Gregg Marshall wouldnt be where he is today if he didnt pick a nit from time to time. Its what coaches do, in all sports and at all levels.
And the really good ones can find concerns even in a 17-point win, which is why Marshall was stoic after the Shockers thumped William & Mary on Thursday night at Koch Arena.
Thank goodness for second halves, he said.
Thank goodness indeed. Because the thumping certainly didnt happen in the first 20 minutes.
The Shockers seemed blindsided by William & Marys first-half offensive assault. The Tribe, coming off a 13-17 season in 2012-13 and picked to finish fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association, went up 13-3 on a team that seven months ago played in the Final Four.
And the game wasnt even four minutes old.
The Tribe was scoring inside and outside. And the Shockers looked flat, as if the late finish of the Monday night/Tuesday morning game against Western Kentucky was lingering.
Wichita State did get to within 39-38 by halftime, but not because of the big men who will have to carry this team in the interior.
Six-foot-nine, 251-pound Kadeem Coleby, 6-9, 266-pound Chadrack Lufile and 6-7, 235-pound Darius Carter combined for one first-half rebound.
Lets just say they werent exactly pushing their weight around.
Coleby is playing his first season for WSU after transferring from Louisiana-Lafayette. Carter is a junior college transfer and Lufile played limited minutes last season. So you can make a case that they are still finding their way.
Or you can make the case that theyre playing soft and not doing what Gregg Marshall expects them to do. I suspect thats the case Marshall made at halftime because Coleby, Lufile and Carter were a lot more active in the second half, which coincided with Wichita State blowing open the game.
They had seven rebounds among them in the second half. Still not great, but a lot better than one. And Coleby was the main instigator in a offensive flurry to open the second half, scoring six of his in the first 4:44.
I had a bad first half so I was trying to catch up a little there in the second half, Coleby said. Just trying to help get us back on track.
The Shockers three big men also scored 15 of their 19 points in the second half.
Those guys didnt do anything in the first half, Marshall said. One rebound between the three of them. Thats obviously not going to get it done. What they did in the second half is certainly better and it was good enough to get us a 17-point win.
Its going to be interesting to watch this team develop. The Shockers are set on the perimeter with point guard Fred VanVleet and wing players Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton.
Cleanthony Early is a preseason honorable mention All-American as a small forward. He scored 14 points to go with nine rebounds against William & Mary and is a centerpiece of this team.
Trying to figure out the center position is the biggest challenge of the early season for Marshall and his coaching staff. The good thing is that theres a lot of size to work with.
Coleby, Lufile and Carter look good in an airport. And they could probably pick up a 747.
But theyve got to be more active, especially on the backboards. Its something they hear every day.
WSU had a size advantage over William & Mary, but won the rebounding battle by only 38-30.
The Shockers second leading rebounder Thursday night was the 6-2 Cotton, who had eight. Four more than Carter, five more than Lufile and six more than Coleby.
Rebounding is something we have to do as big men, Lufile said. Obviously, thats something the coaches are going to enforce. We have to do a better job.
Marshall has said hell go with the hot hand in the post. Coleby so far has looked like the most-accomplished offensive player and a favorite target of lob passes from WSUs perimeter players.
But Carter came to the Shockers with impressive credentials, having averaged 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds for Vincennes (Ind.) Junior College last season. He had a season-high 31 points and 21 rebounds in a game against Lake Land.
So far as a Shocker, though, he hasnt found a rhythm. He did find Marshalls doghouse late in Thursdays game after forcing up a shot against a triple-team.
Its a good bet Carter will settle in and become a productive player. Theres no reason why Coleby and Lufile cant do the same.
The good news is that the Shockers have three really big guys to mix and match.
Other than that one shot, I thought Darius was good, Marshall said. He played pretty hard, had four defensive rebounds. Hes just got to continue to get better. We like him in practice and think hes going to be a big part of our team.
Hes probably right. Until then, though, its understandable to nitpick. Thats how teams improve.