▪ Wichita State will be without freshman forward Zach Brown, sidelined with a concussion. In the past 11 games, Brown averaged 11.5 minutes and 1.5 points. Ria’n Holland (foot) and Shaq Morris (knee) practiced Friday and participated in Saturday afternoon’s shoot-around.
On Jan. 1, Brown led my list of reserves likely to be a solid, sometimes more, contributor by Feb. 1. He scored 10, 9 and 7 points in Hawaii and looked like a riser. Shaq Morris is now that player and Brown is inconsistent, like most of WSU’s reserves. He’s shown good shooting ability and his athletic skills can help him on defense. But he hasn’t translated that into consistent production.
Perhaps one less option off the bench will help WSU coaches figure out who can help. Those minutes will go to somebody.
▪ MSU is without point guard Dorrian Williams, also due to a concussion. The Bears added walk-on Ben Denbow, a 6-foot-5 junior. That gives them nine healthy players.
Injuries are cyclical and there have been seasons (notably 2007-08 and 2012-13) when it seemed as if the Shockers played down a man or three every game. This season, the Shockers are on the right side of roster upheaval.
Illinois State was without injured DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Deontae Hawkins on Jan. 4. Bradley leading scorer Warren Jones missed both meetings with WSU and guards Ka’Darryl Bell and Anthony Fields missed the second meeting. Missouri State leading scorer Marcus Marshall left the team before the Jan. 21 meeting. Loyola’s Milton Doyle missed the Jan. 28 game against the Shockers with a sprained ankle.
▪ Members of the 1964-65 Final Four team watched Saturday afternoon’s practice, part of their reunion weekend that included Friday’s practice and banquet. They will be introduced at halftime of Saturday’s game.
One of the best thing WSU coach Gregg Marshall does, in addition to winning a billion games, is embracing WSU’s history. Not every coach is secure enough or willing to do those kind of things. He loves the MTXE stuff from the 1980s and enjoys the association with the 1965 team.
“Us doing what we’re doing now, and going back to the Final Four, and having the national spotlight that we’ve had the last handful seasons, is a great reflection on them, Marshall said. “When you talk about Final Four, then you go back and talk about their Final Four. Same thing with the MTXE guys.”