The changing lineups and absence of senior guard Clevin Hannah make it difficult to draw too many conclusions from WSU’s 81-69 exhibition win over NCAA Division II Newman on Saturday. The Shockers didn’t do anything to change preseason predictions. They looked good at times. They struggled at times, as 19 turnovers show. Things will look different when coach Gregg Marshall can limit his rotation to fewer players.
Let’s start with 81 points. Last season, WSU passed 80 points once. The Shockers made only five three-pointers. They made 16 of 18 free throws. They shot 50.8 percent from the field. That’s a solid offensive night for a team that needs to score more points. And they did it without Hannah, their leading returning scorer.Graham Hatch made 3 of 5 three-pointers. Last season, Hatch did everything but shoot well (16 of 61 from three). He works harder than any Shocker, so it must be great for him to see that work pay off, even if it’s just one night. Hatch made three threes in last season’s opener and then didn’t make more than one in a game until the MVC Tournament. Good start for an important part of the lineup.David Kyles played the game in a disturbingly nonchalant manner. He’s got a chance to be a big part of this team. He needs to be more locked in than he was on Saturday, especially on defense.Kyles wasn’t alone in defensive shortcomings. The Newman guards dribbled past the Shocker guards numerous times for shots in the lane, especially in the first half. WSU gave up 69 points, too many for that situation.
“Our guards were a little tenative defensively,” Marshall said. “Their guards certainly didn’ t fear our guards.”
Freshman Demetric Williams impressed Marshall. He did enough to make a case for playing time as a backup point guard. He made 4 of 7 shots and scored 11 points.J.T. Durley did some admirable dirty work with nine rebounds and taking three charges.It bothered me that WSU didn’t exploit its size advantage in the second half when things got close. It didn’t seem as if the big men got enough touches during the final 10 minutes or so.Garrett Stutz, like Hatch, started the season with a big boost of confidence. He made 6 of 7 shots for 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds. His dunks showed his work in the weight room is paying off. He still has work to do on his mobility and strength, but he is improving.WSU expects to know something about Hannah’s status this week. Marshall said that doesn’t mean he will play in Sunday’s opener against Fairleigh Dickinson. Marshall and AD Eric Sexton say Hannah isn’t in danger of missing the season. Reading between the lines, that seems to indicate a short suspension is a possibility. If it’s more than two games, it’s a problem. WSU needs Hannah for CBE Classic games in Kansas City against Pitt and Texas or Iowa. Losing Hannah for those games because of a “paperwork” problem would be a major downer.Holding out on the Hannah information until after Saturday’s game seems like a strange move. It took the focus off the game, which should have been a feel-good moment for both schools. Instead of talking about the game, people are talking about Hannah’s plight. That could have been avoided. Why make your fans sit through the game wondering when it’s not necessary?