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Shockers talk hoops

Wichita State men’s basketball players and coach Gregg Marshall convened on Thursday afternoon before practice. Some highlights:

“Practice has been competitive,” Marshall said. “Defense is way ahead of the offense. A lot of guys are trying to do too much too quickly. That could be because they’re trying to impress coaches. Competition for minutes is going to be interesting.”Having the defense ahead of the offense isn’t a problem at this point. The Shockers are breaking in new point guards, which likely explains some of the offensive struggles. “We’re learning how to get our new guys to defend the right way,” senior forward J.T. Durley said. “The offense is a little slow, because we’ve got a couple newcomers who don’t know how to run our type of motion. With all the returners, we’ll want to see a little more promise in the offense soon. It’s good that our defense stays ahead of the offense right now.”Marshall said all the starting spots are open, which is to be expected barely a week into practice. Point guard is the position of biggest intrigue with the Shockers trying to replace Clevin Hannah. While junior college transfer Joe Ragland is doing well, Marshall said sophomore Demetric Williams is out-playing Ragland.Senior forward Aaron Ellis said taking a redshirt is an option. That decision won’t be made until closer to the start of the season. Ellis wants to play this season, but if it makes sense for himself and the team, he will willingly take a year off and relieve some of the crowding in the frontcourt. Why? “Getting another year to improve my offensive skills and, basically, becoming a leader,” he said. “Having that time to add to my game offensively.”Redshirt freshman Jerome Hamilton was going to try to go at practice today. He’s been out with a sprained ankle.Junior David Kyles sat out Shocker Madness at Marshall’s discretion for unspecified off the court issues. Marshall said he needed to send a message. “I got the message before Shocker Madness even got here,” Kyles said. “I learned my lesson.”Junior forward Ben Smith, a transfer from junior college, quickly learned the differences between practice at juco and at WSU. “I never really practiced that intense before,” Smith said. “Juco is completely different than Division I. It’s more physical. You’ve got to be quicker. I was prepared that it was going to be a little tougher, but I didn’t think it was going to be that much.”Marshall is not in favor of dumping the July recruiting period. An ESPN story has coaches upset about that possibility. Conference commissioners, according to the ESPN story, voted 31-0 to eliminate the July recruiting time. During that month, coaches fan out across the country to go to summer tournaments where they can watch hundreds of players in one place. “When are we going to recruit?” Marshall said. “They took April away. Now they’re thinking about taking July away. When are we going to recruit? During the season?”