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Wichita State's Hall can clearly see his leadership role WSU senior can clearly see his leadership role

  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at 6:18 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at 11:42 p.m.

Carl Hall sees the light. Better still, he sees the rim, which used to look like a round, orange blur that he had to squint his eyes to bring into any kind of focus.

The Wichita State senior, who lifted the lid on his 2012-13 season with a 23-point, seven-rebound performance in which he made all seven of his field goals and nine of his 10 free throws, can see clearly now. The rain is gone.

Equipped with a pair of state-of-the-art goggles, Hall showed why he’s a senior anchor on a team young enough to still get Legos under the Christmas tree. He relishes his role as a leader, having so eagerly learned from those who came before him, the likes of Garrett Stutz, Toure Murry, Joe Ragland, David Kyles and Ben Smith.

“I’m doing my best to keep everyone motivated,” said Hall, who averaged 8.4 points and 5 rebounds last season while playing just more than 22 minutes per game.

Those minutes are going to go up, up, up this season. He’s the Shockers’ only proven inside scorer and looks to have added some nice offensive moves to his game.

But the biggest news regarding Hall is that as long as he keeps wearing his goggles — and it’s not a given that he will — he’ll have a brand new look at what basketball really looks like.

Hall said his vision has gotten worse over the past couple of years, thanks to astigmatism in his right eye. It has made his world a blurry, distorted and wondrous place, one in which he’s not quite sure where his next step will take him.

He’s not quite Mr. Magoo without the proper sight enhancement, but he’s in that realm.

“I tried contacts last season but they kept falling out,” Hall said. “So this year I thought I would try something new.”

More accurately, the Shockers’ coaching and training staff convinced Hall to try something new. Or else.

But it wasn’t that easy.

Hall says he is hard-headed and reluctant to change. Convincing him that something needed to be done about his eyesight wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

“Carl, being Carl, can be difficult,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said after Monday night’s exhibition win. “He never could get contacts to work consistently and he has terrible vision. So we went to the goggles. But he says they’re too strong or that they give him blurry vision. He actually tried telling that to (assistant coach) Chris Jans before the game tonight. He was complaining about how the bright lights in the arena got in his eyes.

“It’s just Carl.”

Hall got the goggles a couple of weeks ago and was told to wear them whenever he’s awake.

But in his first practice with them, he was so startled by the clear focus of the rim that he couldn’t make a shot. Like a blind man who could suddenly see, he had no idea what he was seeing.

“I threw those things across the floor,” Hall said. “I wasn’t making any shots in practice and it was making me mad.”

After his performance against Pittsburgh State, though, Hall was clutching the case containing his goggles tightly in his hand.

“I can’t let them get away,” he said.

Marshall, who has some new specs this season himself, now has statistical ammunition to support his claim that the goggles are the best thing to happen to the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Hall.

“I think he wore them the whole game, did he not?” Marshall asked reporters. “So he missed one shot. He was nine of 10 from the line, seven of seven from the field. Yeah, he’s going to wear them.”

Even Hall is at a loss for a reason why he should continue to be left out in the dark.

“When I put these goggles on, it still feels weird,” he said. “I can’t actually see after squinting for so long. But these things don’t look too bad. They’re sports glasses, almost like wearing some Oakleys.”

A 20/20 Hall provides the Shockers with more focus, too.

He and guard Demetric Williams are the only seniors with much recent experience; 7-footer Ehimen Orukpe has seen only limited playing time and Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead, a guard, sat out the 2011-12 season.

“I’m trying to do for some of these guys what the seniors last season did for me,” Hall said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we can get there. The thing about those seniors last year was that they were very experienced and they knew how to win close games.”

Marshall is more than ready to lean on Hall, his strongest player. He needs Hall to be the ship’s anchor.

Hall is ready to be just that. And ready, finally, to be able to see where the ship is going.

Read Bob Lutz’s blog at blogs.kansas.com/lutz. Reach him at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com.

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