Nobody doubted Shaq Morris’ ability to dunk, that he knows of. Just in case, he gave non-believers something to remember in Edmond (Okla.) Memorial’s 73-65 win over Southmoore in mid-January.
Morris, according to Memorial coach Shane Cowherd, dunked 14 of his 16 shots to score 34 points against an undersized opponent.
“I just figured every time I got the ball, I was going to score,” Morris said. “I wanted to finish hard and show people I could do whatever I wanted to.”
Basketball isn’t that easy for Morris all the time. That performance is an indication of where he can go. Morris, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound senior, signed with Wichita State in November. He averages around 17 points and nine rebounds for Edmond Memorial, which was 14-2 and ranked No. 2 in Class 6A entering the weekend. Cowherd said Morris is shooting 78 percent from the field.
“Offensively, he’s made huge, huge progress,” Cowherd said. “He’s using great technique, using his body to get post position. He’s an explosive young man.”
Cowherd is particularly impressed with Morris using his brain and feet to win the battle for space in the lane. He sees Morris thinking two passes ahead to give guards a target. He is also making more 15-foot jump shots.
“He’s expanded his post moves, and because of that, is dominant around the rim,” Cowherd said. “Collegiately, he’s going to need to be able to expand (his shooting range). That’s a skill he can do.”
Morris wouldn’t mind taking a few three-pointers. Cowherd will let Shocker coach Gregg Marshall develop that skill.
“I wish I had the green light like my guards,” Morris said.
Morris made his first visit to a Shocker game last month to see WSU defeat Creighton. He watched senior center Carl Hall closely and recognizes he needs to work hard in the weight room when he arrives at WSU in late June. He can’t wait to visit for another game.
“It was a crazy vibe,” he said. “I love all the fans. That made me look forward to playing in Koch Arena.”
Wichita State will be a home team, either Feb. 22 or 23.
Some candidates (RPI rank and record entering the weekend):
ESPN.com’s Andy Katz predicts Detroit will come to Koch Arena, writing “Shockers would get a decent RPI game, but not a game changer for the tourney.”
He sees Ohio playing at Indiana State and Illinois State at Davidson in TV games. Creighton will play at Saint Mary’s in the weekend’s prominent game, by his figuring.
Return games remain part of the contract, even though this is the last season for BracketBusters.
Last season, WSU traveled to tournaments at Baylor, Arizona State and Oklahoma.
WSU’s four 2013 tournaments aren’t as ambitious, although it will face No. 1 Alabama, defending national champion, in the Florida Gulf Coast Spring Tournament and Mississippi State in the Blues City Classic. The tournaments are filled with schools Bredbenner believes the Shockers, picked eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference, can compete with.
“We’ve got a pretty good mix,” Bredbenner said. “This is a realistic schedule for where we’re at. There are some tough games, but there are some games we need to win.”
Finding the right tournament can be a challenge. Some coaches prefer to keep their fields a secret so they don’t scare possible entrants off with a loaded schedule. Bredbenner didn’t want to sign up for tournaments and then find the bracket filled with national powers. She managed to avoid any surprises this spring by dealing with trusted coaches and being persistent about the field.
“You get inundated with invitations to be in their tournament, but very few coaches will be open and honest with you about who exactly is in their tournament,” she said.
Bredbenner enjoys the luxury of playing No. 2 Oklahoma, the NCAA runner-up, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Kansas in weekend series or mid-week games. The Shockers open their home schedule against the Sooners on March 6.
“I think it’s probably the best team we’ve ever had here to play at Wilkins Stadium,” Bredbenner said.
“The Shockers can nearly start honing their game plan for (NCAA) regionals,” wrote GolfWeek’s Lance Ringler. “With three wins and a second in the fall, the MVC championship is essentially a formality.”
GolfWeek ranks WSU No. 48 nationally. Illinois State, No. 165 nationally, is the picked second in the conference. WSU opens the spring season on Feb. 11 at the Texas-San Antonio Oak Hills Invitational.