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Preseason Preview: Wichita State

Rowsey Howard

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We’re getting towards the end of the list and next is our most likely opponent for the second round of the Maui Invitational, the Shockers of Wichita State.

Team: Wichita State Shockers
16-17 Record: 31-5 (17-1 MVC)
Postseason?: Was underseeded as a 10 seed. Beat Dayton in the first round before giving 2 seeded a Kentucky a scare, losing by 3.
16-17 KenPom: 8
Date: 11/21/17
Location: Lahaina Civic Center (Lahaina, HI)
Coach: Gregg Marshall (11th Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 1-15
Projected Conference Finish: 1/12 in the AAC

Departures from 16-17
Daishon Smith: 3rd Man off the Bench: 14.9 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .410 FG%, .384 3P% (Graduate transferred to UL Monroe)
Eric Hamilton: 7th Man off the Bench: 4.7 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.1 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .295 FG%, .167 3P% (Transferred to UNC-Greensboro)
John Robert Simon: 8th Man off the Bench: 4.2 mpg, 1.1 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .538 FG%, .500 3P% (Graduated)
Zach Bush: 8th Man off the Bench: 2.5 mpg, 0.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.1 tpg, .273 FG%, .167 3P% (Graduated)
8% of scoring, 9% of rebounding, 14% of assists, 21% of steals, 5% of blocks, 12% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Semajae Jones: JUCO transfer PG from Hutchinson Community College
Rodgerick Brown: 3-star SF, ranked #202 overall by 247Sports
Asbjorn Midtgaard: 2-star C, unranked by any services due to playing overseas
Brycen Bush: Walk on PG
Jacob Herrs: Walk on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Landry Shamet: 6-4 180 lb RSSO: 26.7 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .472 FG%, .439 3P%
SG: Connor Frankamp: 6-1 171 lb RSSR: 23.9 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .446 FG%, .440 3P%
SF: Zach Brown: 6-6 213 lb SR: 21.0 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .408 FG%, .345 3P%
PF: Rashard Kelly: 6-7 227 lb SR: 16.8 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .493 FG%, .435 3P%
C: Shaquille Morris: 6-8 279 lb RSSR: 18.0 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .523 FG%, .286 3P%

Probable Bench:
Darral Willis Jr: 6-9 225 lb SR PF
Rauno Nurger: 6-10 232 lb SR C
Semajae Jones: 6-0 177 lb JR PG
Austin Reaves: 6-5 174 lb SO PG
CJ Keyser: 6-3 185 lb SO SG

Probable Benchwarmers:
Asbjorn Midtgaard: 7-0 270 lb FR C
Rodgerick Brown: 6-6 190 lb FR SF
Brett Barney: 6-9 210 lb RSSO PF
Kaelen Malone: 6-0 168 lb RSJR PG
Brycen Bush: 6-0 152 lb FR PG
Jacob Herrs: 6-3 164 lb FR SG
Markis McDuffie: 6-8 203 lb JR SF (Injured)

Notes:

