March 20, 2011

Intensity key for revived Wichita State against Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. —Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg can't be expected to say anything other than the best about his next opponent.

BLACKSBURG, Va. —Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg can't be expected to say anything other than the best about his next opponent.

Maybe he is just playing the game. Maybe he is looking at Wichita State with fresh eyes.

"I spent the whole day watching them and was very impressed," he said. "They've got depth, size, athleticism. They share the ball."

Over the past three weeks, it became easy to forget how well the Shockers (25-8) are capable of playing. They displayed all those assets and more in Wednesday's 76-49 National Invitation Tournament win over Nebraska. Their job is to keep that roll going in today's second-round game against Virginia Tech (22-11).

"We keep that same intensity and we'll be all right," WSU senior Aaron Ellis said. "We've got to come ready to execute our game plan and be ready to defend."

Defending the Hokies starts with senior guard Malcolm Delaney, an All-ACC selection who averages 18.4 points. He shoots 41.5 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the line.

"He can shoot the spot-up three and he can put the ball on the floor," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. "He's a dynamic scorer. He's coming at you a lot of different ways."

Other than Delaney, the Hokies don't do a lot of damage from behind the arc. They score in the lane with forward Jeff Allen and center Victor Davila. They are also good on the fast break.

"Our main focus is getting back in transition," WSU sophomore Demetric Williams said. "They're very athletic. They like to rebound."

WSU proved its enthusiasm for the NIT in crushing the Huskers. Now the Shockers are two wins away from a trip to New York for the semifinals. They revived their offense with a crisp, efficient game. A week-plus of practice re-established fundamentals, starting with the importance of working inside with the big men before shooting three-pointers.

Center J.T. Durley burned the Nebraska double teams and his teammates made 11 of 26 three-pointers. The Shockers aren't going to shoot that hot every game. They increase their odds by continuing to trust the offense to create good shots. WSU recorded 18 assists on 24 baskets and shot 46.2 percent from the field.

"We really moved the ball well," Marshall said. "We were so locked in to our responsibilities."

With the ball zipping from player to player, the Shockers didn't need to do a lot of dribbling or freelancing. Those situations often results in turnovers. On Wednesday, WSU committed 11, three of them in the final three minutes with deep reserves on the floor.

"Keep making solid plays, and not trying to do too much — just executing," Williams said. "Everybody shared the ball and got involved."

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