Wichita State fans had their first chance to see a glimpse of the Shocker basketball teams at the Black & Yellow scrimmages on Saturday afternoon in front of around 3,000 fans at Koch Arena.
Both teams played 20-minute, running-clock, controlled scrimmages, as the yellow team won the women’s scrimmage 22-19, and the yellow team won the men’s scrimmage 21-19.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s performances:
1. Shockers put to work
While Saturday was the first chance for WSU’s fans to see the team, Coach Gregg Marshall thinks fans will prefer a more prepared team for meaningful games rather than putting on a good performance on Saturday.
That’s why the Shockers practiced for two hours on Saturday leading up to the scrimmage. WSU’s players literally walked down from the practice gymnasium straight to the tunnel to begin the scrimmage.
“We practiced for two hours today right before the scrimmage, which is more important to me than the public scrimmage,” Marshall said. “I needed to get my work in today.”
Marshall said the morning practice didn’t go well and that carried over into the scrimmage.
“We’ve had a lot of good practices. Unfortunately, this morning wasn’t very good,” Marshall said. “I don’t know whether they’re hitting a little wall now or maybe some of the new guys were nervous about being out there. But this is a progression you go through as a new player. You have to eventually draw back the curtains and let people see what you’re doing. I don’t know if they were thinking about this or trying to conserve their energy for the scrimmage, but needless to say it wasn’t a great practice.”
The yellow squad consisted of Grant Sherfield, Tyson Etienne, Trey Wade, Morris Udeze, DeAntoni Gordon and Jaime Echenique, while the black squad featured Jamarius Burton, Tate Busse, Dexter Dennis, Josaphat Bilau, Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler and Asbjorn Midtgaard.
The teams combined to shoot 29.1 percent (14 of 48) from the field and 29.4 percent (5 of 17) on three-pointers with 14 turnovers.
“We’ve still got a lot of stuff to work on, but it’s still early in October,” said Midtgaard, who finished with a team-high seven points and three rebounds. “The games don’t start for a couple of weeks. We’ll address it in practice and watch the film and go from there and keep getting better.”
Marshall was so upset with his team that he walked on the court and called timeout to stop the action after 90 seconds. WSU started the game with three straight turnovers.
“We were just playing around with the ball in front of the bench and lose it out of bounds,” Marshall said. “You can’t do that. I stopped it, and I said, ‘Hey, snap out of this. We were horrible for two hours in the upstairs practice gym and now we need to play a little better, play a little harder. Stop prancing around and have some tension in your body and show some urgency.’”
2. Trey Wade impresses
The graduation of Markis McDuffie has left a sizable chunk of production missing from Wichita State and how the Shockers replace the minutes and scoring left behind by McDuffie remains one of the season’s most intriguing questions.
Marshall recruited Trey Wade, a 6-foot-6 junior-college transfer, to be an immediate contributor for the Shockers at the vacated power forward position, and Wade looked the part on Saturday.
Wade scored a game-high eight points on Saturday on 3-of-6 shooting, including two three-pointers, to go along with two rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.
“He did a pretty good job,” Marshall said. “He’s had a pretty good fall camp. There are days where he looks better than others, but that’s any new player or any player for that matter.
“To me, it’s energy. When he plays with a lot of energy and is just flying around, he’s at his best.”
Wade showcased versatility on the offensive end. When the yellow team zoned up his team, Wade stepped into a three-pointer on the wing and connected. Later, Wade took Dexter Dennis off the dribble and used his length to finish at the rim. He also smothered a Dennis desperation shot to beat the shot clock early in the scrimmage.
WSU is hoping Wade can bolster the team’s rebounding and also provide a defensive presence at the position. The offense Wade showed on Saturday would be bonus.
3. What Marshall will take away from the scrimmage
Any time WSU scrimmages, it provides tape to Marshall and his coaching staff to break down and evaluate.
Even though the scrimmage wasn’t as crisp as Marshall would have preferred, he said Saturday will still be valuable.
“What I will do is watch the film and just look for how guys are approaching playing hard, playing smart, taking care of the basketball, being in proper defensive position, communicating,” Marshall said. “There will be 40-50 things easy that we can point to that were either good or bad.
“Most of them you show the stuff that’s really done well, but on the counter for every good thing that one team does, there’s something the other team didn’t do very well to combat it.”
Perhaps the most impressive play of the scrimmage came on a pick-and-roll by Burton and Midtgaard that resulted in a Midtgaard finish and foul. Sherfield fights over the screen and Echenique steps out to hedge against Burton, but WSU’s defense crumbles when the help defense doesn’t recognize the rolling big man and fails to move over to prevent Burton’s pass down the middle of the lane.
It’s details like that Marshall will point to WSU’s newcomers who are still adjusting to the attention required to play defense for Marshall.
“On that play, we didn’t tag the roller,” Marshall said. “I don’t know how good the hedge was, but all I know is that Asbjorn was wide open at the rim and that should not happen.
“When you’re breaking the film down as a coach, you’re not constantly looking for all the positives that you can show them. You’ve got to show them the negative and you’ve got to correct the bad. I think that’s a little more important than congratulating them occasionally on the good.”
4. Freshmen finish with an up-and-down performance
All four of the freshmen who played in Saturday’s scrimmage showed promising signs.
WSU ran Etienne off staggered screens for a three-pointer in the corner off an in-bounds play. Sherfield ran point for the yellow team and finished two contested drives at the rim and a game-high three assists.
Gordon drilled a jumper a step inside the three-point line running the baseline against a zone defense. Bilau didn’t score, but the 6-10 freshman from France moved well for his size and grabbed two rebounds.
“They’ve been really good,” Marshall said. “They’re very talented and they’re good people.”
But WSU’s four freshmen combined for seven of the 14 turnovers.
Those nerves were understandable to WSU’s returners, who were in the very same position just last season.
“It’s a new environment for them and they looked a little anxious out there,” Echenique said. “Maybe their mind blew a little bit with this many people. That happened to me last year, so I can understand.”
5. Injury update on Noah Fernandes
Fernandes was introduced to the crowd on Saturday walking out of the tunnel on crutches with a walking boot on his left foot.
The 5-11 freshman point guard from Mattapoisett, Mass., suffered the injury back in late September. While the scene on Saturday may have looked bleak, Marshall provided an encouraging update following the scrimmage.
“Hopefully a week to 10 days from now he’ll be back,” Marshall said.
Marshall said medical exams have revealed the injury is a “bone bruise basically” that is painful for Fernandes, but will not require surgery.
WSU sophomore guard Erik Stevenson also did not make an appearance in Saturday’s scrimmage, although that was not due to injury. According to Marshall, Stevenson was absent in order to study for an exam.
Next up for the Shockers is a closed scrimmage against Nebraska in three weeks on Oct. 26, then their lone exhibition game against Northeastern State on Oct. 29. WSU opens the season on Nov. 5 against Nebraska-Omaha.