Wichita State Shockers

Shocker offense clicking early

Gregg Marshall isn't in a place where he can appreciate Wichita State's offensive success. That's normal for basketball coaches, who focus on areas that need improvement.

The Shockers don't lack for admirers, and for good reason. When things are running right, they are capable of pushing the ball and pushing the scoreboard in an efficient manner.

In last week's Maui Invitational, the compliment extended WSU's way was "they run good stuff," which in coach-speak means the Shockers execute their plays precisely, move quickly and with a purpose and take good shots.

"You never have guys standing still — there's always a guy moving, there's always a guy screening," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said after last week's 79-58 loss to WSU. "The ball never stalls out. Guys are cutting so hard, they're coming off real physical screens, and they're cutting at full-speed every time."

The Shockers (4-1) should have their way offensively tonight against Chicago State (2-5), a team that allows an average of 92.4 points. The bigger test comes Saturday at No. 17 San Diego State. While WSU can improve — it is Dec. 1 — its offense is compiling a list of impressive stretches.

"I'm never going to be satisfied," Marshall said. "I appreciate their compliments, I really do, because I sit there and look at ways we can get better and how we're not cutting hard. I just told my team we're not screening well."

The Shockers are doing something right.

For example:

* They frustrated Connecticut with backdoor cuts against over-playing man-to-man on their way to making 18 of 30 shots in the second half of an 83-79 loss to the Huskies in Maui.

* Against Chaminade, WSU shot 53.1 percent and committed five turnovers during a 42-point second half. The next day against Virginia, WSU committed five turnovers and missed 5 of 6 shots in the game's first eight minutes. Over the next 32, the Shockers made 8 of 14 three-pointers, 21 of 46 shots and committed 10 turnovers. They outscored Virginia 66-38 after falling behind 20-4.

"They set a lot of screens," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after the 70-58 loss. "They can stretch you. They can go inside-outside. They run their stuff hard, and it's physical."

When the Shockers get going, they push the ball quickly and score in different ways. Their big men can shoot from three-point range. Their guards get layups when they run after steals and rebounds. Marshall can play lineups with four three-point threats without hurting himself in other areas.

"We have so many threats," senior forward Graham Hatch said. "We have so many guys that can come off the bench and contribute."

Most impressive are the stretches of unselfish play, good passes and good shot selection. WSU's total of 94 assists in five games is more than six Missouri Valley Conference schools totaled in six games.

After Monday's 71-52 win over UMKC, WSU led the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring (75.6 points), shooting percentage (49.6 percent), three-point shooting (42.5 percent) and assists (18.8).

"We've got a lot of talent, a lot of size," center Garrett Stutz said. "We've just got to make sure we take good shots and feed off each other."