2008-09 Wichita State Basketball Preview: #134
Wichita State Shockers
Overall Rank: #134
Conference Rank: #7 Missouri Valley
2007-08: 11-20, 4-14, 9th
2007-08 postseason: none
There is simply way too much talent and athleticism on this team for Wichita State to stay towards the bottom on the conference. Even if the team has some growing pains, by March they will be extremely dangerous. It is unrealistic to expect great things with this inexperienced team, but the expectations will build in a year or two. For now, the Shockers should forget about last year and start building towards future championships.
And with the top four scorers gone, there is plenty of rebuilding to be done by Coach Gregg Marshall. P.J. Couisnard was the heart and soul of the Shockers last year, leading the team with 13.4 points and adding 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per contest. Matt Braeuer was the three-point specialist and the only other player to average double figures in scoring and Gal Mekel led the team in assists. Phillip Thomasson was the most effective post scorer and adding Lance Harris to that list, and Wichita State is looking for some new leaders and scorers.
The newcomers will have to be ready to play from day one and as many as four of them could be starting sooner or later…mostly sooner. The backcourt needs the most help and Clevin Hannah, Reggie Chamberlain, Toure Murry and David Kyles will provide. Hannah can score in bunches and can handle the ball. At 6-0, he is a little small to be a two guard, but nobody will care as long as the junior college transfer can score with consistency. Chamberlain is a lot like Hannah…a 6-0 junior college guard who can play either the point or the off guard spot. Chamberlain has a smooth looking shot. Between Hannah and Chamberlain, whoever looks better bringing the ball up the court will run the point. The other could start at shooting guard. Either way, having a couple guys who can score and handle the ball, not to mention having some experience, will help immensely. Kyles is a great athlete and will compete for time on the wing, but the best of the newcomers is a transfer. A.J. Hawkins, a 6-5 wing, averaged 12.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists at St. Bonaventure during the 2006-2007 campaign. With one year on the sidelines in Wichita, Hawkins will be ready to become a team leader for the next two seasons. The newcomers in the frontcourt will have a little more time to adjust. Garrett Stutz and Ehimen Orukpe are both seven-footers. They will need some time to develop, but will be ready when the team needs them in a year or two.
Who to Watch:
Nearly all of the returning experience is in the frontcourt. Ramon Clemente led the Shockers with 7.9 rebounds per game during his junior campaign. He is also a decent scorer around the basket, but he will have to be even better this year. Fellow forward J.T. Durley is the better offensive weapon, coming off a freshman campaign where he averaged 7.0 points per game. Durley’s minutes were limited last year and he did not earn a start all season, but with a year of experience, Durley is expected to become a bigger contributor. And if he can double his minutes and double his scoring output, he will be one of the best scorers on the team. The problem is he cannot see that many minutes if he also doubles his fouls. With Mantas Griskenas and Aaron Ellis, the Shockers even have experienced backups in the frontcourt.
How long will it take for all the new faces to start playing like a team? If it happens by November, Wichita State will be much better than expected. If it never happens, it will be another long year for Coach Gregg Marshall and the Shocker faithful.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Reggie Chamberlain, Sophomore, Guard DNP last season
Clevin Hannah, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
A.J. Hawkins, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Ramon Clemente, Senior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
J.T. Durley, Sophomore, Forward, 7.0 points per game