy 1-3, Ingram 0-1, Bullard 0-1, Pierrevilus 0-2, Nolen 0-2, Pugh 0-2, Porter 0-3). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 16 (Pierrevilus 3, Porter 3, Nolen 3, Adams 2, Eaddy 2, Ingram, Bullard, Harrison). Steals: 9 (Pierrevilus 2, Nolen 2, Pugh 2, Porter, Ingam, Bullard).
Percentages: FG .492, FT .789. Three-Point Goals: 10-25, .400 (Wessel 4-5, Wiggins 2-2, Baker 2-5, Cotton 1-2, White 1-2, VanVleet 0-1, Armstead 0-2, Green 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 5 (hall 3, Orukpe, EArly). Turnovers: 14 (Armstead 4, Wessel 2, Hall 2, Cotton 2, Green, Williams, Early, Wiggins). Steals: 13 (Armstead 4, Baker 2, Williams 2, Early 2, Cotton 2, Wessel).
Officials—Brad Ferrie, John Hendricks, Dan Nowakowski.