Wichita State senior Aaron EllisFive Wichita State seniors play their final regular-season home game on Wednesday against Creighton. J.T. Durley, Gabe Blair, Aaron Ellis, Graham Hatch and Derek Brown answered questions about their experiences at WSU.J.T. DurleyQ. What’s your favorite moment in Koch Arena?
A. Maybe one of Toure Murry’s game-winners in Koch Arena (in 2009). You don’t see many game-winners in Koch Arena. It’s just a great feeling.
Q. What advice would you give a newcomer to this program?
A. Stay strong, and learn how to face adversity. DI basketball is a tough sport to play. You’ve got to be mentally and physically tough, and you’ve got to come with it every day.
Q. What’s in the future for you?
A. I’ve got plenty of time to think about it after the season. I would love to keep playing. I graduate in May, and that’s my main concern right now.
Coach Gregg Marshall on Durley: Personal growth. He has really matured. Very, very pleased with his growth, his maturity, his evolution as a young person.
Gabe BlairQ. What will you remember most about the crowd at Koch Arena?
A. The thing I’ll probably remember is when a game’s on the line, and the opposing team is taking free throws, you can’t even hear yourself think and the crowd is just roaring. Nine times out of 10, it works.
Q. What advice would you give a new player coming into this program?
A. Be appreciative of what you’ve got. Play hard, and try to stay focused on the goal at hand. These fans deserve a championship every year.
Q. What is in your future?
A. Hopefully, I’m going to take a long nap. Two or three days. After that, I’m going to try to play professionally somewhere. I want to get my name out there and take care of my family.
Marshall on Blair: If it’s going to happen, Gabe’s going to be involved. He’s going to be involved in the loose-ball scrum, the big rebound. He’s a lightning rod for activity. I’m glad he’s been able to win his last two years.
Derek BrownQ. What is the sense of accomplishment for this group at leading the rebuilding of this program?
A. This is a great group of seniors and leaders, and great examples on and off the court for the younger guys. I think we’ve helped build a solid program with showing the way for the next couple years. This group of seniors has been really strong in getting this program back where it should be.
Q. What is your favorite memory from Koch Arena?
A. A personal moment for me is the Evansville game this year. I got in late in the game and I ended up hitting back-to-back threes. It was the first game my older brother (Mitch) had ever gotten to come to since I’ve been here. He’s in the Coast Guard, so he hasn’t been able to attend any. He’s flying in (Wednesday) for senior night. That was real memorable for me.
Q. What advice would you give to a newcomer to WSU?
A. It’s kind of a cliche, but just day in and day out work as hard as you can. You don’t realize how much it helps you improve every day just to give everything you can – and also it helps the team. The harder you work, the harder the next guy has to work.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. I graduated in December in Sport Management, and I’m looking to get into coaching. I may try to find a graduate assistant spot here, or somewhere else, or start looking for a coaching job right away.
Q. If I were to make you NCAA commissioner for a day, what would you change?
A. There’s one rule I would change, and that’s the back-court 10-second count being reset after a timeout. In the NBA, they’ve got eight seconds to get it across, and if they call timeout at six seconds, when they inbound the ball after the timeout, they’ve only got two seconds to get the ball across half-court. I think it takes away from the defense working so hard to get the shot clock to 26 or 27, and then they can call timeout and reset it.
Marshall on Brown: Of that group, the coach. He has the possibility that he can coach. He loves the game. He has a mind for the game. He can really shoot it.
Aaron EllisQ. What will run through your mind running through the tunnel before the game?
A. Honestly, it probably won’t even hit me until after the game. During the game, you’re not really thinking about that. You’re thinking about trying to execute and what you’ve got to do to win.
Q. What is it about Koch Arena that makes it a special place to play?
A. The fans. Definitely the student section. It’s like you build a little family away from home with fans and the people on campus. Everyone wants to see us do well. It feels good to have support from people that genuinely care about you and really know you.
Q. What is your favorite moment from Koch Arena?
A. It will probably be my senior night, when I have all my family here.
Q. What advice would you give a newcomer to WSU basketball?
A. Follow the old guys. Follow your upperclassmen. They’re not going to lead you wrong. They know the ropes and how things work.
Q. What’s in your future?
A. I haven’t thought about it yet. I’m still focused on the season and trying to win a championship and school right now. I don’t want to look too far ahead.
Marshall on Ellis: Consumate team player. Defender. Screener. He sacrifices personal stats and glory for the overall good.
Graham HatchQ. What’s your favorite memory of Koch Arena?
A. Just the atmosphere and the fans. The perfect example is Southern Illinois, it was a blizzard outside. People still showed up. When I look back when I’m older, that’s what I’m going to remember – the great support we received through the good and bad times.
Q. What advice would you give newcomers to the program?
A. The best advice, automatically, is play as hard as you can on defense. If you focus on defense and rebounding, you’ll do well. You’ll play. You’ll have success. With Coach Marshall, those are huge. Your offense will come.
Q. What are your plans after college?
A. It’s up in the air right now. Dental school is definitely not out of the question. I’m looking into other (paths) that are a lot different than Dental school, like the FBI. I’m just exploring it right now. If I get an opportunity to play overseas, and get paid to do it, I will definitely take that.
Q. Where did you improve the most during your four years at WSU?
A. Just overall toughness when it comes to defense and rebounding. I didn’t have that in high school. Coach Marshall really showed me how soft I was as a player and he really turned that around for me. It’s really impacted a lot of aspects of my life and how I approach things with that tough mental, physical attitude. I think it’s really going to serve me well in the future.
Marshall on Hatch: Self-made player. Driven. Dedicated. Tough as nails.