• While their seed in the NCAA tournament rarely reflects it, Wichita State has been a KenPom darling for the past 6 seasons. During that stretch, the Shockers have never been rated lower than 17th in the nation by Pomeroy’s system. The question becomes if they have been overranked by KenPom because they were able to run up the score against their mid-major opponents or unfairly dismissed because of that same conference. The Shockers finally have the opportunity to answer that question as they ditched the Missouri Valley Conference for the AAC. Now, the AAC is still at the mid-major level in my opinion, but it is a significant step up in competition for the Shockers. Despite being the new kids on the block, Wichita State is poised to run right over the rest of the AAC and finally get the recognition it deserves as one of the better programs in the country.
• When Wichita State first popped up as a possible non-conference opponent for Marquette, it was chalked up as a near automatic loss. The Shockers were a top 10 team in KenPom last season, lost only a few bench players, bring in a JUCO all American, and feature 6 seniors in their top 8 players. Two significant injuries have changed the outlook on this game. First, starting PG and potential All American Landry Shamet broke his foot in a summer scrimmage. This is the second foot injury of his career though the first one occurred in his other foot. Shamet underwent surgery and is currently recovering. The initial timetable for his return was “Mid-November” as in right around the Maui Invitational. It’s possible that he will miss the tournament or at least be rusty if he plays. The second injury occurred to starting F Markis Mcduffie, another broken foot. He did not require surgery but he will be out until at least mid-December. These injuries take out the top two returning scorers for the Shockers and bring this game from unwinnable to Marquette possibly being the favorite to win. You should never hope for a player to be injured…but to hope that a player who is already injured stays injured until the game after you play his team….that’s not so bad.
• If you had to describe the Wichita State backcourt in three words it would be “absurd offensive efficiency.” Both the potentially injured Shamet and his running mate Connor Frankamp ranked in the 95th percentile or higher for all Division 1 basketball players in points per possession despite both having a decently high volume. Shamet is the more versatile of the two. He is a lethal shooter shooting 44% on 164 attempts from distance but also near unstoppable when attacking out of the pick and roll. His defense is unremarkable but solid enough that he is not a liablity. Frankamp is a prototypical three and d type guard. The former Jayhawk can attack in multiple ways but is much more dependent on the three to score. Defensively he is relentless despite his small size. He has the speed to shut down guards on the perimeter and enough hops to challenge jumpshooters. Shamet is the primary ball handler but Frankamp can take over when Shamet needs a break….or is injured.
• Though they often employ a 2 guard, 2 wing, 1 big offense, Wichita State has trio of quality big men who anchor them in the post. The most physically imposing of these is Shaquille Morris. He may only be 6”8 but he’s 280 lbs of muscle that is used to throwing around taller players in the post. His offensive game is mostly confined to the post, though he did take a few outside shots last season. His post up moves are mostly based on pure strength but he has enough of it to make most of his attempts near the rim. Morris also ranks as the team’s best rim protector with 1.0 blocks per game. The most intriguing of the trio is Darral Willis Jr. The discerning Marquette fan might remember that Willis Jr took a visit to Marquette before committing to the Shockers. To date, he is the only JUCO recruit to visit campus during the Wojo era. Willis Jr was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding despite only playing 16 minutes a game. His athleticism makes him a bully in the post and on the boards but his speed allowed him to cover wings and challenge shots on the perimeter. Willis Jr’s specialty is drawing fouls in the post. He had a couple of Games with double digit free throw attempts, including one where he shot 17 free throws (making 14) in a losing effort to Oklahoma State. The last member of the trio is Rauno Nurger. The Estonian native is part of a rich tradition of skilled European big man with a soft shooting touch. In limited attempts Nurger shot 46% from deep which made him a dangerous matchup problem. Defensively, he was fantastic at shutting down opposing bigs. In the 33 times an opponent attempted to post up Nurger, he only allowed 20 points which ranked in the top 20% of all Division 1 players.
• With so many players returning, Coach Marshall didn’t need to add much in his 2017 class. He added a trio of players, two of whom are likely projects but one who could possibly compete for a starting spot. That recruit is JUCO transfer Seamjae Jones. Jones comes out of JUCO powerhouse Hutchinson Community College, the same program that produced Darius Johnson-Odom. Jones, along with #1 overall JUCO Shakur Justison, led Hutchinson to four wins in a row and a NJCAA national championship. For his role as the starting PG, Jones earned a 2nd Team JUCO All American honor. Jones will continue Wichita State’s recent history of sharpshooting, score first PGs. He hit 73 three pointers with 42% accuracy. He will likely come off the bench to back up Shamet and Frankamp as a very efficient scorer with potential to put up a lot of points in a short period of time. Joining Jones is Denmark born Asbjorn “The Mountain” Midtgaard. He is physical specimen at 7-0 270 lb. He comes in unranked because he played overseas but any player with that size will have an opportunity to earn early playing time. The last member is Rodgerick Brown out of Tennessee. He was a three-star rated in the low 200s for the class of 2018. He was a year older than most people in his class and Tennessee high school rules were going to keep him from playing his senior year. Instead, he managed to graduate early and is a likely redshirt candidate in his first season.

Prediction:

If Marquette plays Wichita State, they will be the best team Marquette will see in the non-conference season. If the Shockers were fully healthy this game would be nigh unwinnable. Knowing that McDuffie will be out opens the door for a Marquette victory a little bit. If Shamet is out as well, this all of the sudden becomes a 50-50 game that could be a much better looking win come March. Shamet is expected to be available so we will operate under the assumption that he will be in the game. Marquette keeps it interesting by trading threes back and forth with the Shockers. The difference is Wichita State’s superior defenders who are able to limit Marquette’s offense enough to get the job done. Marquette falls in the second round by around 10.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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