Here’s what’s at stake in Wednesday’s game against Evansville – since 1993-94, only one team won or shared the MVC regular-season title after an 0-1 start. Fifteen of the past 16 champions or co-champions started 2-0. Northern Iowa lost to Indiana State to start the 2008-09 MVC schedule and then ran off 11 straight wins on its way to sharing the title with Creighton.
So there’s the news – good teams usually win.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall is pleased with his team’s classwork. Nine of the 16 players are on the honor roll (3.00 GPA or better). The team GPA of 2.86 is its highest since the 2002 spring semester.WSU will probably try several defenders on Aces guard Colt Ryan, who averages 17.2 points. Whether it’s Toure Murry, Graham Hatch or David Kyles, they will be prepared for a challenge. “He’s going to come off, probably, 200 screens, over the course of the game, maybe more,” Marshall said. “Three, four, five six screens per possession. It’s just a brutal night. If you can give him a lot of space, he can shoot it.”The Aces are last in the MVC in shooting defense (allowing 44.8 percent). They are capable of better, such as when they held then-No. 23 Butler to a 20-of-60 night (33.3 percent) on Butler’s court. The Bulldogs managed a mere seven baskets in the second half. “Butler had chances to score, but just putting a body on those shooters, even around the basket just really chesting up aggressively, Butler couldn’t finish,” Marshall said. “Evansville was being physical and strong and tough and made it difficult for them to finish.”Practices are tough for the Shockers. Marshall doesn’t want this team satisfied with its effort in compiling a 9-2 record. “There’s a lot of things we can do to get better – that’s why grind every day,” Marshall said. “That’s probably why they’re not real happy with me right now. We’re just pounding them – here’s what we’re not doing well, and it’s going to catch up with us if we don’t correct it.”While the Shockers are shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three, Marshall has some players in slumps. Toure Murry has dropped to 31.4 percent from three-point range after going 0 for 6 against LSU and Tulsa. Murry started the season hot (making 8 of 16 in three games) before cooling off. He is 3 of 19 from three in his past eight games. Ben Smith is 6 of 21 from three. Joe Ragland is 7 of 23 and Demetric Williams is 3 of 14. Marshall considers all those players capable of better accuracy.