The Puerto Rico Tip-Off gathered its eight coaches for a teleconference Tuesday morning. The Shockers, in contrast to most of their non-conference tournaments, should be one of the favorites. This isn’t a situation where WSU is trying to upset the big boys. This is a situation where WSU should feel it is better than most of teams in the field. Iona, on the other side of the bracket, may feel the same way.
Graduation hurt WSU, but two of the teams in its bracket – Colorado and Maryland – are much closer to starting over than WSU. Maryland is down to seven scholarship players. Colorado coach Tad Boyle said the Buffs lost 75 percent of their scoring from last year, including NBA draft pick Alec Burks. Alabama, the fourth team in that side of the bracket, returns its top three scorers from the team that lost to WSU in the NIT. The Tide, picked fourth in the SEC, also is one of the tournament heavyweights.
On the other side of the bracket, Iona or Temple are good choices as the favorites. Iona is picked first in the MAAC. Temple is picked second in the Atlantic-10 and receiving top 25 votes. Purdue is picked in the middle of the Big 10. Western Michigan is picked fourth in the MAC’s West Division.
“We’re trying to blend the veterans with the transfers we had sitting out along with our new recruits. Like most teams right now, we’re kind of a work in progress” – Boyle.
“I don’ t think any coach is ever satisfied. I think we need to get better defensively. But I think we have the ability to score. Now we just have to work on those nuances defensively that will keep us where we want to be” – Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
“Mike Glover had a great year for us last year. He’s somebody that has had some national recognition. He’s 6-foot-7 forward who can go inside, outside, plays very hard, one of the leaders on our team. I think he’ll go a long way for us this year to keep us competitive” – Iona coach Tim Cluess.
“Terrell Stoglin, he was an all-freshman team (pick) last year, had a good season, put up some good numbers. He’s practiced well, can really score the ball. We’re trying to make him a more complete player. Then we have a freshman, Nick Faust, who has played well for us and has a pretty good chance to play well” – Maryland coach Mark Turgeon.
“JaMychal Green, our only senior, has really kind of separated himself in terms of where he is, his experience. I wouldn’t say that’s a surprise. Our veterans have done a good job of leading those guys and trying to get them to understand what will be required” – Alabama coach Anthony Grant.
“Rob Hummel is looking good. He’s been cleared to play (after knee surgery). We go every other day with Rob. He’s really played well in practices and done a good job, looks better every single day that he gets out there. We’re really being cautious. He’s been able to respond with everything we’ve thrown at him” – Purdue coach Matt Painter.
“We played 20 minutes, then 20 minutes, then as much as we could (in Sunday’s scrimmage against Texas-Arlington). We played like 47 minutes in the morning, 50 minutes in the afternoon. We won, but there were things we need to get better at. There’s guys that played better than we thought. There were a couple of surprises, a couple of disappointments. All in all, I would give it a C-plus, B-minus. I want to continue to get better rebounding and defense. That’s my deal. That’s what has carried our teams throughout most of my career. My coaches are adamant that we’re going to be able to score. We just need to continue to work on rebounding, defense” – WSU coach Gregg Marshall.
“(Forward Nate Hutcheson) started every ballgame for us last year, but he really had an outstanding summer, really worked hard on his game, has taken it to a little bit higher level than where he was last year. He’s probably the most noticeable guy we have that has made an improvement” – Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins.