Shocker Madness was nice this year. Nothing drastically different about the evening, compared to others like it. The change to Thursday over Saturday didn’t make much difference, I would suspect around 4,000 people showed up. A lot of people did like I did, and showed up late, just because of time constraints of making it after work. I started watching the women play with 12 minutes left in their 20 minute scrimmage. They looked fairly polished, moved the offense well, and played good defense. After the scrimmage, they set up the court for the ring ceremony. It was nice to see the team get them, but the most touching part was seeing all the men interact with President Beggs and First Lady Shirley Beggs. When Coach Marshall presented the rings to Don and Shirley, he spoke with love and respect. You could tell there was admiration and friendship in his speech. It was nice and sad at the same time to see the Beggs’ out there, knowing that he’s retiring in the near future, you could really tell they enjoyed being out there with the team.
The men started after the ring ceremony, and I was trying to make notes of who played on which team, but then after the half they switched the teams up a bit, so it’s kind of pointless. I’ll just give individual recaps of what I saw.
Ragland: First noticed that he didn’t get a ring, then noticed he wasn’t even out there on the floor. He was suspended for skipping class. Coach Marshall stated he could be suspended even up to the Emporia State game. The lack of Ragland at the point hurt. There were turnovers, and neither team looked good from a tempo stand point.
Murry: Played a good 14 minute stretch. He had a few drives, some kick outs, and played like Toure does. Nothing much to report on his play. However, he did go up for a dunk and was fouled at the rim, he fell on his back and head. I was at the other end of the court and didn’t see the fall completely, but it was loud, and he laid on the ground for what seemed 3 to 5 minutes. He walked off to the locker room, and then came out in the 2nd half and sat behind the bench with his jersey off. The word is that his ribs are bruised, and they’re not broken, but he sure did take a hard fall.
Stutz: By far the most impressive player of the evening. He looked like the Stutz that played in the NIT, and not the Stutz that didn’t show up in the middle of last season. He looked more confident in the post, and seemed to be in control of movements at all times. I felt last year that he had a hard time moving around the post with the ball. This year he made clear, concise decisions, and acted on them. He had a nice baby hook shot with his left hand that stuck out to me. It was a really nice maneuver around Ehimen, and one of the only moves you can do to him. Stutz scored well, and showed up Ehimen, but give credit to Ehimen because Stutz will be the best Center in The Valley. Queue up Paul Miller senior season comparisons.
Kyles: What can I say? David Kyles had a very David Kyles night. He wasn’t hot but he wasn’t cold either. He knows the offense, he knows where to be, he made a few shots, he missed a few. I think for me Kyles has such flashes of greatness that when he performs like he did at Shocker Madness I get disappointed, but have to remember that he didn’t have a bad night, he just didn’t have a great night. If he can harness his skills into a fluid consciousness that can be turned on every game, he is the best player on this team. Until he can do that, he’ll be a solid player, with solid minutes, but not be the star. Lets just hope Kyles catches his lightning in a bottle at the right time this season.
Smith: He had probably the most unexpected night of all the players. I had heard that he elevated his game this year, and was a bit skeptical. He had good stats in Brazil, which gave me some hope, and then he played tonight, and it all came together. I could be wrong, but it looks like Ben is a bit leaner this year. He drives well, and is deceptively fast. I don’t remember him having such quickness to the rim last year. He also has a surprisingly good 3-point shot. I think he had two or three 3-pointers. I might classify him as the most improved player from last year. He will have solid minutes this year.
Williams: Demetric had an o.k. night. No flashes of greatness but played solid enough that I’ll feel confident with him in there to back up Ragland. I think next year’s battle for the point guard position will be a tough one. Williams was fast and aggressive but a bit wild at times. Game experience will help with his decision making, but I hope his turn overs won’t be a set back for the team when he needs to give Ragland a break.
