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A few thoughts from the USVI...

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  • A few thoughts from the USVI...

    We are back from the islands and I thought I'd share a few thoughts and observations. I'm sure many of these are not original, but I haven't had time to sift through the posts made while we were gone.

    Post play: Our big men defended well against (for the most part) much, much larger post players. I'm not sure if the quality of post opponents we'll see in the Valley was on display, but the size certainly was. PT, Durley and Ramon were not afraid to take it in on these guys and showed flashes of some nice interior moves (sure, they got a few swatted, but they didn't back down). Ramon stepped out in the UIC game and made some 12 - 13 foot shots, which was nice to see. We did miss some bunnies which, if made, could have really changed the momentum in games 1 and 2.

    Guard play: I was surprised how much better Baylor's guards were than our guards, but there was a significant difference. Baylor just couldn't miss, but they were getting open looks off high screens and a weave. Early in the game, our bigs weren't digging down off the screens enough to stop the open three. They got confidence and just couldn't miss. Against Monmouth, we couldn't or didn't try to penetrate their match up zone and just couldn't buy an outside shot (of which we took many.) Monmouth was not as bad as some people seem to think. Their zone caused us fits and they hit some contested threes at the end of the shot clock that were just daggers. The guards played much better against UIC. The penetration really opened things up and they made open shots. Wendell played some nice defense in game three, but Lance Harris got more minutes in game one, and looked pretty decent.

    Mantas: I've gotta think this guy is ready to break out, but he really gets down on himself. He played better the third game, but he just really needs to get his confidence up. You can see he has the ability to be a game changer.

    Butler: I've seen references to him playing. He didn't. But it seemed like he is probably pretty close.

    Wintrhop: Their fans were great. A bunch of them are even traveling to watch WSU play App State at ASU. What was most impressive to me was the quality of athlete they put on the floor. I tried to post this from the islands as well, but if the guys GM is bringing in have the level of athleticism he was recruiting at Winthrop, then we are going to see a major step up in that area. (This is not a knock on our current players, just a fact as the type of player that excels in GM's system.) I hadn't appreciated this until I witnessed it in person.

    The fans: A very good representation from the Shocker Nation. There were some times when the group got down (watching us lose to MU in person was a real bummer) but I think the fans really helped keep the players up in game 3. That one was a lot of fun.

    One and two is better than oh and three. And this team, and program, is only going to get better.

    Oh, yeah, I heard a rumor that we may be back in the USVI in four years, which would mean, in the next four years, tournaments at the following:

    08: Orlando (turkey with Mickey and Nick)
    09: Big KC Tournament (good teams)
    10: Hawaii (Never been!)
    11: Back to the USVI (Stay left on the road!)

    Looks like our vacation plans are set!
    Wear your seatbelt.

  • #2
    Thanks for the insight. I was hoping that someone who was actually at the tournament would post their thoughts. Things always seem more bleak than they really are. It's great to see a "bonding" with Winthrop. I hope that continues far into the future of both programs. Was there any rumors about Orukpe?


    • #3
      Not a lot to add from 789's game comments. Just a few "off camera" items...

      During the Baylor game, midway through 2nd half, Marshall confronted PJ on his way to the huddle during a timeout and yelled, "wake up, we need you, show up and play. We have to have you." Immediately after that, PJ stepped up his defense and we made the run to within 4....

      Monmouth game; several players on the way to a timeout were slowly walking to the huddle obviously down about how things were going. Marshall met them near half court and told them to hussle into the huddle, they were wasting time. You will not sulk under this man.

      All three games, Marshall took individual players aside and "loudly" let them know they either weren't in the right spots or didn't do something right. Much teaching was going on. I fealt like I was watching practice several times. It's obvious what he wants is very complicated and will take time to perfect. Watching Winthrop, you could see where we are going.....the Winthrop win over Tech was an absolute gem.

      All these incidents, while they might sound negative; were not and were actually positive. Marshall will not allow this team to sulk, quit or give up. (Much different than what I experienced prior year). Marshall can will this team to win several games we otherwise might not have.

      In addition to the above; Marshall was VERY encouraged when things went well and outwardly praised the folks both on the bench and the court when the right things were done. Very positive and energetic overall attitude.

      Coach's wife was a gem sitting right smack in the middle of the 150+ fans and leading many cheers during the game. She is absolutely great. Somebody asked me the first night, "Is there anyone left in Wichita?" LOL.

      Spent time with many Winthrop fans as well; some who knew coach very well. It's obvious they all love him and want what's best for him even if it means heading to Wichita. Overall, what a great group of people. They stated they were glad that he landed in such a great program with incedible fans if he had to leave them. They cheered for us and we for them all tourney. They are starting to have the "Football/No Football discussion. Small world.

      Watching Marshall interact with his former players from Winthrop, you can see there was a respect and love there that was very deep. Very good to see. We will have that also. The few chances I had to talk to Marshall during the tourney (my first exposure to him) reinforced what many of you have said during his early appearances in Wichita. This man is a charasmatic leader and genuinely warm person despite being pulled in many directions.

      Anyway, some of you have already posted some of this based on what you've seen in Wichita but this was my first exposure to our new coach and I came away with it jumping for joy. It will be a special time for us and Marshall while he's here. Get ready.

      See you folks over the in 'Dub for the Cowboys game..........


      • #4
        Nothing on Orupke to add and I asked numerous folks in the know. Typical response was: shrug, shake head, and say something along the lines of "I don't know, just still waiting on his test score."

        Just a hunch based on these comments and body language, but I'm not sure we'll see him this year. I hope I'm wrong.
        Wear your seatbelt.