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Wichita State finds good use for point guards WSU likes to make use of multiple ball-handlers.

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, at 8:08 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, at 11:36 p.m.

Western Carolina at Wichita State

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Koch Arena

Records: WCU 1-1, WSU 0-0

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

TV: None

Western Carolina at Wichita State

PWestern Carolina HtYrPtsReb
FTawaski King6-8Jr.13.56.0
F Preston Ross6-4Jr.5.03.5
G Tom Tankelewicz6-4Jr.13.04.5
GTrey Sumler6-2Jr.16.0x-5.5
G Brandon Boggs6-5Jr.11.04.5

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Western Carolina (1-1): Sumler scored 21 points and had six assists and six turnovers in Sunday’s 95-68 win over Mars Hill . . Freshman G Mike Brown came off the bench to score 10 points and grab nine rebounds in 16 minutes. . .Western returns four of its top six scorers from a team that went 17-18 and won seven of its final eight games. It is picked third in the North Division of the Southern Conference by coaches, who voted Sumler to the 10-man preseason all-conference team.

PWichita St.HtYrPtsReb
FCarl Hall6-8Sr.14.512.0
CEhimen Orukpe7-0Sr.4.04.0
GEvan Wessel6-5So.4.0x-1.5
GRon Baker6-3Fr.13.53.0
GMalcolm Armstead6-0Sr.6.5x-6.0

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x-assists

Wichita State (2-0): WSU continues play in the Cancun Challenge on Saturday against Howard. It plays DePaul on Tuesday in Cancun. . . F Cleanthony Early is averaging 11.5 points off the bench. He has 23 total points. The rest of WSU’s reserves have 24 in two games.. .Baker is 6 of 14 from three-point range. The rest of the Shockers are 3 for 24. . .WSU will try to go 3-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 team started 9-0. . . WSU defeated the Catamounts 102-73 in 2001-02 at Levitt Arena.

Wichita State lives by the theory that a good point guard can always find a way to help, even if he isn’t always playing point guard.

Tuesday’s win at Virginia Commonwealth again proved the worth of playing more than one guard who can serve as a primary ball-handler. Last season’s team did the same thing. On Wednesday, the first day of the signing period, WSU added to its list of point guards, ensuring future teams will possess that versatility.

WSU (2-0) opens play in the Cancun Challenge against Western Carolina (1-1) on Thursday at Koch Arena.

On Tuesday, WSU handled VCU’s feared pressure defense in Tuesday’s 53-51 win with Malcolm Armstead handling the ball most of the time. But he got help from Demetric Williams and Ron Baker for critical stretches in the second half. Williams is primarily a point guard who also plays off the ball. Baker is a shooting guard who learned to play the point this fall when injuries sidelined other guards. With those three, and freshman Fred VanVleet in small doses, handling the ball, WSU committed only four second-half turnovers.

“Multiple point guards,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “They went small and we kind of countered them with our small lineup at times. More good ball-handlers helps you.”

Last season, Joe Ragland played the main role of point guard. Williams helped. So did Toure Murry. Their skills gave WSU three starters who could run the break and run the offense. This season, Armstead gets help from Williams and VanVleet, with Baker an improved passer and leader after practicing as point guard.

When the Shockers didn’t give up turnovers, or the easy baskets turnovers often create, the Rams couldn’t put together scoring runs. WSU robbed VCU of its main source of power and momentum.

“First of all, they have very good ball-handlers and passers,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “Secondly, they play a lot of them at one time. Thirdly, we were half a half-step slow in some of our traps and some of our rotations.”

Next year?

The Shockers are working on it. Wednesday, guards Rian Holland and D.J. Bowles announced their signings with WSU via their Twitter accounts. So did center Shaq Morris of Edmond (Okla.) Memorial. WSU also expects a signature from Chipola (Fla.) College forward Earl Watson.

WSU coaches cannot comment on recruits until they receive the signed letters of intent.

Holland, from South View (N.C.) and Bowles, from Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian fit WSU’s plan of using guards with a combination of skills. Holland (6-foot, 140 pounds) can handle the ball well enough to lead the offense and score enough to play off the ball. Bowles (6-2, 185) is a true point guard.

“Their style of play fit my game,” Bowles said. “I’m a point guard that can score and get my teammates involved.”

ESPN.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep calls Bowles a player well-suited to the Missouri Valley Conference. He sees Bowles teaming with VanVleet to give WSU good depth at point guard for the future.

“D.J. is really the consumate kind of setup guy,” Telep said. “He’s a guy who has the aptitude and the ability to run your team. He’s a rock-solid mid-major player, good decision-maker.”

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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