Wichita State’s men’s basketball team plays Sunday and then takes a Christmas holiday. The Shockers could use a few days off.
“This break coming up after Sunday will be good for (my ankle),” WSU guard Ron Baker said. “Get off my feet.”
Baker’s sprained left ankle isn’t WSU’s only injury. Backup center Kadeem Coleby is dealing with a sore big toe on his right foot that could keep him out of Sunday’s game against North Carolina Central. Forward Tekele Cotton, who is expected to play, and redshirt Shaq Morris bumped heads during Thursday’s practice.
“We’ve got a lot of guys banged up,” coach Gregg Marshall said. “I don’t think Kadeem is going to practice (Friday). He injured his toe. We had a collision with Shaq and Tekele at the very end of practice, face to face. Darius (Carter) is a little banged up. Everybody’s banged up this time of year.”
No. 11 WSU (11-0) plays North Carolina Central (7-2) at 7 p.m. Sunday at Koch Arena, looking to extend its school-record unbeaten streak to start a season. The program’s record for a winning streak is 14 (1953-54) with the 1982-83 team winning 13 in a row. After Christmas, WSU returns to action on Dec. 29 against Davidson at Koch Arena.
Baker said he is taking it easy during practice to protect the ankle, which has bothered him the past two games.
“Coach and I have been talking, and he doesn’t really want me practicing on it unless I’m 100 percent,” Baker said. “I’m playing through some soreness.”
Coleby injured his toe during Thursday’s practice and said he is unsure about playing Sunday.
“It’s real painful on the top and the bottom,” he said.
WSU is coming off wins over Tennessee and Alabama. Marshal challenged his players to not overlook North Carolina Central on a high from the SEC double dip. North Carolina Central’s resume is worthy of respect, even if it isn’t a high-profile, or even a mid-profile, school. The Eagles won at North Carolina State in November, 76-70 in overtime. They also own a win over Old Dominion and defeated Winthrop, Marshall’s former school, 72-66 on Wednesday. It lost to Cincinnati 74-61 in its opener and lost 71-65 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis earlier this month.
North Carolina Central, 3-2 in road games, is No. 97 in the power rankings (RPI), a rare perch for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team. The Eagles return three starters from a team that went 22-9 and 15-1 in its conference last season for coach LeVelle Mouton. WSU defeated North Carolina Central 71-57 in last season’s opener at Koch Arena.
“In college basketball today, you better be ready,” Marshall said. “And that’s the biggest thing that I’ve talked to my team about. You’ve got to respect your opponent. You’ve to give everything you’ve got. Anything short of that, you’re setting yourself up for failure, ultimately.”