After suffering two straight losses to ranked teams in the Bahamas, Wichita State predictably returned to its winning ways at home, soundly defeating Southern Nazarene 87-57. The Shockers dominated the Division II Crimson Storm from start to finish and used the game to experiment with a new starting lineup.
Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall tried a new lineup for the game, replacing longtime starters Zach Brown and Shaq Morris with Daishon Smith and Rauno Nurger. Although Smith and Nurger struggled in their new role, Brown and Morris seemed to take the benching personally, leading the team in scoring and combining for 28 points on 11 of 15 shooting. The Crimson Storm’s Deshon Portley led all scorers with 16 points.
As expected, the Shockers dominated their over-matched opponent, so naturally, there are gobs of good in this one. For the first time since LSU, Wichita State played a complete game on both ends of the court. Offensively, the Shockers were back to their scoring ways, making 53% of their field goals and 44% of their three-pointers. On the glass, they dominated again, out-rebounding Southern Nazarene 44-28. The Shockers also had 21 assists and only 12 turnovers. The offense ran like a well-oiled machine with the players often driving the lane and looking to feed the post players.
On the defensive end, the Shockers proved their worth once again. The Crimson Storm looked flustered and out of sync for the majority of the game, making only 33% of their shots and 30% of their 3s. The Shockers snagged 30 defensive rebounds and forced 17 turnovers. It was your typical Gregg Marshall defense, and each member of Wichita State should be proud of his defensive performance.
When a team wins by 30, there isn’t a lot of bad to go around. That being said, I have to write about something. For the fifth game in a row, the Shockers have had fewer blocks than their opponents. In fact, in that five game stretch, WSU has been out-blocked 26-6. The Shockers have gone 3-2 in that stretch, but the stat is quite alarming. Going forward, WSU will need to improve its shot selection on offense, and defensively, a shot-blocker (or two) on defense needs to step up.
It’s also imperative to note how few students were at the game. By my estimate, the student section was less than half-empty (or half-full for you optimists). To those of you who were at the game, thank you. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for cheering for the Shox. Thank you for making your college experience a good one.
This message is for the students who weren’t there. I get it. Southern Nazarene is not a good opponent. Every person in Wichita would have preferred a Kansas or a Duke or a Gonzaga last night. But those schools aren’t coming to Koch Arena. Do you know what school is coming though? Wichita State. It shouldn’t matter who the Shockers are playing; you should be excited to see this team play. Honestly, I would love to see this team play anyone: East High, the Topeka YMCA, Hogwarts, you name it. I go to the Wichita State games to see the Shockers play. Yes, it’s nice when a good opponent comes to town, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. And it shouldn’t be one for you either.
I also get it. You have classes, assignments, tests to study for, papers to write. Those are all important things. But here’s some free advice from someone who graduated from college: academics aren’t everything. College is also about having fun and making memories. I don’t remember most of my tests or papers, but the good times I had in school stand out and will be with me forever. The only regret I have from college is that I didn’t do enough fun things on campus. I wish I would have gone to more basketball games. I wish I would have gone to more sporting events. I wish I would have turned off my TV and computer and experienced more of college. Books and Netflix will alway be there, but you only get one shot at college. Put your books aside for two hours, go outside your room, and experience one of the greatest college basketball environments America has to offer. If you don’t, you’ll regret it. Trust me.
Player of the Game
Zach Brown and Shaq Morris. I don’t like giving Player of the Game awards to two different players, but these two both deserve it. Both of them lost their starting spots for this game. Some players wilt in this situation. Others flourish. These two definitely flourished. Morris finished with 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting, and Brown ended up with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. More importantly, these two played with confidence and intensity once again. If the Shockers are going to have a successful season, they will need more of these elite performances from these two young men.
Tweet of the Game – Freaky Fast Delivery
— Russell Lowden (@Russdabus584) November 30, 2016
This reminds me of the time NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez was seen eating a hot dog on the sidelines of a game. Hey, if you’re hungry and the game is essentially over, why not?
On Saturday, the Shockers have their first true road game of the season, facing off against Colorado State. The Rams are 5-1 overall but are ranked 161 on KenPom. Playing away from home is always more challenging, but the Shockers should win this one.