Despite making the Sweet 16 last season and winning back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference titles, Northern Iowa will not be the favorite this season. That distinction belongs to Wichita State who only loses one key player from a year ago.
By: David Kay
Wichita State Shockers (2nd, 12-6 in MVC, 25-10 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
C: Garrett Stutz (Jr)/Graham Blair (Sr)/Ehimen Orukpe (So)
PF: J.T. Durley (Sr)/Aaron Ellis (Sr)/Jerome Hamilton (Fr)
G/F: Graham Hatch (Sr)/Ben Smith (Jr)/Tyler Richardson (Fr)
G: Toure’ Murry (Jr)/Demetric Williams (So)
G: David Kyles (Jr)/Joe Ragland (Jr)
Gone: PG-Clevin Hannah, SG-Kenny Manigualt (transfer-USC-Aiken)
Like many teams in the Missouri Valley Conference last season, the Shockers were a well-balanced team as their top four scorers averaged between nine-twelve points a game while their five leading rebounders pulled down between four-five boards per contest. Expect more of the same this season.
Point guard Clevin Hannah is the only starter lost to graduation and will likely be replaced by either David Kyles or Demetric Williams. Toure’ Murray is the team’s top returning scorer and will be joined on the wing by Graham Hatch who is a solid outside shooter.
J.T. Durley brings his physicality to the frontcourt and will likely be joined by seven-footer Garrett Stutz who took over the starting job from Aaron Ellis late in the season. Ellis will provide some experience off the bench as will Gabe Blair giving the Shockers solid depth up-front. If seven-foot transfer Ehimen Orukpe can contribute right away, that will give head coach Gregg Marshall even more options.
Wichita State was great at home last season posting a 17-1 mark. If they can continue to impose their will in Wichita and improve upon their 5-7 road mark, there is no reason to believe that this team will not be tourney bound come March.
Player to Watch: Garrett Stutz, C
Stutz took over Ellis’ starting job for the final five games of the season. His presence on the floor gives the Shockers five players who can all step out and knock down jump shots since fellow post J.T. Durley is an effective three-pointer shooter. Though not a great shot blocker, his height allows him to alter shots in the paint. He has shown steady progress in his first two seasons and could play a big part in WSU’s success in 2010-11.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/22 vs. UConn (Maui Invitational)
11/23 vs. Michigan State/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma/Washington/Virginia (Maui Invitational)
12/4 at San Diego State
12/18 vs. LSU
12/21 vs. Tulsa
2/18 vs. TBA (ESPN’s Bracket Busters)
Other 99 in 99’s:
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#51 New Mexico
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State