One of Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s highest compliments is “ball-getter.”
Former Shocker Ramon Clemente — ball-getter. Last season’s starting center Carl Hall — ball-getter.
None of his big men are in that rank, yet. Marshall, searching for issues after Saturday’s 73-29 exhibition win over Oklahoma Baptist, settled on poor rebounding from his post men. They didn’t get enough basketballs.
“They’ve got to rebound their area,” Marshall said. “Ideally, you’ve got to rebound at least your area, and then some other folks’ area. You’ve got to go out and get some balls that are not right in your area to be a great rebounder. Sometimes, we don’t even get the ones that are in our area.”
The Shockers, playing against an NAIA team it overmatched in every physical category, out-rebounded Oklahoma Baptist 45-26. Starting center Chadrack Lufile grabbed one rebound in 11 minutes. Power forward Darius Carter totaled one in 12 minutes. Center Kadeem Coleby played 19 minutes off the bench and finished with six rebounds. Freshman center Shaq Morris had three in 10 minutes.
Marshall isn’t basing his assessment solely on Saturday. He’s got weeks of practice and a scrimmage against Baylor to consider.
“When it’s right above you, you’ve got to be able make space and go get it with two hands, and maybe growl a little bit coming out of the air,” he said. “We’re not doing that yet.”
The players say improving their rebounding is part technique and part desire. Too often, they are pushing and holding with their hands to box out, meaning their hands are low and not prepared to grab a basketball coming off the rim. Marshall wants more body and hands high in a ready position.
“We were trying to use our hands, which we’re not supposed to do,” Coleby said. “The balls were flying all over the place.”
Rebounding is a major issue to Marshall, who made dominating the backboards a tradition since his arrival.
Last season, WSU led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebound-margin (plus-7.9), defensive rebound percentage (grabbing .735 percent of the available rebounds while defenders) and offensive rebound percentage (.380). Since Marshall took over in 2007-08, the Shockers have led the MVC in rebound margin and offensive rebound percentage every season. They led in defensive rebound percentage four times, never finishing lower than third.
“We drill that almost every day and he emphasizes it as much as possible,” Carter said. “A lot of it is desire. You’ve got to do the technique, but you’ve got to want the rebound.”
Early on preseason team — WSU senior Cleanthony Early was one of 16 players who received votes for the Associated Press preseason All-America team. Early, a 6-foot-8 forward, led the Shockers with an average of 13.9 points last season and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, Louisville’s Russ Smith and Mitch McGary of Michigan were named to the All-America team, voted on by 65 writers and broadcasters.