Shocker reader panel: We love games at Koch Arena, but ...

Former Wichita State stars Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are forcing Shocker fans to pay more attention to NBA scores and stats.
Former Wichita State stars Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are forcing Shocker fans to pay more attention to NBA scores and stats. Associated Press

Members of the Wichita State basketball readers panel talk about their favorite players, both present and past, their most memorable games and some of their game day rituals. (Video by Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)


1. Who is your pick for Wichita State MVP at the halfway point of MVC play?

David Gonzalez: It’s really hard to single out one player among a deep roster. We’ve seen a variety of players with huge contributions at different times.

But as of now, Markis McDuffie would be my pick for MVP. He’s the team’s leading scorer averaging 12.6 points in 23.9 minutes and has improved his overall game compared to last season. He’s become this season’s most consistent contributor.

Bryan Steele: Markis McDuffie. While this team is largely balanced, he brings a skill-set and athleticism combination that no one can duplicate.

His offensive versatility (shooting, driving, offensive boards) with his defensive skill and length that allows him to guard multiple positions makes him most valuable in my mind. Guys like (Shaq) Morris and (Landry) Shamet are incredibly valuable and effective, but don’t quite have the flexibility that Markis does.

Ty Houseman: It’s hard to pick just one, and I think that’s kind of the beauty of this team. The easy answer would be Markis or Landry but I’m going a little outside the box and say Conner (Frankamp). He has developed his game on both sides of the ball and has been a steadying influence on this team.

Mike Burrus: Markis McDuffie is the team’s MVP at this point, especially if the measure is solely based on performance in MVC games.

With his MVC average of almost 15 points in relatively limited minutes, his overall and threee-point shooting percentages, and his consistent rebounding, the team has come to rely on him to be a consistent force every game. Also, I think his ability to play multiple positions and to defend a variety of opponents (from shooting guards to power forwards) provide great value to the team.

Patty Beamer: I would have to say Landry. He has started every game, he has had solid minutes, consistently plays hard, hustles, shoots, passes, handles the ball very well AND he is a freshman. I see his ceiling as unlimited.

Joe Stroud: The MVP for our Shockers through the halfway point would have to be Austin Reaves, although he is only a freshman his on-ball defense is absolutely spectacular, his tenacity with ball pressure and getting key steals when the offense has gone cold is superb, and his shooting from the three-point line is phenomenal!

2. What’s the best thing about the fan experience at a Wichita State home game? What’s one thing you would change or improve?

David Gonzalez: It’s definitely the people and the environment. You’re surrounded by 10,500 plus of the most passionate fans. The games are loud, which creates an environment that is intimidating for the opposing team.

One thing I would change is the amount of promotions/advertisements throughout the game.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every second of the game has been claimed by a sponsor. Three pointer brought to you by … This miss brought to you by … This timeout brought to you by … Musical chairs during this timeout brought to you by … Sit on this couch, brought to you b y… It’s taken the life out of the environment. Even the band has been constrained to only performing at certain times.

Don’t misunderstand me here, there’s nothing wrong with promotions/advertisements, it’s just that it feels mismanaged and has become overwhelming.

On a related note, what happened to the half-time shows?

Bryan Steele: The standing for defense at the beginning of each half is my favorite part of game day. The crowd is in it and it’s a great environment for a basketball game tip-off.

My only concern right now is the amount of promotions and advertisements that have to go on. I know they pay the bills, but it also negatively affects crowd energy. The athletic department should always leave one timeout open from promotions so that the production team can call an audible when the crowd is rocking and let the band keep the energy up while moving the planned promotion to the open timeout slot.

Sara Orr Jones: The atmosphere — it’s electric! Just ask every coach and players that has ever stepped onto the hardwood at the Roundhouse. There’s no harder place for an opposing team to play — and no better fan experience anywhere in the Valley.

For safety and ease of navigating the upper levels, Koch Arena could use a center stair railing.

Mike Burrus: The enthusiasm, undying support of the team and players, and general basketball knowledge of the fans represent the best part of my experience as a fan who has had season tickets for more than 35 years. I also appreciate Don Hall as a wonderful PA announcer, surely one of the best around (though I wish he would quit saying “One minute left in regulation” when it is obvious the game will not go into overtime).

I have no suggestions on what to change or improve about the fan experience.

Patty Beamer: Feeling the roar of the crowd. Sometimes the crowd is so loud the cameras filming the game shake and you can feel the roar. I love it when the players get really pumped from the crowd noise and it makes the crowd even louder.

What’s one thing you would change or improve?

Security. I would have security pay attention when cars are coming in to park, not just standing around chatting and blocking the driving lanes in the parking lot. I would have security checking bags further inside the door (out of the cold) when you want to unzip your coat and take off your gloves, not directly inside the door yelling “COATS UNZIPPED and BAGS OPEN” while the freezing wind is blowing on you (the west door is always backed up).

Joe Stroud: I absolutely love the atmosphere in the student section, not only does it become electric when the Shockers are on a run, but everyone has so much fun!

But the thing that I would improve on the most is that I wish that we could bring in more signs and have those big players heads back in the student section. We were a lot more engaged when we had those, plus they were cool to check out.

3. How much has your interest in the NBA grown this season and do you enjoy that brand of basketball more than in the past?

Bryan Steele: I’ve caught a couple of Knicks games on TV hoping to see Ron (Baker) play. Still want to do the same for Fred (VanVleet) but the Raptors aren’t on national TV as frequently.

I enjoy watching the individual talent because those players can do some incredible things, but I get frustrated by the ridiculous amount of moving screens and very little effort on defense. I admit it’s hard to keep the energy level that high for an 80-plus game season.

Ty Houseman: I watch 100 perrcent more regular season NBA now than I used to, only to see Ron or Fred play. NBA playoff basketball is fun to watch but the regular season is mind numbing. There is only so much isolation basketball you can watch. It probably doesn’t help that being a Wichita State fan, I’m a fan of defense and the Knicks may have the two worst defenders in the NBA on their team.

Sara Orr Jones: It’s exponentially grown — not so much for the teams, but because of two particular players.

This season, it’s been a real rush to watch Fred and Ron realize their dreams, play in NBA arenas with and against sports celebrities, enjoy huge fan bases and a nice chunk of change to boot.

Russell Lowden: My interest has grown this year only for the fact that I have been following the Knicks and the Raptors to see Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet! Really wish I knew how the Knicks determine Baker’s playing time. Started three games, played 20 minutes the next game he didn’t start, and then zero minutes.

Joe Stroud: My interest in the NBA has grown since Fred VanVleet signed with the Toronto Raptors. I watch the Raptors games to see if Fred will be called off the bench to play. I even ordered a Custom NBA Jersey with No. 23 and Fred VanVleet imprinted on it.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop