Wichita State men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall went through his first season without depth at point guard. He vowed never to let that happen again.
The signing of NJCAA All-American Joe Ragland last week should put the Shockers in good shape in the backcourt next season. Ragland will join sophomore-to-be Demetric Williams at point guard, giving Marshall plenty of options.
"The good news about those two guys is both of them can score the ball well enough that you can play them together," Marshall said. "I feel pretty confident in saying Demetric could be the (point guard) and Joe could be the (shooting guard), and I hope Joe can be the one and Demetric can be the two. We'll figure out which one is better at which position."
Ragland, a 6-foot sophomore from North Platte (Neb.) Community College, made himself a recruiting priority with three strong games at the national tournament in Hutchinson last month. He earned the Bud Obee Outstanding Small Player Award for his play in the tournament.
"We feel great after going over to Hutch and evaluating him for three games," Marshall said. "We found the right guy."
Ragland will help replace guard Clevin Hannah, WSU's best shooter and leading scorer the past two seasons. Ragland averaged 18.4 points and made 56 percent of his shots, 45.8 percent of his three-pointers and 75.4 percent of his free throws. He is North Platte's career scoring leader with 1,286 points.
"When he shoots it, you think it's going in," Marshall said. "He's got another gear. He's explosive. He can shoot off the bounce. He can shoot off the catch. He can make plays for others."
Home again — WSU women's basketball coach Jody Adams needs scorers. Hutchinson Community College guard Heather Robben, a good three-point shooter, should add that skill.
As a bonus, she played at Maize. Signing a local product is a nice way for Adams to wrap up a six-person recruiting class.
"Obviously, signing a player from Wichita is really exciting for us," Adams said. "She can really help us."
Fans love cheering hometown kids. However, it's not always a perfect fit. Sometimes there's pressure playing at home. Sometimes there is pressure on coaches to play a local athlete.
"I can't say that every talented Wichita kid can play here," Adams said. "When they can, we want to give them a home."
Thinking about March — Marshall isn't one to sandbag. He knows the Shockers will likely be preseason favorites in the Missouri Valley Conference.
At Thursday's award banquet, he grabbed an opportunity to push some motivation on his team. After Hannah wept during his farewell speech, Marshall hugged him and then addressed the rest of the team. Coming up short in the bid for the NCAA Tournament weighed on Hannah, Marshall said, and next season's team has a chance to finish the job.
Should they do that, Marshall wants to include Hannah in the ring ceremony at the 2011 banquet.
There will be no hiding from expectations after a 25-10 season in 2009-10. The Sports News Magazine ranks WSU No. 25 in its April poll for 2010-11.
"We realize how we finished the season and how close we were," Marshall said. "The only thing I'm going to impress upon them is how close we are, yet how far away. It's close. And that potential is a dangerous word."
Passports to adventure — WSU center Garrett Stutz and guard Toure Murry will travel to Poland in late May and early June as part of an Athletes in Action exhibition tour.
Murry is looking forward to a close look at the European style. The team will play three games, two against an under-23 national team and one against pros.
"To see how they move and how they play the game — smart," Murry said. "A lot of European players like to come to America to check out how Americans play. Now we'll see how they play."
Missouri State's Kyle Weems and Indiana state's R.J. Mahurin are also on the 10-man roster.
* A decision on a foreign trip for WSU this summer is on hold. The NCAA recently passed legislation allowing schools to take newcomers on the exhibition trips.
Marshall is considering that option, which a school can exercise once in four years. He may hold off until the 2011 summer, when he will bring in a larger class of recruits to replace seniors Gabe Blair, J.T. Durley, Graham Hatch and Aaron Ellis.
"It may be better for us to do it next summer, when we're bringing in more new players," he said.
Walking away — Men's basketball walk-ons Mason Felter and Bryce Mayes will not return to the basketball team.
Felter, a sophomore forward from Wichita, is considering Newman and Central Missouri State, among several schools. With WSU's roster loaded with big men, Felter wanted to earn a scholarship at a place where he could play more.
"Being able to play (for WSU) at the end of the year made me want to play more," he said. "There's only so much time to go around."
Mayes, a freshman guard from Oxford, is going to attend Kansas. He said he may consider walking on to the Jayhawk football team.
Worth noting — WSU's women's golf team is picked fourth in the MVC Championship beginning today at Evansville's Rolling Hills Country Club.
Two-time defending champion Illinois State is the favorite.
WSU finished third last season, two strokes behind second-place Drake.
The 54-hole tournament ends Tuesday.