Wichita State Shockers

Freshman golfers growing up in a hurry for Shockers

Sure, looking at a roster heavy on freshmen made Wichita State golfer Dustin Garza a little nervous.

"When I heard a bunch of freshman were coming in, I kind of doubted," he said. "But I knew the caliber of the guys we were getting, and I knew they were going to be OK once they figured out the way things go. It's worked out really well."

That shouldn't be a huge surprise, given the consistent success of the Shockers under coach Grier Jones. Doing it with three freshmen playing major roles presented a challenge.

"I'm like every coach — I need my freshmen to grow up right now," Jones said. "And they grow up when they grow up. I'm not sure you can speed up the process."

Fortunately, WSU's are moving fast. The Shockers won the Shocker Classic last week at the Wichita Country Club and the Desert Shootout in Arizona in mid-March. In the fall, WSU won one tournament and finished second in another.

The freshmen are doing OK.

Tyler Gann led the Shocker Classic after the first day and finished second, five strokes behind Garza. Hunter Sparks led the Shockers at the Rio Pinar Invitational in March and shot a first-round 68 at the Shocker Classic before finishing in a tie for 15th. Rafael Becker posted a top-15 finish in the fall and placed second among the Shockers in Arizona.

"Obviously we're not going to have Dustin next year, so those three freshmen, and our junior-college kids, they're going to have to step up," Jones said. "Because there's not going to be anybody carrying them any more."

Gann, from Houston, and Sparks, from Oklahoma City, are roommates and close competitors. Seven times they finished within four strokes of each other in 2009-10. Both are going through the freshmen adjustments where they discover the grind of academics, travel and tough competition.

"You're so much more tired, trying to keep up with everything," Sparks said. "You're always trying to find time to sleep."

Gann played well all three rounds at the Shocker Classic, the first time Jones saw that consistency from a freshman this season. Gann is his own toughest critic, Jones said, and is working to develop a short memory.

"It's accepting bad shots, accepting that you're going to play bad," Gann said. "You've just got to do what you can do to get it done."

Routine surgery — Wichita State backup second baseman Walker Davidson played on Wednesday, eight days after an appendectomy.

That's becoming a common story at Eck Stadium. Current catcher Cody Lassley and former pitcher Anthony Capra had appendectomies in 2008. In 2006, former first baseman Danny Jackson had surgery.

"It had been hurting (for five days)," Davidson said. "I just thought it was my stomach. I went in and got it checked out, and they said I needed to go into surgery 30 minutes later. They said it could have burst."

Davidson started Wednesday against Rogers (Okla.) State. He played flawless defense, walked and scored a run.

"I feel good," he said. "I was a little worried about diving. But when a ball came to me during a game I didn't think anything of it. I just did it."

Nobody saw this coming — In 2006, Golden State made Bradley center Patrick O'Bryant the No. 9 pick in the NBA Draft. Creighton's Anthony Tolliver prepared for his senior season after averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds as a junior.

So which player led Golden State with 34 points in Wednesday's win over Minnesota?

Tolliver helped make coach Don Nelson the NBA's career leader in victories with his career high.

Undrafted in 2007, twice waived and a veteran of German and Turkish leagues, Tolliver grew into a solid pro with the Warriors. Entering the weekend, he had started 25 games and averaged 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds.

His 533 career points are 349 more than O'Bryant, who has started three games in five seasons with Golden State, Toronto, Boston and Toronto.

Gone to Gonzaga — Three Rivers (Mo.) Community College point guard Marquise Carter orally committed to Gonzaga last week, according to the Seattle Times.

Carter, who strongly considered Wichita State and Oklahoma, averaged 17.9 points and 5.5 assists for Three Rivers.

The Shockers filled their need for a point guard earlier this month with a commitment from Joe Ragland of North Platte (Neb.) Community College.

  Comments