▪ Both teams are trying to avoid an 0-3 tournament, a fate which puts a non-conference schedule on the road to ruin.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery didn’t sound panicked after Friday’s loss to Notre Dame. Wichita State Gregg Marshall is immensely frustrated, but he also knows his team will look dramatically different soon.
“When you’re really good, you’re close to struggling,” McCaffery said. “And when you’re struggling, you’re close to being really good. It’s never as dramatic as what the final score may indicate. We played two really good teams. We played them right to the wire.”
The Shockers can say much the same thing, although their draw (Southern California, Alabama) looks easier than Iowa’s losses to Notre Dame and Dayton.
▪ Rauno Nurger is in uniform, as expected. I’m not sure if Marshall has decided on a plan, but it probably depends on how Shaq Morris plays in his first rotation in.
What can Nurger give the Shockers? He can make jump shots and the Shockers desperately need offensive threats.
If he was strong enough to defend, rebound and fight for position on the block, he would not have planned on redshirting. My guess is Nurger’s playing time is more a comment on Morris’ issues than Nurger’s ability to help this season.
▪ WSU committed 15 turnovers against USC and 10 against Alabama, which are the good signs. The Shockers aren’t totally out of whack and they can make basic passes. The problem comes when those passes arrive and plays aren’t made, as has been discussed.
The Shockers are also killing it on the offensive boards, plus-20 in the two games in Orlando. However, they’re not converting enough of those opportunities into points. Morris can help here, if he is on the court.