In the aftermath of their run to the 2013 Final Four, many wondered what Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers would do for an encore. While they lost guard Malcolm Armstead from last season’s group many of the other key contributors returned, and to this point in the season those returnees have strung together 21 consecutive victories with their 78-61 win at Drake being the most recent.
Cleanthony Early led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds and as a team the Shockers shot 52.7% from the field, their best offensive performance since shooting 60% in a win over Southern Illinois in their Missouri Valley opener. Why were they able to shoot so well? The Shockers attacked the paint, scoring 32 of their 78 points in the painted area while also shooting 13-for-15 from the foul line.
Wichita State won comfortably in spite of a quiet night from point guard Fred Van Vleet, who shot 2-for-6 from the field and scored nine points to go along with five assists. However given the number of options at Marshall’s disposal, not to mention a stingy defense that ranks among the nation’s best, Wichita State can endure a quiet night from one of its best players. Wichita State scored 24 points off of 13 Drake turnovers, and when they’re allowed to convert those opportunities at that rate it’s incredibly difficult to beat the Shockers.
For some the news that Wichita State keeps on winning won’t move the meter, with the “reason” being that their conference isn’t as widely acclaimed as some other leagues that receive incredible amounts of attention. But to immediately dismiss Wichita State for that reason would be a mistake, as the Shockers are undoubtedly worthy of their lofty ranking.
Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.
“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”
The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.
What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.
The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.
Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.
Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.
Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.