Lufile’s Wichita State season becoming a not-so-bumpy ride

Wichita State’s Chadrack Lufile takes the ball to an Indiana State defender. The Shockers beat Indiana State 82-69 and are now 19-0. (Jan. 18, 2014)
Wichita State’s Chadrack Lufile takes the ball to an Indiana State defender. The Shockers beat Indiana State 82-69 and are now 19-0. (Jan. 18, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

The evolutionary purpose of the body’s pilomoter reflex is to raise hair to make a body appear larger when threatened.

Wichita State center Chadrack Lufile is plenty big enough at 6-foot-9, 266 pounds, although he is playing with more presence with each game. His pilomoter reflex, better known as goose bumps, is a reaction to getting big and getting noticed by coach Gregg Marshall. Lufile is back in the starting lineup and coming off his first double-double of his career — 10 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Indiana State.

“One time he came to the bench — he had out-run the other team down the floor and gotten fouled,” Marshall said. “I loved it because he had chill bumps all over his arms because I was praising him and telling him how great he was doing. His whole body was just chill bumps.”

The fifth-ranked Shockers (19-0, 6-0 Missouri Valley Conference) play at Illinois State (11-7, 4-2) on Wednesday with its rotation of big men looking more dependable daily. Lufile is averaging 7.6 points and 7 rebounds in his past five games, three of them starts. Darius Carter is averaging 9.7 points off the bench the past three games, making 12 of 18 shots. Kadeem Coleby completes the rotation and is rebounding and blocking shots.

Lufile, a senior from Burlington, Ontario, gave the Shockers a similar burst of production in December and earned three starts. Then he came a few minutes late to a shootaround and weights and lost his starting job to Carter for the North Carolina-Central game on Dec. 22.

“He did that to show me a lesson, in life you’ve got to be on time,” Lufile said. “That will never happen again.”

Lufile responded as Marshall wanted. He played few minutes against North Carolina-Central and Davidson before getting back on track in MVC play, and his confidence and contributions are again on the rise.

“He knows how to get his head on straight and bounce back,” teammate Nick Wiggins said. “He never just sulked because he was taken out of the starting lineup. It just made him work harder. It’s his senior year, so he doesn’t want to regret anything.”

Lufile and Carter both say they’re happy with either role.

“As long as I can get in and do what I got to do to help this team win, it doesn’t matter whether I start or come off the bench,” Carter said.

“If I score, I score; if I don’t, I don’t,” Lufile said. “That starting stuff, it means something, but at the same time, when you get on that court, nothing else matters. I’m still going to play hard.”

That is what gives Marshall chill bumps. He wants Lufile to use his size, speed and athletic ability to defend and rebound. In MVC games, Lufile is tied for third (with Coleby) in the conference by averaging 1.5 blocks. His average of 6.7 rebounds ranks sixth. He tied his career-high with three blocks against Missouri State.

“He’s a better rim protector and a better rebounder,” Marshall said. “In every phase, I think he’s gotten better. He can make a move, now, and not turn it over.”

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