#13 Wichita State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Wichita State Shockers

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley

Wichita State Team Page#13 Wichita State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Wichita State Basketball Tickets

Wichita State entered the NCAA Tournament with a 34-0 record. That is an epic accomplishment that few will forget about for a long time. The Shockers ran into a Kentucky team that would go on to national title game back in the Round of 32. The 78-76 loss was disappointing, but it was obviously a massive year for the Wichita State program. This year the Shockers may not be a perfect 18-0 in the Missouri Valley again, but the conference is better top to bottom and this group will be just as dangerous as they were last March.

2013-14 Record: 35-1, 18-0
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Gregg Marshall
Coach Record: 174-71 at Wichita State, 368-154 overall

Who’s Out:
But losing the team’s top leading scorer and rebounder does leave a cause for concern. Cleanthony Early topped the Shockers with 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. Not just a frontcourt scorer, Early was a nightmare to guard on the perimeter too. He knocked down 37.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Chadrack Lufile and Kadeem Coleby split starts beside Early in the Shocker frontcourt. Lufile was the more productive player, averaging 5.9 points and 5.0 rebounds, but losing Early, Lufile and Coleby is a massive blow to the frontcourt. Nick Wiggins was occasionally a decent scorer from the wing. He averaged 15.2 minutes per game and was not opposed to using that time to hoist up a lot of three balls. Little used Derail Green is the other departure.

Who’s In:
With all of the frontcourt departures, Coach Gregg Marshall went out and picked up a few players from the junior college level who could make an immediate impact. Tevin Glass was a scoring threat at the junior college level and should at least be solid on the glass. Bush Wamukota is a big 6-11, 232 pound junior who can play solid defense. Those two will have to play a pretty large role in the frontcourt. Freshmen Rashard Kelly, Shaquille Morris and Rauno Nurger are other frontcourt options. Kelly is a superb rebounder and Morris has some experience after redshirting last season, so those two are certainly capable of pushing for quality minutes. Small forward Zach Brown can do a little bit of everything and has a good shot at working his way into the regular rotation. Jared Walker, Corey Henderson and Ria’n Howard will add options on the perimeter. Henderson is an interesting freshman to watch and could turn into the backup point guard.

Who to Watch:
While the frontcourt retools, the backcourt is among the best in the country. And it does not get any better than point guard Fred VanVleet. As a sophomore, VanVleet dished out 5.4 assists per game and committed just 1.3 turnovers. There aren’t many point guards out there who are as efficient as VanVleet. He is a great scorer too and averaged 11.6 points per game and knocked down 41.8 percent of his three-point attempts last year. But VanVleet will spend most of his time setting up backcourt mates Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton. Baker is the team’s top returning scorer at 13.1 points per game and knocked down a team-high 68 three-pointers. He also dished out 3.1 assists and added 3.8 rebounds. Tekele Cotton has developed into a solid scorer to go along with his immense defensive abilities. He may not be as efficient from long range as his backcourt mates, but he still shot 37.1 percent from beyond the arc last year. Evan Wessel and John Robert Simon will provide most of the depth on the perimeter. Wessel is ready for a bigger role as a junior and Simon showed flashes as a freshman.

Final Projection:
If this team is going to come close to repeating last year’s success, the new frontcourt must step up. Besides all of the newcomers, Coach Marshall does have Darius Carter and Zach Bush. Carter, a 6-7 senior, is the most experienced forward on the roster and averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2013-2014. Bush saw far less action. This team will get rebounding help from the backcourt, which is how they ranked eighth in the nation with a 7.4 rebound margin, but that number could take a big dip. Something that will not dip is the intensity on defense and that is enough to make this a very dangerous team all year long.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Fred VanVleet, Junior, Guard, 11.6 points per game
Tekele Cotton, Senior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Ron Baker, Junior, Guard, 13.1 points per game
Tevin Glass, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Darius Carter, Senior, Forward, 7.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.2 (63rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.5 (9, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (76, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.0 (11, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (105, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.1 (133, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.5 (78, 1)
Rebound Margin: 7.4 (8, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (95, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.4 (29, 1)


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