At his annual golf tournament at Wichita Country Club on Monday, Wichita State men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall offered updates on the vacant assistant coach position, the Shockers' incoming recruiting class and next season's non-conference schedule.
Wichita State's most pressing need is to fill the assistant coach vacancy left by Kyle Lindsted, who joined Richard Pitino's staff at Minnesota last week and "doubled his pay," according to Marshall.
"The search is basically done," Marshall said. "It's not official, it's not public yet, but it's basically done."
Marshall confirmed it was the busiest and most challenging spring in his tenure at WSU, as he experienced four "firsts" in his three decades of coaching.
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The first was the challenge of replacing six seniors, the largest senior class he's ever had. The second was Landry Shamet leaving for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season. The third was losing a top recruit in point guard Alex Lomax, who was released from his letter of intent to play at Memphis for his former coach and mentor, Penny Hardaway. And finally was the decision by Austin Reaves to transfer, the first time Marshall said he's been shocked by a transfer.
"It's been a very hectic offseason," Marshall said. "I'm glad we got a little down time now before preparation starts for a new group of guys to coming in June. We recruited and worked as hard as we possibly could for six weeks after the season. We're excited about who we have coming in. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us, a lot of teaching, a lot of coaching. It's exciting, though."
After a 25-win season and the program's seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Wichita State returns just 11 percent of its minutes from last season.
Marshall and his staff finished his largest and highest-rated recruiting class this spring. WSU signed junior-college transfers Ricky Torres and Jaime Echenique to go along with incoming freshman Erik Stevenson, Chance Moore, Jamarius Burton, Morris Udeze, Dexter Dennis, and Isaiah Chandler. West Virginia transfer Teddy Allen will sit out this coming season before being a redshirt sophomore for the 2019-20 season.
"This group coming in is going to be a little bigger, a little more athletic, a little longer from the start, but they're going to be babies," Marshall said. "And they're going to need some time. We're excited about being able to teach them, being able to coach them, being able to prod them into being as good as they can be at this stage in their careers."
A focus of Marshall was improving the team's defense after noting that last season WSU had "a lot of games where we just physically didn't match up." With so much roster turnover, he was able to accomplish that by bringing in better athletes who are noticeably taller (all eight of the recruits are between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-11).
"We just didn't guard the ball very well," Marshall said. "Hopefully these guys can do it, but they're going to be young. That's going to be a little strike against them. Fred VanVleet wasn't a great on-ball defender when he was a freshman, but he's pretty good at it now in the NBA. That's what happen with these guys. They need time to learn. They learn the nuances, they learn where to be, they learn what they can get away with. That's going to be the biggest problem with this group. But I believe they have the length, the athleticism, the toughness, and the size to be good defenders."
Marshall also included a scheduling tidbit about the 2018 non-conference schedule. He said WSU will play Louisiana Tech. That updates a non-conference that includes Providence (in Annapolis, Md.), Baylor at Koch Arena, Oklahoma (in Oklahoma City), and Oral Roberts. The Shockers will also play in the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C., in mid-November.