Prior to its NCAA tournament loss to Kentucky, there were a couple close calls during the regular season for a Wichita State team that finished the year with a 35-1 record. One of those came on January 11, as the Shockers were taken to overtime by Paul Lusk’s Missouri State Bears. The Bears, who would finish the season with a 20-13 record, lost that game 72-69 in overtime but just as big as the result was a key personnel loss.
Guard Marcus Marshall, who scored 15 points and played nearly 40 minutes in that close defeat, would not play again in 2013-14 as a result of a right knee injury suffered late in regulation. Gone from the rotation was a player averaging 14.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest, and as a result Missouri State struggled to maintain some semblance of consistency for the remainder of the year (8-9 record).
Now working to get back to full strength, Marshall discussed his renewed appreciation for the game in a story written by Lyndal Scranton of the Springfield News-Leader.
“It was a humbling experience,” Marshall said of the first serious injury of his basketball career. “I talked to [assistant] coach [Jermaine] Henderson maybe the third game after I was hurt, and it’s like he made me realize, ‘You never can take things for granted. You never know what’s going to happen.’
“You have to be grateful every time you step on that floor and lace up your shoes, man. You never know. It could be your last game. It could be your last game of the season like it was for me. It makes you appreciate what you have.”
Marshall’s progression is an important storyline this offseason for Missouri State, which has to account for the loss of leading scorer Jamar Gulley (14.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Gulley and Marshall were Missouri State’s lone double-digit scorers last season, meaning that more will be asked of returning options such as guards Austin Ruder and Dorrian Williams and forward Christian Kirk.
Missouri State has five newcomers joining the program, with two being junior college transfers. But it will be Marshall who is asked to lead the way for the Bears in 2014-15. While working towards getting back to full strength physically, he’s also looking to take another step forward as a leader this summer.