2007-08 Wichita State Basketball Preview
Wichita State Shockers
Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank: #4 Missouri Valley
2006-07: 17-14, 8-10, 6th
2006-07 postseason: none
Wichita State lost its coach, three graduating seniors and a trio of transfers. All the turnover may cause some problems early in the season, but by the time the Shockers start taking on the Missouri Valley Conference, they will be nothing but dangerous. Coach Gregg Marshall can take the Shockers to the next level, but he will have to bring his team together very quickly if Wichita State wants to end up on top of the conference this year.
The Shockers have lost four of their top five scorers in Kyle Wilson, Sean Ogirri, Karon Bradley and Ryan Martin. Wilson led the way with 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. The forward’s ability to stretch the defense with his consistent outside shooting will be difficult to replace. Ogirri, who has opted to transfer, was the team’s most prolific outside shooter and averaged 9.5 points per game. Bradley, the dynamic wing, did a little bit of everything and Martin was an invaluable rebounding threat out of the backcourt. Chris Brown and Ryan Bradley are transferring after seeing limited action during the 2006-2007 campaign.
The Shockers only have five guys on their roster who played for the team last year. That means this is a long list and some of them will have to be impact players sooner rather than later. The frontcourt has the most need and Ramon Clemente, Arbry Butler, J.T. Durley, Ehimen Orupke and Brett Burley will look to fill the void. Clemente was a dominating post scorer at the junior college level and earned Junior College Athletic Association Division I All-American third team honors last year. Clemente is a fine finisher and will work quickly under the basket and should at least be a serviceable option even while he is adjusting to the level of play. Butler needed to hit the weight room during his redshirt season, but he is a good athlete and can use his quickness to get around opposing power forwards. At 6-7, Durley is a bit shorter than Butler, but this redshirt freshman has the big body that Butler lacks. He is a solid scorer and a decent passer from the post. Orupke has a ton of potential. Right now the seven-footer can help on the glass and on the defensive end, but if he can develop an offensive game and learn Coach Marshall’s style, he will be a great player. Brett Burley is not really a frontcourt player. He is a big guy, but he has a nice shot and plays more like a slasher than a post player. A 6-7 wing is a nice mismatch in the MVC. Speaking of 6-7 wings, Wichita State has a couple more who are expected to make a big splash with Aaron Ellis and Mantas Griskenas. Ellis is a skilled athlete who can get to the basket and hit the outside shot with consistency. Griskenas is a hardworking, smooth shooting player who cannot be left on the bench for long. Graham Hatch will have to battle for minutes at the shooting guard position and walk-ons Lance Harris and Bret Michael will provide emergency depth.
Who to Watch:
If all was well in Shockerland, P.J. Couisnard would be playing the shooting guard position. Instead, he spent last season as a small forward, where he averaged 11.8 points per game and a team high 5.8 rebounds. Couisnard is not the greatest shooter in the world, or in Kansas, or on the team for that matter, but he will be the heart and soul of this year’s squad. If one of the newcomers (Griskenas or Ellis) proves that they deserve a starting role at small forward, Couisnard will be moved to the two. In the meantime, Gal Mekel will handle the duties. Mekel only started three contests during his freshman campaign but showed occasional times of productivity. Matt Braeuer returns to run the point after averaging 3.3 assists and just 1.2 turnovers per contest. He is also the best returning long range shooter on the team, which will not last long once the newcomers suit up, but he can at least keep the defense honest. Junior Wendell Preadom will provide backcourt depth along with the incoming players.
Phillip Thomasson provided the lone interior threat last year and averaged 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. This year, WSU should have a bigger lineup on the floor and a couple of guards will not have to lead the team in rebounding. This group has a ton of potential and it all falls on Coach Marshall to pull the troops together and get them playing his brand of basketball. When that happens, nobody will want to face the Shockers.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Matt Braeuer, Senior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Gal Mekel, Sophomore, Guard, 4.0 points per game
P.J. Couisnard, Senior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Ramon Clemente, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Phillip Thomasson, Senior, Forward, 6.1 points per game