#38 Wichita St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley Conference
2009-10: 25-10, 12-6
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Gregg Marshall (53-47 at Wichita State, 247-130 overall)
Coach Gregg Marshall has slowly been rebuilding Wichita State. After a dismal 4-14 conference record three years ago, Coach Marshall has led his Shockers to two consecutive postseason appearances. Neither of those have been to the NCAA Tournament, but that is the next step for Wichita State.
Key Losses: G Clevin Hannah
The biggest need out of this recruiting class is to find a replacement for point guard Clevin Hannah. There are some returning players who could fill the role, but junior college transfer Joe Ragland is a great fit in the system and should be running the show from day one. Fellow junior college transfer Ben Smith will add even more depth to what is turning into a deep and extremely talented backcourt. Add incoming freshmen Trey Jones and Randall Vautravers to that list and the Shockers have plenty of weapons on the perimeter. Jerome Hamilton redshirted last season and is a great athlete, but he should still find it difficult to find quality minutes this season. The same can be said for seven-footer Ehimen Orukpe, although his ability to block shots could turn him into a decent roleplayer this season.
With Ragland running the show, Toure’ Murry can do exactly what he did last year…be the secondary ball handler on the floor and score a lot of points. Toure’ Murry is a superb all-around player and averaged an impressive 11.9 points, 3.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season. As an upperclassman, Murry should be even better assuming the point guards can get the job done. Despite Murry’s ability to handle the ball, when Hannah was out of the game last year it was usually Demetric Williams who brought the ball up the court. Williams may again be relegated to backup duty, but between him and Ragland, the Shockers have two fine ball handlers and that will allow Murry to be the second ball handler that Coach Marshall likes to have on the floor. David Kyles can handle the ball as well and he has turned into a fine backup at the two and three spots.
The Shockers have four big men who averaged between 16.5 and 25.1 minutes per game last year. J.T. Durley, Garrett Stutz, Aaron Ellis and Gabe Blair handled almost all of the minutes at the four and five spots last season and will do so again this year. Durley, a 6-7 junior, is the best scorer of the group. He has the strength to battle in the paint, but Durley can also stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Stutz only started five games last season, but the seven-footer made a lot of progress during his sophomore campaign and could be ready to play more minutes. After averaging 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in limited action last season, he could be in for a big junior campaign if he can stay on the floor. Ellis was the usual starter at the center position and provides a defensive edge that Stutz lacks. Ellis, despite his mere 3.5 points per game average during the 2009-2010 season, is a much better scorer than that number indicates. Blair is the do-it-all forward who will always play tough and can score, hit the glass and play solid defense.
Who to Watch:
The man between the ball handling scoring guards and the rotating big men is Graham Hatch. With Hannah off the team, Hatch will have to play a bigger role in the scoring department, especially from beyond the arc. Hatch is a capable shooter who connected on 37.3 percent of his attempts from long range, but now he will be asked to shoot more and use his 6-4, 205 pound frame to attack the basket.
Obviously the key here is at the point guard spot. Everybody else is back and a year older and wiser. However, that should not be much of an issue with Williams and Ragland. Maybe it will take Ragland a little while to adjust to life in the Missouri Valley Conference, but he is a great pickup for WSU and should be the answer from day one. If not, Williams can start and Ragland can provide depth off of the bench. Either way this is an NCAA team.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Joe Ragland, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Toure’ Murry, Junior, Guard, 11.9 ppg
Graham Hatch, Senior, Guard, 9.2 ppg
J.T. Durley, Senior, Forward, 11.2 ppg
Garrett Stutz, Junior, Center, 7.8 ppg
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