Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall struck a deal with guard Malcolm Armstead after the Southern Mississippi game, the details of which he will keep quiet.
“It involves going places you don’t want to go,” Marshall said.
All people need to know is that since that game, Armstead is on his best behavior. He got hit with a technical foul against Southern Mississippi on Dec. 22, his second technical in three games. That was enough for Marshall, who guaranteed change.
Armstead, from all appearances, hasn’t been close to another technical and has gone cold turkey on talking to opponents and looking pained or angry on the court.
“I’m pleased, very pleased with it,” Marshall said. “We had a talk. We have a deal.”
Armstead, a senior guard, said he realized his attitude needed to improve. He plays with a swagger and an edge that can power his game. But he hurt the team by giving up points and losing playing time to fouls.
“It was something I had to do,” Armstead said. “I can’t be the one that’s out there out of control when other teammates tell me to calm down. I can’t get technical fouls as the point guard, the leader.”
Armstead’s cooler demeanor is coinciding with a hot shooting streak.
In five MVC games, he is putting up Joe Ragland-like numbers. He scored a season-high 21 points in Sunday’s loss at Evansville to raise his MVC average to 13.2 points. He is shooting 52.3 percent (23 of 44) from the field and 55.6 percent (10 of 18) from three-point range in five conference games.
“I’m just getting in the gym,” he said. “Repetition, confidence. A lot of my teammates are believing in me.”
Armstead showed that kind of scoring potential at Oregon, where he played two seasons before transferring to WSU. He scored a career-high 23 against Idaho State in 2009, one his three 20-plus games as a sophomore. As a junior, he scored 22 against Stanford.
Armstead sat out last season at WSU and practiced with the team, making it easy to overlook his newness on a team filled with newcomers. He has shown little of the rust one might expect for a player after a season away from top competition.
“Taking a year off was kind of tough at first,” he said. “It was good, it made me develop patience and helped me grow as a person and a player to see it before I go through it.”
THIS WEEK IN SHOCKER HISTORY
Wichita State’s Troy Mack and Jason Perez put up career numbers in a 94-88 double-overtime win over Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) on Jan. 18, 1999. WSU stunned the Bears, bound for the NCAA’s Sweet 16, with 23 points and 22 rebounds from Mack and a career-high 34 points from Perez. Mack’s 20-20 made him the first Shocker since Xavier McDaniel to score 20 points and grab 20 rebounds.