Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall started a freshman in front of sophomore David Kyles, a not-so-subtle message.
"He wasn't satisfied with my defensive effort (in WSU's exhibition game), and I also wasn't satisfied with it," Kyles said. "I think it was fuel to the fire."
With Kyles properly fueled up on offense and defense, the Shockers opened the season with an 80-64 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday at Koch Arena in the CBE Classic.
The Shockers scored 80 points and put five players in double figures without point guard Clevin Hannah, who served the first of a three-game NCAA suspension. To withstand Hannah's absence, Kyles is one of the Shockers who needs to perform. He scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, blocked two shots and made two steals. Three assists and one turnover adds up one of his most well-rounded games as a Shocker.
"David played very inspired," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. "He was doing the things we've asked him to do. He was deflecting balls. He was active."
So were most of his teammates, and it paid off on both ends of the court. It took until Feb. 21 for five Shockers to score in double figures last season. It took until March 18 for the Shockers to break 80 points. For WSU (1-0) to do both without Hannah, their leading returning scorer, qualifies as a good sign.
"It makes everybody step up and know they have to play a big role to cover up for Clevin," guard Toure Murry said. "When Clevin comes back, it's going to make us a stronger, better team."
Murry, who did most of the ball-handling in Hannah's absence, led WSU with 16 points and a career-high seven assists. He committed two turnovers and WSU had 11. Those numbers seem fantastic when compared to the mood in practice last week, when Marshall added sprints as punishment for the crazy passes driving him crazy.
Murry made good decisions for most of his 35 minutes. He set the stage for a good distributing game early when he turned down a chance to drive to the basket and flipped the ball back to Graham Hatch for an open three.
"It started with me," Murry said. "It starts with the point guard, not turning the ball over."
Center J.T. Durley made 7 of 8 shots and scored 15 points. Hatch made 2 of 4 threes and scored 12. Aaron Ellis added 11. WSU shot 46.2 percent from the field and made 8 of 19 threes.
"We were moving without the ball a lot better," Murry said. "And players are not hesitating to shoot the ball. Graham, he's starting to shoot the ball better. J.T., he did a fine job down low."
Durley got the Shockers rolling early in the game and Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) never recovered. He scored six of WSU's first eight points to provide an 8-2 lead. His three-pointer from the top of the key made it 22-6. He scored in the lane against FDU's zone for a 24-10 lead.
"The first five minutes — if (Marshall) can bottle that first five minutes for Wichita, you guys will win the league," FDU coach Greg Vetrone said. "You guys were flying."
Hannah, who is suspended for WSU's failure to certify him as an amateur before his junior season, watched in his gray sweats from the bench. He returns on Nov. 24 for the second CBE Classic game in Kansas City against either Texas or Iowa. Murry's solid performance made Hannah's absence a minor concern for one afternoon.
"Maybe Clevin does need to watch his back," Marshall said. "It will be good to have them both out there."