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Shockers remember VCU all too well

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, at 5:36 p.m.

Wichita State at VCU

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Siegel Center

Records: WSU 1-0, VCU 1-0

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

TV: ESPNU, Ch. 244

Wichita State at VCU

GDarius Theus6-3Sr.8.0x-4.0
F Juvonte Reddic6-9Jr.10.09.0
G Treveon Graham6-5So.15.07.0
GTroy Daniels6-4Sr.9.03.0
CD.J. Haley7-0Jr.2.03.0

VCU (1-0): The Rams return 80 percent of their scoring and 85 percent of their rebounding from last season’s team that went 29-7 and lost to Indiana 63-61 after beating WSU in the NCAA Tournament. Guard Bradford Burgess, who scored 16 points and made the go-ahead three-pointer against WSU, is the lone starter not returning.… Guard Briante Weber set a school record with 10 steals in 18 minutes during Saturday’s win over Florida Gulf Coast.… VCU moved to the Atlantic 10 from the Colonial Athletic Association and is picked third in the preseason poll. Reddic was named to the preseason all-conference third team.

PWichita St.HtYrPtsReb
FCarl Hall6-8Sr.17.013.0
CEhimen Orukpe7-0Sr.6.07.0
GEvan Wessel6-5Fr.5.01.0
GRon Baker6-3Fr.18.04.0
GMalcolm Armstead6-0Sr.2.0x-6.0


Wichita State (1-0): The Shockers may try a zone defense against the Rams. It worked in last March’s game, helping the Shockers rally in the second half. VCU made 8 of 30 three-pointers in its opener.… Forward Cleanthony Early came off the bench to score 10 points in WSU’s opener. He made 5 of 9 shots and grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.… The Shockers usually warm up for away games with a neutral-site tournament in recent seasons. This is the first time they play a true road game as their first test since winning at George Mason in 2006.… Hall, a 64.6-percent foul shooter as a junior, made 9 of 11 in Saturday’s win after making 9 of 10 in an exhibition game. “I’ve been practicing all summer,” he said. “Coach (Chris) Jans has been on me really hard, trying to help me improve my free throws. I’m getting there.”

Carl Hall played. Ron Baker watched from the bench. Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early watched on TV. All remember March’s Wichita State-Virginia Commonwealth, even if their first impressions differ.

“Good game, we just didn’t take care of the ball in the right situations,” said Armstead, who as a redshirt didn’t travel to tournament. “You want challenges. We’ll see where we stand as a team, early, so we know what we want to work on.”

Baker, then a redshirt, remembers VCU trapping former Shocker point guard Joe Ragland mercilessly and disrupting WSU’s offense on its way to a 13-point lead. The Shockers briefly took a lead in the final minutes before losing 62-59 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Hall scored 10 points and led the Shockers with eight rebounds.

“I know you got to get in shape, because it’s up and down,” Hall said. “They’re not going to stop.”

Early, as a sophomore at Sullivan (N.Y.) County Community College, saw VCU hold his future team to a season-low in points by forcing quick shots and harassing former center Garrett Stutz into a 2-for-11 shooting performance. The style of play VCU coach Shaka Smart brands as “Havoc” played havoc with an experienced Shocker team.

“They’re fast, they’re long, they’re athletic, they like to trap and they’ll press you the whole game,” Early said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball.”

WSU (1-0) gets another chance to handle VCU’s pressure on Tuesday. Other than recent history, the Shockers don’t appear to enjoy much in their favor. The Rams (1-0) return four starters from last season’s team and are expected to play in front of a crowd of 7,693, their 20th consecutive sellout. They opened the season in typical VCU style on Friday with an 80-57 win over Florida Gulf Coast, scoring 33 points off 25 turnovers and 20 steals. The Shockers are breaking in six new players and trying to establish a rotation. WSU can grasp onto its BracketBusters history for some comfort — the Shockers are 7-0 in return games mandated by that series.

“It’s never great to go to VCU,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “They’ve got a great homecourt advantage. I would rather have this game later in the year, but it’s scheduled now.”

WSU got a taste of VCU’s pressure in Saturday’s 71-57 win over North Carolina Central. Central threw traps and half-court pressure at WSU that may mimic how the Rams play. Central coach LeVelle Moton uses those defenses to negate a physical disadvantage; Smart uses his physical advantage to help his defense dominate.

“We basically have some of the principles, same philosophies,” Moton said. “Shaka and I talk a lot. They do it a little more because they’re able to recruit more toward that style.”

Central caught the Shockers by surprise early in the first half. WSU committed turnovers on five straight possessions, helping Central score seven points to cut WSU’s lead to 12-11. Things will get worse against VCU if the Shockers endure similar ball-handling issues.

“It was really good practice for what we’re going to see Tuesday, except VCU does it at a pretty high level,” Marshall said. “VCU comes at you with bigger and better athletes. Their pressure is probably a little more intense, and it’s going to be on the road.”

Saturday’s win started a busy time for the Shockers, who play five games in the next nine days. It may get easier after Tuesday. Baker said the Shockers didn’t look ahead to study film on VCU before Saturday. He didn’t need any help remembering its style.

“We’re definitely going to see a lot of defenses Tuesday and a lot of traps and a lot of pressure,” he said. “They like attacking the ball with two guys on defense a lot.”

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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