Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State faces down rugged week

Last week, Wichita State played a tough week of basketball in paradise. It gets easier this week, but not by much.

Without much time to rest, WSU plays two home games in three days and then returns to the West Coast to play No. 18 San Diego State.

"Brutal week," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said.

The Shockers, coming off three games in three days in the Maui Invitational, play UMKC (4-0) tonight at Koch Arena. Wednesday, Chicago State (2-5) visits and then WSU (3-1) travels to San Diego State (6-0) on Saturday.

WSU practiced Friday afternoon in Hawaii before leaving early that evening. The Shockers got to Wichita late Saturday morning and took the day off. They practiced Sunday evening.

That's a lot of travel and a lot of time zones to recover — and not much time.

"A handful of them, it was hard to get going," Marshall said. "(Sunday) was a very difficult day (of practice). I was a little ragged when I woke up this morning. That's a long flight."

The Shockers had to squeeze in three games because they didn't play until Nov. 16, missing the first weekend when most teams opened.

"Most people have played six or seven games," Marshall said. "We've played four. Now we've got to condense one more game into a slot."

Depth and experience works in WSU's favor this week, at least in the home games. Marshall routinely went 10 deep during the final two games in Maui without losing much productivity. Ten Shockers average between 13 and 25.5 minutes and seven players started.

That depth helps with tired legs. It also helps when somebody has an off night. Marshall took guard Toure Murry out of the starting lineup after a bad defensive effort against Connecticut and replaced him with Joe Ragland, who also gave WSU a pure point guard. Murry came off the bench to play 22 minutes — comparable to the starters — and score 11 points against Chaminade. He played 25 minutes — more than three starters — and scored 13 points as a reserve against Virginia.

Center J.T. Durley played 33 minutes off the bench against Connecticut, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds. He started the next two games, replacing Garrett Stutz, and scored 16 and 17 points in wins over Chaminade and Virginia.

Starters get the fancy introduction at home games. Finishing is what matters to Marshall.

"I don' t worry about who starts," he said. "This is a basketball team, and it has been. I'm glad that these guys are willing to do their role."

So expect the starting lineup to continue to change. Minutes will be earned, because there is always another player Marshall can try.

UMKC is WSU's most consistent regional opponent and have two players with Shocker connections.

Jay Couisnard scored a career-high 26 points in Wednesday's 82-64 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Couisnard, the brother of ex-Shocker P.J. Couisnard, leads UMKC with an average of 20.3 points. He is 23 of 29 from the line, making more free throws in four games than any Shocker attempted.

Guard Reggie Chamberlain, a native of Kansas City, played one season (2008-09) for WSU before transferring to UMKC. He is averaging 9.0 points and making 38.5 percent of his three-pointers.