Tag: Chadrack Lufile

Cleanthony Early

Depth carries Shockers to record-setting win

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Bradley attempted to slow down Wichita State tonight. The Braves’ thought-process was that through controlling the tempo, the Shockers might be caught unawares. However, as Gregg Marshall’s squad demonstrated throughout the 2014 season, this is a special group, and Wichita State defeated the Braves, 69-49 (Geno Ford’s team is now 12-18, 7-10 in Missouri Valley play), becoming the first squad in college basketball history to win thirty straight games in the regular season.

There are many interesting subplots surrounding this Wichita State team: the heady play of Fred VanVleet, the precocious shooting of Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early assuming a more complimentary offensive role, and how the Shocker defense physically grinds opponents. However, the narrative that has largely escaped notice is the depth that the Shockers possess this year. Wichita State lost two key scorers from last year’s team — Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall — yet the 2014 team is a more offensively efficient group (1.16 PPP versus 1.07). WSU is much more balanced: four Shockers attempt more than 20 percent of the team’s shots when they are on the floor, and the backcourt of VanVleet and Tekele Cotton are able to carry a team’s scoring when other options like Baker or Early are having an off-game. Even a player like Chadrack Lufile, who barely touched the ball in the halfcourt in 2013, has attempted more than 100 two-point field goals and is making 54.1 percent of his shots. Rewind to last season, and if Early, Armstead or Hall weren’t taking the shot, chances are that possession would be a lost.

This depth was evidenced against the Braves: four Shockers cracked double-digits in scoring, and Lufile and Darius Carter scored 7 and 9 points, respectively.

What has also separated this offense from Marshall’s 2013 team is their ability to easily handle zone defenses. For much of the game, Bradley tried to limit WSU’s effectiveness through a 2-3 zone, but the team still scored more than 1.20 PPP. Ever since Indiana State succeeded in slowing WSU’s offense in ’13, a move that initiated a three-game Shocker slide, most of the Valley has attempted to zone defend the Shockers — 26 percent of their offensive possessions come against a zone — but this group can shoot, a skill that bedeviled last season’s team. The core of VanVleet, Early, and Baker make 35 percent or more of their threes, and the team overall is scoring .98 points per zone possession (as compared to .91 in ’13).

These two small, but crucial, differences explains why Wichita State rang up thirty straight wins, and why there is a chance for a 40-0 team this season (it’s just won’t be Kentucky).

Wichita State’s Lufile hopes to think less, play more

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Coaching is a tricky business. Striking the proper balance between training players’ bodies and minds is crucial, and difficult to quantify.

And, even when focusing just on the mental aspects of the game, there’s still more nuance. Chadrack Lufile found that out recently, when he asked Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall to give him more  material to study; something to help him make a difference in the paint for a team that’s losing Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe from a wildly successful Final Four team.

“This was the first time I went to coach’s office and said, ‘I want to be better. I want to see what I do in practice and what to work on,’” Lufile told the Wichita Eagle. “It’s like being a professional artist, you’re working every day to get that drawing to its best, as detailed as you can. I’m trying to get my game as detailed and polished as I can.”

The 6-foot-9, 250 lb. Lufile should be hungry for more. The juco transfer saw just 19 minutes of floor time in the NCAA tournament last season.

The key, as far as his coaches are concerned, is to turn a pile of book learning and game film studying into instant action. On the court this season, Lufile isn’t going to have time to think.

A year’s experience in WSU’s system helps. His movements on the court are becoming more instinctive and getting to the right place is no longer a thoughtful process. That frees him to concentrate on improving shooting and ball-handling skills.

“I can work on my game more without having to think about the plays,” Lufile said. “I’ve got to finish better. I’m getting better on my moves.”

As always, the coaches want more defense. Lufile, despite good size and speed, didn’t provide much deterrent to scorers last season. He is not a naturally aggressive defender and that needs to change. Defending, rebounding, setting screens are his primary jobs.

The opportunity is definitely there for him. Cleanthony Early will provide a versatile scoring punch inside for the Shockers, and Lufile will share time with Louisiana transfer Kadeem Coleby and behemoth freshman Shaquille Morris on the low block.
Lufile doesn’t have to be a genius in this offense. In fact, the less he thinks this season, the more successful he is likely to be.