Wichita State’s pursuit of a big man includes New Mexico Junior College forward Cullen Russo.
He will visit WSU this weekend, coach James Miller said, and is also scheduled to visit Minnesota. Russo (6-foot-9, 220 pounds) is a sophomore from Bloomington, Minn.
He averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists, making 51.4 percent of his shots, 33.3 percent of his three-pointers and 58.4 percent of his foul shots. He earned All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference honors. As a freshman, Russo played at the College of Southern Idaho and averaged 8.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Miller said he expects Russo to play power forward at his next stop.
“He’s a multi-dimensional forward,” Miller said. “He’s very skilled — he can dribble, pass and shoot. He can guard multiple positions.”
Iowa State transfer Clay Custer, according to Rivals.com national basketball analyst, will visit Creighton, Loyola, Missouri and WSU over the next four weekends. Custer, a 6-foot guard from Blue Valley Northwest, played in 12 games for Iowa State and averaged 1.1 points. Rivals.com ranked him No. 92 nationally as a senior in high school and he earned Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors.
Shocker softball plays DH — Wichita State’s softball team can make a move up the Missouri Valley Conference standings against Missouri State on Wednesday at Wilkins Stadium.
The Shockers (25-19, 7-8 MVC) have won six straight and 9 of 10 games to enter Wednesday in seventh place in the MVC. Missouri State (23-17, 11-4) is in second. WSU trails third-place Illinois State by two games and could, with a sweep, find itself in the top half of the standings by Wednesday evening.
WSU’s pitching is improved recently with sophomore Katie Malone winning five straight starts to improve to 15-8. In that six-game win streak, WSU held opponents to 16 runs.
“We’re kind of putting everything together,” WSU coach Kristi Bredbenner said. “(Malone’s) been the leader of the pack. She got that swagger back a little bit and the confidence she needs to go after batters.”
WSU outfielder Brittany Fortner was named MVC player of the week after she went 9 for 12 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs in a win over Tulsa and a three-game sweep of Illinois State. Fortner leads the MVC with a .443 batting average, 37 runs and a .515 on-base percentage. Her 37 RBIs are tied for the lead.
“She’s just been crushing the ball,” Bredbenner said. “She’s been super-clutch in the three-hole for us.”
The Shockers will wear orange jerseys that will be auctioned off to support Leukemia awareness and research.
Getting together — Since neither the MVC nor the America East Conference possess enough men’s tennis teams (six) to qualify for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, they are combining for a postseason tournament. Three teams from the AEC are considered associate members of the Valley.
The winner of the seven-team draw earns the automatic bid.
Wichita State (17-6, 2-1 MVC) plays Hartford (6-6), from the America East, at noon Friday in St. Louis. The winner plays either Southern Illinois or UMBC at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Bradley dropped men’s tennis in June, the latest MVC school to disband its program. Indiana State and Missouri State also dropped men’s tennis in recent seasons and Creighton’s departure for the Big East took away another program. Loyola, which replaced Creighton, does not offer the sport, leaving Drake, WSU, Illinois State and SIU.
Larch-Miller honored — WSU’s Nikki Larch-Miller was named MVC track and field athlete of the week after she set conference, school and meet records with a time of 13.29 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles in the K.T. Woodman Classic.
Larch-Miller, a sophomore, topped Lindsay Eck’s 2005 time of 13.37 seconds.