Overall Rank: #94
Conference Rank: #5 Missouri Valley Conference
2008-09: 17-17, 8-10
2008-09 postseason: CBI
Coach: Gregg Marshall (28-37 at Wichita State, 222-120 overall)
It sure did not take Gregg Marshall very long to turn things around after a dismal start to his career at the helm of Wichita State. In 2007-2008 the Shockers won just 11 games. Last year they increased that total to 17 and reached the CBI, where they beat Buffalo before falling to Stanford. Year three of the Coach Marshall era should be even better and the Shockers will aim for a more prestigious post season tournament this time around.
Key Losses: F Ramon Clemente, G A.J. Hawkins
The Shockers and Coach Marshall are building up their program with freshmen and not looking for quick fixes by going the junior college route and it is starting to pay off. This four man class is pretty solid, led by point guard Kenny Manigault and power forward Jerome Hamilton. Johnny Coy, a mid-season transfer from Arizona State, will be eligible to play after the first semester and Gabe Blair, a transfer from East Carolina who is eligible at the beginning of the season, will provide the team with some quality depth at the forward spots. WSU does not really need any of the newcomers to contribute in a major way, but they are talented enough to give the returning players some competition for minutes.
Coach Marshall did go the junior college route with Clevin Hannah because was in dire need of an experienced ball handler and experience on the perimeter. And Hannah did not disappoint last year, leading the team with 11.2 points, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest. He shot over 40 percent from long range, but is also not afraid to take his 5-11, 155 pound frame into the lane and create shots for his teammates. The emergence of Toure’ Murry suddenly turned the backcourt into something special. As a freshman last year Murry averaged 11.0 points per game and proved to be a capable shooter and passer.
It is the absence of Ramon Clemente that is the biggest issue for this team. His 7.9 points per game can be replaced, but he was a dominating player on the glass and it will take a team effort to make up for that loss. J.T. Durley spent most of the season starting next to Clemente. Durley is a good scorer either with his back to the basket or facing the rim and his ability to step outside and hit the mid-range jumper will open up space for the rest of the frontcourt. Garrett Stutz started a dozen games last year and should step into the starting center spot. The 7-0 sophomore only averaged 12.5 minutes per game, but he could turn into a dominating player with a year of experience under his belt. Junior Aaron Ellis is not much of a scorer, but he is very tough on the glass and is a superb option off the bench when WSU needs somebody to bang people around under the basket.
Who to Watch:
Speaking of toughness, wing Graham Hatch does not lack in that department. His hustle and defensive skills earned him some starts late in the year over the now departed A.J. Hawkins and Hatch could turn into the glue guy on the wing. If he works on his shot a little bit, Hatch could turn into a decent scorer too. Sophomore David Kyles also started to show his potential late last season and is a likely candidate to be the team’s sixth man.
It is asking a little too much to expect Wichita State to go from an 8-10 record to a conference championship, but this is a talented group that beat some good teams last year. After a relatively impressive non-conference slate, the team lost their first six conference games. Just to get back to 8-10 after that is quite impressive and anything but another post season berth will be a big disappointment.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Clevin Hannah, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Toure’ Murry, Sophomore, Guard, 11.0 points per game
Graham Hatch, Junior, Guard, 3.6 points per game
J.T. Durley, Junior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Garrett Stutz, Sophomore, Center, 4.2 points per game