Wichita State Shockers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #37
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley
The 2015-16 season for Wichita State and head coach Gregg Marshall had some challenges that tested their resilience as they did drop a couple games during Missouri Valley Conference play. They also were left on the edges of their seats on Selection Sunday since the Shockers failed to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. However, they did get in and took advantage of the opportunity in the First Four in Dayton by knocking off Vanderbilt and parlayed that into an upset over Arizona a few days later in Providence. This performance validated the at-large berth for the Wichita State and was a testament to the senior leadership of Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.
2015-16 Record: 26-9, 16-2
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Gregg Marshall
Coach Record: 230-85 at Wichita State, 424-168 overall
Replacing the production on and off the court from guys like Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet will not be easy as they led this Shocker program to unprecedented heights during their tenure. Baker and VanVleet last season combined for 26.2 points per game and took care of the basketball very well as they had nearly 300 assists between the two of them and only 108 turnovers. That is going to pose a big challenge for a group of young players to have to step immediately and take advantage of the opportunity to become leaders of the team right away this season. Anthony Grady and Evan Wessel were also regular contributors last season.
Coach Marshall and his staff have brought in plenty of reinforcements this season to try and reload on the fly. C.J. Keyser is the highest rated incoming player at shooting guard. He was a three-star recruit according to ESPN and the Shockers beat out power five schools Nebraska and Utah along the way. Austin Reaves is going to look to develop into the role that VanVleet had as the floor general of the Wichita State offense at point guard this season and the quicker he can adapt to the college game, the better off the Shockers will be. Junior college players Daishon Smith and Darral Willis Jr. should also compete right away for playing time in the backcourt and at power forward, respectively.
Who to Watch:
Redshirt freshman guard Landry Shamet showed some brief flashes in the three games that he appeared in last season, averaging 8.7 points per game. The key for Shamet will be to stay healthy all season long and grow into that Ron Baker role and be able to combine both penetrating the basket and hitting open outside shots. Shaquille Morris will be back at center and was very effective shooting the basketball last season, knocking down 56.6 percent of his shots from the floor. It will be a big bonus for the Shockers if Morris can get his rebounding totals to around 7-8 per game this season. Zach Brown will look to take on a bigger role with more playing time as he averaged just under seven points in just under 20 minutes of playing time per game. There is no reason why those numbers can’t get up over 10 points per game this season. Connor Frankamp is also going to be counted to provide some instant offense as he connected on 35 percent of his shots from three point range last season. Look for Rashard Kelly to provide plenty of energy and production at both ends of the court once again this season as an experienced steadying influence on the younger players.
Wichita State always does a nice job of challenging themselves within their out of conference schedule on an annual basis. This season will be more of the same with matchups against Long Beach State and Tulsa, followed by a trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis where they will for sure meet LSU in the first round and could get a shot at Louisville in the second round if they win. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are also on the schedule with both games being played at neutral sites. The battle with the Sooners will be in Oklahoma City and the game against the Cowboys will be at the downtown Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita. The conference schedule is a bit road heavy in the early going with trips to Northern Iowa, Illinois State and Evansville. As long the Shockers can get to 2-1 during those three conference road games then they will contend once again for the Missouri Valley Conference championship and make the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Austin Reaves, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Landry Shamet, Redshirt Freshman, Guard, 8.7points per game
Conner Frankamp, Redshirt Junior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Zack Brown, Junior, Forward, 6.7 points per game
Shaquille Morris, Senior, Forward, 9.1 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.4 (189th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.0 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.9 (229, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.7 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (157, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.4 (273, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.7 (107, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.4 (51, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (128, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.9 (8, 1)