The lessons Gregg Marshall wants Wichita State to learn this season have come without a cost.
Even when the Shockers struggle, like when they turned the ball over 19 times in last Sunday’s 72-69 victory at Air Force, they are finding ways to produce wins.
The reward has been an 8-0 start and a No. 24 ranking for Wichita State, which plays host to Northern Colorado tonight at Koch Arena.
“Lesson learned without being burned,” Marshall phrased it to his team.
“We went over the video with a fine-tooth comb. We showed them every single breakdown, every single silly pass, and hopefully we get better by seeing it without having to suffer an ‘L.’”
National attention is slowly starting to cling to WSU’s success. Sports Illustrated and ESPN have taken notice, posting stories about the Shockers this week.
But Marshall has his team trained to one thought. As he quips at them, “don’t ingest the poison pill of success.”
“8-0 is good, but we’re not playing to the potential we’re supposed to be,” senior forward Carl Hall said. “We’re not executing our plays. Right now we’re basically playing off our defense. We got a long ways to go.”
The problems on offense center around WSU drifting away from Marshall’s preferred method of success, playing from the inside-out.
Too often the Shockers settle for outside shots, instead of establishing the offense through Hall, who already has four double-doubles this season, and Cleanthony Early in the post.
“You get so much done if you dominate the paint,” senior guard Demetric Williams said. “If you got bigs dominating the paint, then the defense has to collapse and that’s when guards like me, Ron Baker, Malcolm (Armstead) all get wide open shots. You get offense so much easier when you play inside-out.”
Saturday should be another experiment in that direction, as Marshall continues to tinker with his team before its biggest non-conference test on Tuesday when WSU travels to Knoxville to take on the Volunteers.
But right now the Shockers’ top priority is improving So far the flawless record has been nice, but players recognize what means more come March.
“We’re focused on trying to finish what we started,” Hall said. “It ain’t about what you do at the start of the season. We want to be a top-25 team at the end of the season.”
Orupke update — Marshall said he is not “anticipating” senior Ehimen Orukpe to play against Northern Colorado. Orukpe underwent a CT scan on Friday to rule out a stress fracture. WSU is still treating the injury like a sprained ankle and all X-rays have come back negative.