Destination: St. Louis Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall talked to the media on Wednesday. I listened in on speaker phone from a parking lot in Olathe. A few bullets from his session:
Offense is a big emphasis in practice this week. WSU’s no-assist performance in the first half at Missouri State hurts for a team that is built on unselfish play. Marshall said that shows his players were trying to make too many home-run passes and shots and not running the offense. “We have to execute better on offense,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll defend and rebound.” For the first time, a WSU coach was asked about positive experience in St. Louis carrying over to the next appearance. Other than Clevin Hannah, all the Shockers who played in last season’s championship loss to Northern Iowa are back. If nothing else, the Shockers have been there and know what to expect. “Now it’s time to finish that deal and get a tournament title,” Marshall said. The Shockers are healthy. Gabe Blair twisted his knee during a pileup on Saturday (when he was called for an intentional foul). He practiced Sunday and Monday. Garrett Stutz has been slowed a bit by a bad ankle, but that is improving, Marshall said. Missouri State’s enthusiastic playing to the crowd did not go unnoticed by the Shockers. You can bet the images from that game will be displayed again should the teams meet, if they aren’t already on display. Marshall said it was painful for the Shockers to take in all the chest-thumping, arm-waving and the throat slash by MSU’s Kyle Weems after a blocked shot. “It was a great atmosphere, and their kids got caught up in it,” Marshall said. “I know we’ve got a lot of guys that have pride and want to win.” As the Shockers know, there is one way to stop Missouri State’s gestures, and that’s to win if they meet on Sunday. Marshall was pleased with his team’s All-MVC honors, noting that it took until the end of the season for recognition. WSU didn’t receive a player or newcomer of the week honor during the regular season. He also found it curious that voters (coaches, media and media relations) named WSU the Defensive Team of the Year and didn’t put a Shocker on the All-Defense team. “I guess we’re doing it with smoke and mirrors,” he said.