Orukpe: Solid improvement with his fundamentals. I didn’t see him fumble a pass that wasn’t already a bad pass to begin with. He had improvement on his touch around the rim, but it still has way more room for improvement. He shines on defense. His size and athleticism shines through all the rough edges he has. He won the tip-off, and I don’t know if he timed it just right, or if he has that much more leaping ability than Stutz, but Ehimen had a good foot and a half on Garrett, no joke. He had 3-4 blocks from my count, and pinned one against the back board. The fact that he spent every minute he played guarding Stutz is such a great development note. He practices against the best center in the league every day. That has to help his development for next year. He is out of control at times and had 6 fouls through 18 minutes of the first half. He toned it down a bit in the 2nd, but he can’t do that and expect solid minutes from Coach.
Hall: The most impressive new face on the team by far. He is a game ready body, with post skills. His only learning area would have to be just to learn the system. You could feel his uneasiness far away from the rim on offense, but he fell into his own during the game. He is a board machine. Carl will be fighting for a double-double every night I think. He will take a ton of heat off Stutz this year, and I think The Shockers will continue to dominate the glass again this year. The guy can leap out of the arena by the way.
Anacreon: You could tell that missing Brazil put him a step or two behind. I felt that a lot of his mistakes were due to being out of position. When he learns the system better, which just takes time, he will be a contributor for sure. He’s got swag when he plays, and you can tell it. He seems to have a big motor, and high energy all the time. He will be a firecracker in Koch Arena in due time. I expect him to get the crowd going a few times in his career. He had a big block and then a dunk that were both equally electrifying.
White: The most impressive Freshman by far. He’s long, lean, and has skills. He’s also a smart player too. He will absolutely be a star in the future, and quite possibly could see upwards of 10 minutes a game this year. He had a very nice spin move fade-away jumper in the first half that was so polished you just know he practices that move in the gym for hours. I can definitely say that Jake has the brightest future out of all the freshman for getting minutes early, and becoming a staple in the starting lineup in the next couple years.
Baker: Ron has a good eye for basketball. You can just tell. He see’s lanes he passes through, he also see’s lanes that he can catch a pass through. He made a few passes on the evening around the post that you’d expect from an upperclassmen. He has a deceivingly big body for his height, and he uses it well where ever he is at. He had a few impressive dunks in warm ups, and had a really nice pump fake to send Kyles flying in the air to the side of him, and pulled up to sink the three. I was expecting him to miss it because he was just too wide open, and too young to handle that pressure, but he impressed me. You could tell he was a bit nervous early, but settled into his own later in the scrimmage.
Wessel: He played well for a Freshman, showed a lot of potential, and hit a couple 3-pointers. With some hard work, and learning the system I think solid PT is in his future. Reminded me a lot of Hatch from last year. Evan is only a Freshman but you can tell he likes the weight room. Had solid muscles and will only get stronger as time goes on. I really think he could be a good bench player in the future, I’m not sure if he will be a starter someday or not.
Cotton: Tekele’s size impressed me. I am not sure if it was that I’d never seen him in person, or what, but he looked maybe an inch or two taller than I expected, and he was way more stout than I expected. It was a nice surprise though because he showed a lot of promise in his play. He seemed comfortable with the system, and never seemed too far out of position at any time during the game. I think he could give us solid support minutes in the near future.
Egharevba: I’m not quite sure how to describe watching Ede play. I felt like he was a bit timid on his aggression. Watching him play in a few of his videos he seemed to show a lot of swagger and confidence and I just didn’t see that side of him at Shocker Madness. I don’t know if it was due to the crowd, the competition, age, or just had an off night, but it’s something that will come with time. I guess a good way of describing his play would be that of a typical Freshman. He didn’t disappoint me at all, you could tell he had the skill set available to him, it was just the confidence that seemed to lack. I know he’ll be a good addition to the team in a couple years and I can’t wait to see him develop under Marshall.
Mitchell: It was nice to see Joe in a Shocker jersey, I think he will enjoy his college time back home. However he needs a bit of time to polish up his game a bit, but luckily he has the time to put in, since he has to sit out this year. It will be a good learning time for him to be behind Ragland, Williams, and Armstead to learn the system and the ropes of running the point under Marshall. He was a bit inconsistent, but is a good athlete.