Will it be a surprise if Wichita State doesn’t play well on the road? Are we to that point? I think so. It’s not just beating Bradley. It’s been clear all season the Shockers are better than last year – more experienced, more talented, solid in so many ways. That will carry over to the road.
That doesn’t mean WSU will go 9-0 in MVC road games. It does mean the Shockers will be more competitive on the road and their depth is going to carry the day (or night) most times. The moments of lethargy will be fewer and far less damaging than in past seasons, because coach Gregg Marshall will go to somebody on that bench who can make a play. WSU will play better teams in tougher situations on the road the rest of the way. They will lose at least one or two. I don’t think WSU’s play on the road will resemble the growing pains of the past three seasons under Marshall.
WSU guard Toure Murry has 12 assists and four turnovers in his past two games. He is making good decisions, while continuing to push the ball at the right time and make some sparkling passes. His no-look to Ben Smith for a layup was a beauty. He made another nice pass when he went behind his back to Graham Hatch, who declined to shoot. His line for Saturday: 6 points (3 of 6), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 blocks, 27 minutes. The last three coaches to see Murry raved about him. Tulsa’s Doug Wojcik said he’s a possible NBA player. Here’s what Bradley’s Jim Les said: “He’s really good off the dribble. He’s doing a nice job of mixing being aggressive, looking for his shot and being productive and also getting them into their sets. That’s usually the toughest thing for a point guard to master.”Bradley did everything it could to keep it close. The changing defenses worked to keep WSU out of a flow in the first half. But the Braves are just overmatched, and it’s unfortunate. With Taylor Brown (out for medical reasons) and Sam Maniscalco (ankle injury), the Braves are a much better team. Brown is an inside scorer and a good rebounder. Maniscalco ran the team and made shots. Those are two assets the Braves couldn’t afford to lose. You have to give them a mulligan for this season. However, the Braves can’t play like it or it will be loooong year. I can’t think of another MVC team that has endured the amount of injuries to top players in recent seasons. Is it a wacky string of bad luck, or are the Braves not deep enough to cover up those losses? Whenever I visit Peoria, I always leave feeling Bradley should be a more successful program than it is. I don’t feel that way after visiting Evansville or Drake. Bradley, at least from my perspective, has a lot going for it.Nobody produced more than Gabe Blair, who doesn’t play like a guy with a bad back. Blair: 11 points, nine rebounds, three steals in 23 minutes.How many teams run plays to get their 7-footer a three-point shot? WSU did that for Garrett Stutz with 3:00 to play.J.T. Durley with eight rebounds for a season high. Since not getting a rebound – none, zero, zip – against Virginia and UMKC (think about how hard that is), he has 38 in eight games. That’s a 4.75 average. My standard for an adequate MVC center is at least five a game.The 16-point margin of victory is WSU’s largest in Peoria since a 90-70 win in 1970.UNI is 0-2 in the MVC. I knew the Panthers would take a step back without Koch and Eglseder (not to mention Farokhmanesh). I didn’t expect this. Two tough losses. I expect UNI to recover, but its inability to score is a real problem. The Panthers haven’t broken 70 points this season. It’s tough to win every game by holding teams in the 60s.The stress reaction in Indiana State guard Jake Kelly’s foot is one of the big stories in the MVC. Without Kelly, the Sycamores lost at Evansville 64-59 on Saturday.