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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 28th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Wichita State Shockers

 

Overall Rank: #41

Conference Rank: #4 MVC

 

2005-06: 26-9, 14-4, 1st

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Last season was supposed to be a transition year for Wichita State after the team lost four starters.  There was little doubt that the Shockers had the talent, but how quickly they came together should have surprised even the hardcore yellow and black kool-aid drinking WSU fans.  The frontcourt will take a major hit, but the backcourt is spectacular and with a year of experience together, this group will be heading back to the NCAAs.

 

Who’s Out: Paul Miller was the senior leader last year and led the squad with 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds.  The absence of the 6-10 center will leave the five spot relatively inexperienced.  The backcourt lost a few roleplayers in Jared Young, Nick Rogers and Cameron Ledford.  They all spent most of the year coming off the bench and their numbers will be easily replaceable. 

 

Who’s In: The help is needed up front and Phillip Thomasson will provide just that.  The 6-7 forward started the first eight games for Colorado State two years ago before opting to transfer to WSU.  Although, he’s not the ideal replacement for Miller, Thomasson at least has some experience and can help on the glass.  David King redshirted last year and the increase in strength gained during that time will help the 6-10 center find some minutes this year.  Arbry Butler has the athleticism and quickness to be a major match-up problem at the power forward spot.  He needs to gain some strength and work on his interior scoring before he can be a superstar, but that will come with time.  Incoming freshmen Chris Brown and J.T. Durley will also battle for minutes up front off the bench.  Gal Mekel, a 6-3 Tel Aviv, Israel native, will spend his freshman campaign as one of the backup point guards and shooting guards.  Mekel has the talent to contribute right away, but it will be tough goings to find many minutes in this backcourt.  Incoming walk-on Derek Brown will have a similar problem with the minutes.

 

Who to Watch: It’s all about the perimeter and Sean Ogirri, P.J. Cousinard, Matt Braeuer, Karon Bradley, Ryan Martin and Wendell Preadom are quite the backcourt.  Ogirri is an excellent long range shooter and connected on 44% from long range last year.  It would be helpful if Ogirri could get to the basket a little more, but that job can be handled by Cousinard for the time being.  Cousinard, a 6-4 wing, will start at the three.  He’s an excellent rebounder and can occasionally hit the outside shot.  Ogirri might lead the team in scoring, but Cousinard won’t be far behind.  Braeuer returns to run the point after averaging 5.4 points and 2.7 assists as a sophomore.  Along with newcomer Mekel, Bradley and Martin will provide most of the depth in the backcourt.  Bradley started 13 games last year and averaged 8.0 points.  The 5-11 guard, who played on Marquette’s final four team before heading to Wichita State, will provide plenty of talent and experience off the bench, if he indeed is relegated to the bench once again.  Although listed as a guard, at 6-5, Martin should see most of his minutes backing up the forward spots this year.  Preadom showed promise as a freshman and will be one of the backup point guards once again during the 2006-2007 campaign.

 

Final Projection: Kyle Wilson will take over the leadership role up front.  Last year the former Illinois hoopster averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 boards.  He has a nice stroke from long range, but the Shockers need him to hit the glass and spend more time in the paint.  Ryan Bradley will find some more minutes up front this year after seeing action in just nine games as a freshman.  The frontcourt issues keep the Shockers off the top of the MVC, but the backcourt will win its fair share of games on their own.  For a team that was accustomed to the size of Miller on the inside, the lack of a proven big man will cause some problems.  Still, anything less than an NCAA bid will be disappointing.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Matt Braeuer, Junior, Guard, 5.4 points per game

Sean Ogirri, Junior, Guard, 12.0 points per game

P.J. Cousinard, Junior, Guard, 10.2 points per game

Kyle Wilson, Senior, Forward, 11.3 points per game

Phillip Thomason, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

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