▪ What does a successful Shockers team look like without guard Fred VanVleet?
Even with VanVleet, WSU didn’t play at a fast pace. I expect it to play slower without him, because nobody can run the break like he did. The Shockers aren’t going to play as efficiently on offense; they have to compensate with defense and rebounding and low-mistake basketball. The thing WSU has on its side is front-court depth, so any strategy that maximizes big men makes sense.
The Shockers draw so much confidence and swagger from VanVleet. A good start seems important for the younger players to feel success and envision themselves playing well without him.
▪ WSU should enjoy home-court advantage. I have yet to see a Trojans fan. The crowds will be good all week. Dayton and Xavier take basketball as seriously as WSU. Iowa and Notre Dame should also travel well.
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▪ Sophomores Zach Brown and Shaq Morris must play better than they have in WSU’s 2-1 start. Both played poorly at Tulsa and neither stood out in the other two games. Brown played well in practice on Wednesday and he will get plenty of minutes with WSU’s depleted backcourt.
▪ I will be interested to see how much teams press WSU. I would trust Ron Baker and Evan Wessel to break a press and Wessel only as a secondary ball-handler. I would also consider pressing Baker to wear him down. He is WSU’s primary ball-handler, leader and scorer.
▪ Thirty-seven NBA scouts are registered, which speaks to the talent on hand.
▪ There are at least two recruits here that took a serious look at Wichita State — Alabama freshman guard Dazon Ingram and Xavier freshman center Sean O’Mara. O’Mara ended up choosing Xavier over Loyola.