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Gameday update: No. 25 Wichita State at Drake

Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet defends Drake’s Reed Timmer during a Dec. 31 game at Koch Arena.
Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet defends Drake’s Reed Timmer during a Dec. 31 game at Koch Arena. The Wichita Eagle

▪  Since we are on Zone Defense Red Alert, I called three coaches during my drive to Des Moines.

All three said the same thing.

Coaches who don’t regularly play zone aren’t committed to playing zone when things get tough. Man-to-man coaches play zone, often, as a last resort, are instantly suspicious of its weakness and view it as a wimpy alternative to getting after opponents. Most cannot stomach giving up open shots or offensive rebounds, two things which happen often with a zone.

So three or four good possessions by an offense can convince a coach to abandon his zone defense. That is why, in spite of Saturday’s loss to Illinois State, I don’t think Wichita State will face a heavy dose of zone defenses the rest of the season. Most teams don’t play zone. They might try it against the Shockers as a change of pace or in a special situation.

They aren’t likely to stick with it. WSU isn’t going to miss 13 of 14 three-pointers very often.

Illinois State plays zone defense and knows how to play it effectively. Those teams are rare, especially in the MVC.

One coach said something particularly interesting: “The first thing we want to do against a zone is look organized.”

That takes away the mental edge a defense gets when the offense isn’t moving. The Shockers are stocked with organizers, even if they looked unsure at times on Saturday. I don’t expect it to be a long-term problem.

▪  Drake senior Karl Madison is the lone Bulldog to know what it’s like to beat WSU. He played on the 2012 Drake team that won in triple-overtime in the Knapp Center. Injuries gave Madison a sixth season of eligibility.

▪  Drake sophomore Reed Timmer is an excellent scorer who, like many, turns bricky against the Shockers.

In three games, he is 6 of 23 from the field, 1 of 8 from three-point range. The Shockers, in addition to altering his shots, take away shots.

For his career, Timmer is shooting 46 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from three-point range.

▪  I hesitate to pass this along for all the obvious reasons. I cover Wichita State, so here it is.

If you listen to Doug Gottlieb’s — and I can hear the groans here in Iowa — appearance on Kansas City’s WHB at around the 25-minute mark, you will hear him discuss his doubts about Villanova as No. 1.

This provided an opportunity to reference WSU’s 2014 team as another team (seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament and No. 2 in the AP poll) that was a product of a weak schedule and “just not that good.”

I had a whole bunch of words typed. I erased them. It’s odd.

I don’t see any evidence that the 2014 team should be the default example for an overrated team. If you look at WSU’s schedule since 2010-11, its ability to compete with teams from Power 5 conferences doesn’t seem to be an issue, regardless of the strength of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

No. 25 Wichita State at Drake

  • When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
  • Where: Knapp Center, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Records: WSU 17-6, 11-1 MVC; DU 6-18, 1-11
  • Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
  • TV: Cox 22
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