Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall revealed his public preparations for today's game on Jan. 1 in a post-game news conference.
After a 79-63 win at Bradley in which the Shockers did almost everything right, Marshall made sure to comment on Andrew Warren's 26 points and WSU's inability to guard him. Sitting next to him was Toure Murry, the player who did much of the defensive work on Warren.
"He planted a seed to give us a little challenge," Murry said.
Guarding Warren is definitely a challenge. Bradley (6-15, 0-10 Missouri Valley Conference) relies more on his scoring than another MVC team relies on a single player. He averages 19.0 points, tops in the MVC, and with 400 this season he is responsible for 29.6 percent of Bradley's total. Missouri State's Kyle Weems (23.1 percent) is next, Wichita State's J.T. Durley ninth at 15.9 percent.
"His progression has been where he's scoring in a variety of ways," Bradley coach Jim Les said. "He's going in the post. He's getting the ball off the glass. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor now and make plays for himself."
Against WSU (17-4, 8-2), Warren scored 26 points and made 7 of 16 shots. He went 9 for 9 from the line. Warren, a 6-foot-6 senior from Indianapolis, shoots 41.5 percent from three-point range and 85.4 percent from the foul line.
"He looked like an NBA guy," Marshall said. "He may be an NBA guy — I hope he gets a shot. He just did whatever he wanted."
WSU's job is to make scoring as difficult as possible for Warren. The Shockers want to be right on him to get a hand in his face. Against a defender that's too aggressive, Warren will use a fake to draw a foul or drive past him. The Shockers can't leave their feet to contest the shot until Warren is in the air.
"His release is really high, and he has a great shot, so it's really tough to guard him," WSU forward Graham Hatch said. "He's really good at pump-faking. Staying down on that, and contesting, and hope he misses."
It's not just the man guarding Murry who is responsible. Teammates must help by obstructing Warren when he uses screens and by closing down passing lanes for teammates.
"It's a full-team effort," Hatch said. "He comes off so many staggers (screens) and re-screens that the big guy who are guarding the guy that sets the screen has to show, has to help a little bit. That's a tricky thing, too, If our big guys are helping too much, they will pass it to the guy that is slipping (toward the basket)."
The Shockers will put their offense back in Murry's hands at point guard. He scored 11 points and handed out seven assists with one turnover in Wednesday's 74-64 win over Southern Illinois.
That is the efficiency Marshall wants from that position.
"He passed the ball well," Marshall said. "He set some guys up, all they had to do was catch the ball. Catch and finish. Those are nice to get."
Shockers to play UNLV — WSU will play host to UNLV and coach Lon Kruger on Dec. 4 in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge Series next season.
The teams last met in 1979, when the Shockers lost 111-89 in Las Vegas. WSU defeated UNLV 87-83 in 1978 in Wichita.
Other games are: Creighton at San Diego State (Nov. 30); Air Force at Drake, Indiana State at Boise State, Colorado State at Northern Iowa, TCU at Evansville, Bradley at Wyoming (Dec. 3).
The Mountain West, which loses members BYU and Utah after this season, won the 2010 series 8-1. The MVC won the first series 5-4.
WSU will also play Utah State at home next season, a return game for the 2010 BracketBusters game at Logan, Utah.