Garrett Stutz dunks against Newman. I imagine Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall got pretty much what he wanted out of Wednesday’s 80-62 exhibition win over Newman. The Shockers did enough things wrong that he has plenty to address and should have their attention. Even without injured forward Gabe Blair, the Shockers played 10 deep. Marshall’s talk of enjoying a quick hook for players who aren’t producing is no joke.
On the other hand, I thought WSU looked decent for stretches in the second half. We got some tastes of why excitement is so high for this team, albeit mixed in with mistakes and missed free throws. Like most exhibition games, it took awhile for the jitters to calm. The Shockers will play more smoothly as time goes on.
I was incorrect about redshirts playing in exhibition games in a story earlier this week. Only first-year players (freshmen and juco transfers) can play in scrimmages and exhibitions without burning a redshirt year. Returners, such as Aaron Ellis, cannot. I asked, but I didn’t do a good job clarifying my question. I also didn’t ask the right person. WSU associate athletic director Korey Torgerson set me straight. Here’s the rule: During a student-athlete’s initial year of enrollment at the certifying institution, he or she may compete in preseason exhibition contests and preseason practice scrimmages (as permitted in the particular sport per Bylaw 17) without counting such competition as a season of competition. An alert reader alerted me to my mistake, so thanks. With the injuries to Blair and Jerome Hamilton, Ellis’ status probably became a moot point. He played and, barring something unexpected, won’t redshirt. I liked the unselfishness WSU showed in the second half against Newman’s zone. That was an opportunity to jack up shots, and I saw several Shockers making “extra” passes to get better shots. Last season’s team made 74.6 percent of its free throws, best in WSU history. It lost Clevin Hannah, who made 90.4 percent of his free throws. WSU made 26 of 39 against Newman (66.7 percent). That doesn’t look good. However, the starters made 13 of 17 (76.4 percent). I think WSU will again be a good team from the line. It would help if David Kyles, a guy who should get fouled a lot, would shoot better. He is a good shooter, so it seems like he should be better from the line. He is a 66-percent free-throw shooter for his career and I would bet that improves. Ehimen Orukpe dunked once and grabbed 11 rebounds. He made two defensive plays that hint at his potential and progress. He didn’t fall for a pump fake in the lane and stood his ground with his arms straight up. If he can do that, he helps a lot on defense. Later, he challenged a shot near the free-throw line and moved quickly enough to grab the rebound near the basket. Joe Ragland said he played his best when teamed with Demetric Williams. We might not see that combo much this season, but it’s something to remember for next season. “When we’re out there together, he makes it easier on both of us,” Ragland said. “I feed off him. He feeds off me. I don’t have to always go run and get the ball. I can get out and fill in the lanes.” Marshall didn’t feel threatened when Heights senior Evan Wessel took a recruiting visit for football at Kansas. Wessel, who signed with WSU on Wednesday, told Marshall that basketball was his sport.
Around the MVC
The Peoria Journal Star looks at Bradley’s season, which may be a turning point for coach Jim Les. For every positive under Les, there’s a negative. How this season plays out may determine his future. A look at each team from the Springfield News-Leader. And from the Peoria Journal Star. Bradley has three recruits locked up, with a fourth on the way. Les has a 7-footer to develop. Creighton is getting bigger with its recruiting class. Southern Illinois adds two big men from a military school. Five new Panthers are ready to come to Cedar Falls. WSU isn’t the only place where much is expected. Missouri State fans are looking forward to March. Indiana State depends on two players with limited MVC experience to lead. Jake Kelly and Dwayne Lathan are talented enough to make it work. The pressure is on for MVC teams to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. This one-bid-a-season stuff doesn’t work financially. Illinois State went heavy on guards for its recruiting class.