Not a good performance by WSU in Saturday/Sunday’s 68-58 loss. Not a horrible performance. Just another one that is hard to figure out. This team has become hard to explain. The reserves are coming on, which should be a huge boost. However, too many starters are struggling.
Let’s not forget the fact Utah State would make a lot of teams struggle, especially in Logan. The Shockers drew a difficult assignment. WSU hasn’t won more than two straight since early January, which says something. It also hasn’t lost two straight games all season, which says something even more important. The Shockers seem to be limping to the finish, and nobody is sure what spark it will take to turn things around.
In many ways, things seem worse than they really are. The Shockers are 22-7, unbeaten at home and will be no worse than the No. 3 seed in the MVC Tournament. That’s a major success. Why doesn’t it feel like one right now? The 2004-05 team faded down the stretch, then rejuvenated itself in the NIT. This team needs to find something to change direction.
Perhaps the effort of getting to this point wore this team down. It is a team that is new to the burdens of winning. There is not a four-year senior on the roster. There are three juniors, none of whom played on a winning college team before this season. Those are excuses the Shockers probably won’t want to make.
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WSU coach Gregg Marshall said maybe it’s time to make changes. We will see if that happens for Wednesday’s game. You can make a case for making changes at some spots. You can make a case that WSU is 22-7 with that starting lineup and it’s smarter to let them work it out while keeping the reserves in a groove that is working for them. Toure Murry is in a shooting slump. Graham Hatch isn’t shooting it as well as he did earlier. But they are two of WSU’s best perimeter defenders and rebounders.“We’re just trying to get better as a team,” reserve guard David Kyles said. “If Toure (Murry) isn’t playing good, hopefully somebody will pick him up. If Clev (Hannah) isn’t playing good, somebody will pick him up.”Reserve center Garrett Stutz is scoring and rebounding well in recent games.“He’s aggressive offensively,” Marshall said. “His downfall is defensively. They just attack him. We’ve got to get more guys playing well at both ends.”The Utah State crowd made a big impression on all the Shockers. With 4,000 students singing and chanting, it’s like nothing that exists in the MVC. The MVC boasts some tough places to play. No place has the atmosphere – start to finish – that the Shockers saw in Logan.“The atmosphere is special,” Marshall said. “You talk about our atmosphere – whoa. We might be Triple-A.”