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First week of basketball

Basketball teams gradually build up to the start of practice in mid-October these days. Oct. 15 lost some of its “big event” feeling some time ago. The Shockers started doing individual work in small groups last week. Next month, coach Gregg Marshall can choose to practice with the entire team on a limited basis.

Here are his reviews on the first week of individuals. WSU started Aug. 20.

Not surprisingly, the Shockers are farther along than the previous two teams because basically the entire team spent parts of the summer in Wichita. Only Johnny Coy, who played baseball in St. Joseph, was not around. Coy is behind because of that, but he has until late December (when he becomes eligible) to get his basketball game back. (More on him later). With that as the background, Marshall is pleased with his early look at the Shockers.

“The most physically fit and mentally prepared team since I’ve been here,” Marshall said. “We’re working on their games. We’re working on their individual skills. We go hard for 40 minutes three times a week or twice for an hour. Everything we do is competition, in terms of shooting, handling, working on their moves.”

Freshman forward Jerome Hamilton is living up to his billing as a top-shelf leaper. Marshall got out of his seat to describe a right-handed reverse dunk Hamilton, who is a lefty, threw down during a recent session. Marshall said the coaches stopped to stare at each other, unsure about what they really saw.Freshman guard Kenny Manigault is also as advertised. “Strong, he’s long and he can get to the rim,” Marshall said.Freshman guard Tyler Richardson “shoots it and is very strong,” Marshall said. “Quickness, guarding, how athletic he is – that’s going to be his issue. He’s so young.” Richardson turns 18 in October.Freshman guard Demetric Williams has been out with a sprained ankle on the first day of school, so Marshall hasn’t worked with him much. He was scheduled to work out briefly on Friday.Marshall doesn’t want to jinx sophomore guard David Kyles with premature praise. However, the the progress Kyles showed late in his freshman season continues. His concentration and practice habits are improving, allowing his athletic skills to shine. “He’s come with a different mind-set, and it’s very apparent,” Marshall said. “He looks good. He is certainly a talent, and we’ve known that for a long time.”Marshall can start team practices next month on a limited basis. He may use that option, but the need isn’t as great as last season because of his returning experience.As much Marshall likes his freshmen, he loves the fact he is not counting on them to start. Contributions are welcome and helpful from the newcomers, but not as critical as last season. “We’ve got veterans,” he said. “We didn’t have that.”Marshall recently did an interview with an Omaha radio station. Five months after the clock problems at the MVC Tournament, he can lighten the mood. Marshall said the promo was the idea of the hosts. He went along with it. “What else are you going to do but laugh at this point,” he said.Baseball America, in an article available to subscribers, lists WSU’s Johnny Coy as one of the top prospects in the MINK League, where Coy played this summer with St. Joseph. The story also says Coy has dropped basketball and will play only baseball at WSU. Not true, according to Coy. “Not true at all,” he said Friday afternoon. Coy was aware of the ranking, but had not read the article. “That’s weird,” he said. Marshall also said Coy remains a member of the team. A bout with strep throat has kept Coy off the practice court.