Shockers want to keep on playing

WSU's players say the feel like they can make a deep run in the NIT.

03/10/2011 12:00 AM

05/01/2013 5:05 PM

The managers had to take the basketballs away from the Wichita State players after practice on Wednesday.

So if their desire to hang out, dunk, work on shooting drills, practice free throws and laugh is any indication, the Shockers still want to play.

"Everyone, for the most part, loves the game and what makes it fun is that we all like playing the game with one another," senior Aaron Ellis said. "Everyone is committed to getting better and trying to improve on things."

WSU practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, after a Monday meeting in which the players convinced coach Gregg Marshall they wanted to continue. The Shockers (24-8) are expected to receive a spot in the National Invitation Tournament on Sunday. Three losses in their past five games and the pain of not making the NCAA Tournament made it unclear to Marshall if his team wanted to play.

"I told them, if we're not going to try to compete to win games and advance in this tournament, let's not even do it," Marshall said.

"He said 'If you guys want to wrap it up, that's fine,' " Ellis said. "'But if you guys want to keep playing, I'll put everything I have into it. But, in return, the team has do the same, which is getting up extra shots and competing every day in practice.'"

The Shockers, unanimously they say, want to play.

"We want to advance and we feel like we can still play for a championship," junior Toure Murry said.

That's not to say the disappointment of losing to Indiana State in Saturday's semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference is past. But the Shockers say they can do a better job of regrouping than they did in last season's NIT.

"We feel we're a good enough team that we can still make a statement in the NIT," junior David Kyles said. "We came back with the mindset that this is our last chance to get our name back and show everybody what Wichita State basketball is all about."

The Shockers went through a similar process last season. They lost in the final of the MVC Tournament to Northern Iowa and spent a week practicing before the NIT games were announced. The NIT rewarded WSU with a No. 3 seed and a home game.

It didn't help.

Sixth-seeded Nevada led by as many as 10 points in the second half and held off a WSU rally to win 74-70 at Koch Arena.

"I didn't do a good job of getting them up for the NIT," Marshall said. "I've got to do a better job."

Practices are short this week. On Wednesday, Marshall worked without assistant coaches, all of whom were busy recruiting.

"We're trying to keep them fresh, keep them in shape," he said.

Practices, the players said, are more competitive than the ones a year ago before the NIT.

"We know the competition in the NIT, and we're going to be playing some really good teams," Ellis said. "We want to be ready. We don't want to go out how we went out last year with Nevada, on our home court."

Durley honored — WSU senior J.T. Durley was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 16 team.

Durley, a center from Pittsburg, Texas, averages 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. Joining him on the All-District team are Missouri State's Kyle Weems, Northern Iowa's Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Bradley's Andrew Warren and Missouri State's Jermaine Mallett.

WSU's Toure Murry is on the second team, joined by Creighton's Doug McDermott, Southern Illinois' Carlton Fay, Colt Ryan of Evansville and Creighton's Antoine Young.

The players from the 24 All-District teams are eligible for the NABC All-America teams announced April 2.

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