Getting Carl Hall in shape last season scared Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall. It scared Hall, too.
Hall came to WSU with a heart arrhythmia, a condition that sidelined him for most of the 2007-08 season in junior college. He fainted in a game in 2011 while at Northwest Florida State College and missed two games. At WSU, Marshall didn’t know when or how to challenge him in conditioning. Even though he controlled the condition with medication, Hall wasn’t sure of his limits, either. He sat out some running drills as a precaution or when he didn’t feel right.
“He was reluctant to push himself,” Marshall said. “We were at an impasse, and it was difficult.”
Hall, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, played 30 minutes in Thursday’s win over Western Carolina. On Tuesday, he played 36 in a win at Virginia Commonwealth. Impasse solved, as those minutes prove. Last season, Hall averaged 22 minutes a game and played more than 30 five times.
Hall received a waiver from the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility as compensation for the one lost to the heart condition. Marshall told him he didn’t want to be the bad guy responsible for forcing him to run. That burden moved from coach to player.
“He told me he didn’t want to get me in shape, he wanted me to get myself in my shape,” Hall said.
Hall spent hours in the summer and fall running on the track and the treadmill and riding a stationary bike. He wanted to be tired when he reported for practices to add another layer of conditioning. All along, he knew he needed to show himself the heart condition didn’t hold him back.
“He knew he was going to have to play a lot this year,” guard Demetric Williams said. “He worked tremendously hard in the weight room.”
Marshall sees an athlete in excellent shape and Hall’s early season numbers are impressive. He scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds on Thursday, raising his season averages to 15.0 and 9.7.
“He took it upon himself, coming back for that sixth year, wanting to play at the highest level of professional basketball that he can, to get in great shape,” Marshall said. “And he worked on his game, as well.”
Hall’s time in the gym is showing up most prominently at the foul line. He made 6 of 6 free throws on Thursday and is 15 of 18 (83.3 percent) for the season. As a junior, he made 64.6 percent, rising to 69.2 in Missouri Valley Conference games. Fatigue, Hall said, played a role. When his legs grew weary, his concentration and form suffered at the line and shots came up short.
Now he focuses on his routine of three dribbles and bending his legs.
“Get a good look at the goal and use more of my legs when I’m shooting,” he said. “Good players make them count.”
Hall’s quick post moves and willingness to power to the basket against defenders is made for drawing fouls. He shot 96 free throws last season, behind departed seniors Garrett Stutz (92 of 112) and Toure Murry (105 of 133).
“You’ve got to attack,” Hall said. “You’ve got to get the other bigs in foul trouble, and also score.”