▪ Evan Payne will be on of the best players who visits Wichita this season, in a class with the Oklahoma State guards, Northern Iowa’s Jeremy Morgan and, apparently, South Dakota State’s Mike Daum.
The Long Beach State junior guard averaged 18 points in 2014-15 at Loyola Marymount. He made 35.2 percent of his three-pointers and 79.1 percent of his free throws. He’s a scorer, not a passer, who dominated the ball during his two seasons at LMU before transferring.
WSU fans might remember him scoring 15 points, nine from the line, against the Shockers in the Diamond Head Classic in 2014. Ron Baker should certainly remember this dunk by Payne.
Here’s a longer highlight video, with a longer look at the play against WSU in 2014. Not many players dribble unimpeded from the top of the key to dunk on the Shockers.
This will be a game that tests Wichita State’s guards. They’re going to have to play well against Payne and junior Justin Bibbins. That will start with handling Long Beach State’s presses and include defending Payne and Bibbins in all areas.
In 2014, we saw the first signs WSU’s Zach Brown could be a defensive stopper against Payne. The 11th-ranked Shockers won 80-53 and knew enough of Payne to regard him highly.
“Coach told me to ready for him,” Brown said after that game. “He’s actually telling me that he’s ready for me to take the next step and be able to continue to go against these top-level guys. I’m actually pretty honored that he put me on him.”
Landry Shamet will probably get first shot at Payne. Brown will probably take his minutes. WSU’s history is to put several defenders on a big scorer to give him different looks and wear him down. We will know more about which players Gregg Marshall trusts on defense by watching Payne.
▪ We will also know more about the rotation after this game.
The 49ers will press and look to score quickly. Players trusted to handle the ball, play defense and be in the right spots will play. That might mean a shorter rotation than in the first two games.
Who do coaches trust? Check the minutes played around 9 p.m.
▪ The 49ers have one player taller than 6-foot-8, and he is a redshirt freshman. Last season, they blocked shots on 6.8 percent of their defensive possessions to rank near the bottom of the nation.
The Shockers scored well in the lane in the first two games this season and the potential for that to continue exists.
▪ This game reminds me of WSU’s trip to VCU to start the 2012-13 season.
Those Shockers went into VCU with Carl Hall and Demetric Williams known quantities and a pretty good feeling about Ron Baker, Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early. There was a lot of mystery and intrigue to that game.
Tonight’s game is similar. WSU’s track record suggests it will play well. However, this is on a bunch of guys who haven’t had to play many games as the leading men. I’m interested to see how the Shockers respond against the Big West favorites.
▪ Watching: Cox 22, Time Warner Sports Channel (Kansas City), ESPN3.com (blackouts apply)
▪ Listening: KEYN, 103.7-FM, goshockers.com