The scenario that sticks with Wichita State coaches is not Keshun Sherrill lighting up the Shockers after a defensive breakdown fuels his confidence.
Switch Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte with Sherrill and imagine it’s Forte, a similarly gifted and fearless shooter, who heats up and rallies his team from 22 points down to one in the final minutes. Then look at Oklahoma State’s front court and imagine that it will be harder for WSU center Shaq Morris to rescue the Shockers against similarly sized players.
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That is the lesson of Saturday’s 73-67 exhibition win over NCAA Division II Augusta (Ga.) after surviving Sherrill’s 33 points. Every defensive play matters and future opponents offer more challenges.
WSU opens the regular season against South Carolina State on Friday at Koch Arena and it’s a chance for newcomers to learn from the exhibition game. They’ve watched hours of practice video. Now they’ve got a game to watch with a crowd when the score mattered.
“Film is always helpful,” WSU junior guard Daishon Smith said. “You can see what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. Coaches did a great job showing me the lapses I had on defense.”
Smith, a transfer from Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College, played eight minutes in the exhibition, largely because of fouls and defensive mistakes early in the second half while guarding Sherrill. Once Sherrill, 1 for 8 in the first half, got rolling, the game changed. A 50-28 lead with 16:16 to play narrowed to 66-65 with 4:01 to play and Sherrill scored 25 points in that span.
“Once we lost him a couple times — Daishon lost him on check-cut and then he was retreating too much and being too soft on a transition three — he was ready to go,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “You can’t give guys confidence. You don’t want to give them hope.”
A wrong step, a bust in concentration and the game changed. In junior college, a player may use his athletic gifts to cover up a lapse. At a higher level, those lapses are replayed over and over again in an afternoon video session.
“The fact we were up 20-some points and he did come down and that allowed him to get going,” Smith said. “Every possession matters. Coach says that every day.”
Smith knows what he did wrong.
“There were a couple times when I just got casual and he ran me off a couple screens,” he said. “It’s staying locked in every possession, every second of the game.”
Sherrill caught Smith watching the ball and slipped away for an open shot. That is a common problem for inexperienced defenders, who turn their eyes to follow the ball and lose track of their man. Good scorers are quickly in position to turn that mistake into a basket.
“It’s learning how to see man and ball at the same time,” Marshall said. “Great players know what’s happening with that ball at all times. They don’t have to stare at it.”
Worth noting — Marshall said he does not expect to redshirt any players. “It’s all hands on deck,” he said.… Banners for WSU’s NCAA Tournament berth and Missouri Valley Conference title will lower before the game.… South Carolina State is the lone South Carolina NCAA Division I school that Marshall has not faced in his time at Winthrop, located in South Carolina, and Wichita State. He is 44-14 against those 12 schools.
South Carolina State at Wichita State
- When: 8:30 p.m.
- Where: Koch Arena
- Records: SCSU 0-0, WSU 0-0
- Radio: KEYN 103.7-FM
- TV: Cox 22
South Carolina State at Wichita State
S. Carolina State (0-0): The Bulldogs were picked second in the MEAC preseason poll. Eaves and G Ed Stephens were named to the preseason all-conference teams. Stephens has been slowed by an unspecified injury and is expected to play. He averaged 13.1 points as a sophomore and made 87 of 214 three-pointers (40.7 percent). … The Bulldogs went 19-15 last season and played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.and lost at Grand Canyon University. They won 14 of their final 19 games after losing 10 games away from home, including at Kansas State and Ohio State, in November and December. … In 2015-16, South Carolina State gave up 72.9 points a game and ranked No. 314 out of 351 teams in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency statistic, in part because it allowed too many offensive rebounds and fouled too much. … WSU will pay South Carolina State $90,000 for the game.
Wichita State (0-0): Shamet had seven assist and one turnover in 32 minutes in WSU’s exhibition game. He will play in his first regular-season game since Nov. 21 when he started against Emporia State and scored nine points. A stress fracture in his left foot, and surgery, ended his season afer that game. … WSU has won 37 consecutive home non-conference games, second nationally behind Duke’s 125. The streak started after a 2011 loss to VCU. … WSU has won 14 straight openers and 20 straight home openers. … This is the first meeting between the schools.
Friday at Koch Arena
▪ Volleyball at 5 p.m. Men’s basketball at 8:30.
▪ Basketball tickets are good for admission to the volleyball match. The arena will be cleared in between games.
▪ Usual men’s basketball parking applies. Volleyball fans may park in one of the five lots designated “Bold Gold.” They are near Eck Stadium, east of Cessna Stadium, near Duerksen Fine Arts Center and near Memorial ’70.