Last season, that game is a grind. Wichita State wins, but it’s closer and uglier. You can talk a lot about other aspects of the game. Everything is easier when you can make shots. The Shockers didn’t shoot a ridiculously high percentage in Sunday’s 80-64 win (46.2 and 42.1 from three for the game). They showed enough that we can continue to think there is a good chance WSU will be improved on offense from 2009. We will know more after the CBE Classic, when the Shockers face much stronger defensive tests.
I was out in front of ignoring Aaron Ellis when thinking about this team over the summer and fall. He is starting and I don’ t think he will give up that spot. He is exactly what WSU needs – a solid, unselfish rebounder and defender. He is also capable of scoring big on some nights. Gabe Blair has some rough edges to smooth off. If he is your backup power forward, that’s pretty solid.I can’t remember the last time WSU had four solid big men (all with at least one or two valuable skills) with experience on the roster. The Turgeon teams won with some under-sized forwards and power forwards who played some on the perimeter. WSU has inside depth many teams can’t match. Foul trouble didn’t matter much on Sunday.One of the best ways to get open shots is to reverse the ball from one side to the other and catch the defense moving. That works best when the reversal guy can hit a jumper. The past two seasons, WSU’s reversal guy sometimes wasn’t a threat. Now WSU has four perimeter players – Murry, Kyles, Hatch, Williams – who are shooters. That should also help with beating double teams in the post.WSU coach Gregg Marshall expressed concern with the defense, with reason. The Shockers gave up too much penetration early in the game. FDU made 13 of 23 shots in the second half. Blair fell for a pump-fake and gave up a dunk. At times, such as the first five minutes of the game, WSU’s defense became a disruptive, hustling force. Ellis at the front of the press will be a problem for other teams.Like the redshirt decisions. Tyler Richardson would rarely play on this team. Jerome Hamilton even less. Both will look back on this decision happily in a few years.My feel on Kenny Manigault is that he is going through normal freshman adjustments. When he gets comfortable, perhaps in mid-January, he will be a big help. He can cause problems defensively and his speed will be an asset on fastbreaks. Once he gets to the point where his athletic ability can work for him, he is a booster shot.
Around the MVC
Bradley guard Dodie Dunson is out of the season with an injury. That’s a big blow to the Braves. They are deep in the backcourt. Not deep enough to skip past this injury without some pain. Injuries continue to be a big story in the MVC.Braves freshman guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards (henceforth known as DSE for time’s sake) will get Dunson’s minutes. He is off to a good start.Why did Illinois State play a game at Division I newbie Southern Illinois-Edwardsville? Jim Benson says there are good reasons.