▪ The Missouri Valley Conference round robin exposes all sorts of flaws.
Ask Drake, losers of six straight games after a 5-4 MVC start positioned the Bulldogs as a pleasant surprise.
Wichita State junior Darral Willis played a season-low six minutes on Sunday at Loyola. WSU coach Gregg Marshall pinned the playing time on defense. Guarding the Ramblers requires a lot of work on the perimeter because they rarely play with a post man. That isn’t Willis’ strong suit in his first season in the program.
“It's harder for him to guard smaller perimeter players, and there's a lot of those guys in our league,” Marshall said. “We think he can play the (power forward) against a lot of teams, but certain teams he's strictly a (center).”
Willis’ minutes are slipping in MVC play. He attracted a lot of defensive attention with some big scoring games in January. Score 25 points in the MVC opener against Indiana State, as he did, and coaches take notice. Loyola ran aggressive double teams at the WSU big men and that’s a tactic Willis needs to improve against.
Willis’ default move on offense is to shoot. That works sometimes, but not always. Beating a double-team requires either a quick read to pass or the patience to move out of the double-team and then pass.
“When he gets the ball now, (opponents) are sending a second defender,” Marshall said. “He's never dealt with that — other than our practices — and he hasn't handled it great. Once that double-team, or sometimes triple-team comes, you've got to make the simple pass out of the post and not attempt to score.”
▪ Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said junior center Thik Bol, also a juco transfer, is going through similar struggles.
“Most junior college players, you get about a year-and-a-half,” Hinson said. “The second time around people figure out what you do. People … have figured out what his weaknesses are and they’ve attacked it. You really don’t have the opportunity at this time to adjust to those weaknesses. That comes from practice and the off-season.”
▪ WSU guard John Robert Simon went through Wednesday’s shoot-around. Simon missed Sunday’s game with a sprained left foot.
▪ The Salukis lead the MVC by forcing turnovers on 20.4 percent of possessions in conference games. WSU leads the MVC by committing turnovers on 16.2 percent of its possessions in conference play.
In the first game, SIU forced 13 turnovers and committed 13. That’s not nearly good enough to swing other factors in its favor.
SIU was short-handed, missing starter Sean Lloyd and backup Leo Vincent, in that game.
“They like to turn you over,” Marshall said. “We turn people over, but they turn people over even better than us. We assume they'll play some zone, and they've shown some triangle-and-2.”
at Southern Illinois
- When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: SIU Arena, Carbondale, Ill.
- Records: WSU 23-4, 13-1 MVC; SIU 14-13, 7-7
- Radio: 103.7-FM
- TV: Cox 22
- Online: ESPN3.com (blackouts apply)
at Southern Illinois
Wichita State (22-4, 12-1 MVC): WSU won the first meeting 87-45 on Jan. 24. McDuffie scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds and the Shockers shot 56.1 percent from the field. F Darral Willis came off the bench to score 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting. … WSU held SIU to 15 of 54 field goals (27.8 percent) and a season-low 0.83 percent (1 of 12) from three-point range. … Shamet needs one three-pointer to break WSU’s freshman record for consecutive games with a three. Randy Burns made at least one in 16 straight games in 2001-02. Shamet has 49 threes. Chad Elstun (1992-93) holds the freshman mark with 59. … WSU has won eight straight in the series and three in a row at SIU Arena. WSU’s longest win streak in the series is nine from 1980-84.
SIU (14-13, 7-7): Lloyd and G Leo Vincent did not play in the first meeting due to a brief academic investigation. Both returned the next game. Vincent averages 8.3 points and scored a season-high 21 in Saturday’s 75-70 home loss to Evansville. SIU has not led in its past two games, also including a 49-41 loss at Northern Iowa. It shot below 40 percent in the first half of both games and in seven of the past eight. … SIU leads the MVC in offensive rebounds (11.9) and steals (7.2) in conference games.
RPI rank as of Wednesday: WSU 45, SIU 177