Bob Lutz and Paul Suellentrop on WSU's 116-79 win
Here’s an idea: Blow up the remainder of Wichita State’s basketball schedule and fill in with scrimmages between the Shockers’ first and second teams.
Or second and first teams, since WSU coach Gregg Marshall insists this team has no “starters,” even though, technically, five guys have to start.
After a fourth consecutive blowout win to start the season Sunday — 116-79 over Maryland Eastern Shore — everyone is hungry for some competition. Especially, you would presume, Marshall and his players.
Remember, diplomacy still matters so they’re not going to say that. Exactly.
“I just say we’re taking it one game at a time,” said junior forward Zach Brown, one of six Shockers to score in double figures. “There’s no telling how good a team really is until the end of the season. There are still a lot of things we still need to work on and a lot of things we could still get better at doing.”
Oh yeah, Zach? Name one.
WSU has beaten South Carolina State, Long Beach State, Tulsa and Eastern Shore by 46, 37, 27 and 37 points. That after an inauspicious exhibition win over Division II Augusta (Ga.) 73-67.
All Shocker fans are wondering what this start means because Wichita State has never had one like it. The highlight of the second halves of these games has been the weather forecast shown on the videoboard. Some guy won a two-year lease on a Mustang on Sunday for making a half-court shot and it was clearly the loudest moment of the afternoon.
Wichita State is putting people to sleep, and not just its opponents.
So I propose selling tickets to a scrimmage between the starters (forwards Brown and Rashard Kelly, center Shaq Morris and guards Conner Frankamp and Landry Shamet) and the second teamers (forwards Markis McDuffie and Darral Willis, center Rauno Nurger and guards Austin Reaves and Daishon Smith).
Yeah, let’s see that.
“Sometimes as coaches we get upset in practice because things don’t look so good,” Marshall said. “So maybe that’s because we’re going up against good players. And not just that, a team full of good players.”
The starters combined for 52 points on 17-of-25 shooting against Eastern Shore. The next five combined for 55 points on 14-of-18 shooting.
The starters made 6 of 11 three-point attempts and were 12 of 17 from the line. The reserves were 9 of 10 from the three-point line and 18 of 22 from the line.
The starters had 10 assists, the reserves nine.
A best-of-7 between these teams would for sure go the limit.
“The practices are definitely helpful for games,” Marshall said. “Because we have so many options. Quality options with no drop-off. When you bring in Willis, McDuffie, Daishon, Reeves and Nurger off the bench.… That five could start a lot of places, and probably some of them will end up starting here.”
The Shockers do up the ante with competition this week in the Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas, starting with a first-round game Wednesday morning against LSU (3-0).
Louisville, Old Dominion, Michigan State, St. John’s, Baylor and VCU are also in the field, with a combined 21-3 record including LSU and WSU.
Finally, competition. At least one would think.
“We’ve accomplished our first team goal to be 4-0 heading into the Bahamas, where the competition will be stiff,” Marshall said. “We know that and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
The Shockers shot up the arena Sunday, but what does it all mean? In fact, that’s the burning question to this season’s blazing start — what does it mean?
“I think it means we’re 4-0,” Marshall said. “I don’t know how these teams we’ve beaten will end up the year. I hope all of them will do well, but we couldn’t have afforded to lose one of these games — that wouldn’t have been great.
“We did what we needed to do and we did it with some margins. I don’t know how much of that is us or how much is the new rules and all the foul shots. But we do have a lot of offensive weapons.”
What Marshall didn’t say is how much these blowouts have to do with the Shockers’ early opponents. That’s the unknown and something that should be cleared up during the next week.
After that, for the most part the schedule gets tougher. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are future opponents and there could even be some resistence in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The days of 37- and 46-point wins should be winding down.
“There’s no telling how good this team could be until we get to the end,” Brown said. “And even then, we have a whole ’nother year with this exact same team. There’s still a lot that can be done and will be done.”
One word sums it up so far: Wow.