Little bite in these Bulldogs
Today is the day, my friends. Today is the day we put politics aside and celebrate the start of the college basketball season. Tonight at 8:30 in Charles Koch Arena, your Wichita State Shockers officially begin their season with a matchup against the South Carolina State Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are led by fourth-year head coach Murray Garvin and are looking to improve off their 19-15 record last year. SCSU finished last season with a KenPom ranking of 268, which includes an offensive efficiency rating of 195 and a defensive efficiency rating of 314. In other words, these Bulldogs weren’t very good last year, despite what their winning record might indicate.
That being said, last season is behind us, and South Carolina State has reason for optimism this year. The Bulldogs return their top two leading scorers, guards Eric Eaves and Ed Stephens, and are picked to finish second in the MEAC. If this team can find success in the post position, it could easily win its conference and find its way into the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in school history.
The Shockers had tremendous success last season (26-9, 13th on KenPom) but have several holes to fill with the departing of Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, Evan Wessel, Anton Grady, and Bush Wamukota. With all due respect to the rest of them, VanVleet will be the hardest to replace. The point guard is the most important position on Gregg Marshall’s team, and it’s still unclear who will be “that guy” this year.
Conner Frankamp, Landry Shamet, and newcomer Daishon Smith all have the potential to be the starting point guard and lead this team. Frankamp has improved greatly on his ball handling, court vision, and defense and seems like a good fit to run this offense. These three guards will have to play well tonight if the Shockers are going to be victorious.
The battle in the paint should be an interesting one tonight. Although the Bulldogs have seven players on their roster who are between 6’6” and 6’8”, five of them are freshmen. Playing in a loud arena on the road for their first game will be too much for these young players. Shocker big men Shaq Morris, Markis McDuffie, Rashard Kelly, Rauno Nurger, Darral Willis Jr., and Eric Hamilton will use their experience, athleticism, and skill to feast on the Bulldogs.
The Shockers will be the undeniably better team tonight, but they should not take the Bulldogs lightly. The Wichita State guards will have to defend well, and if they can do this, the Shockers will be victorious. Wichita State wins this one, 83-67.
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