Gregg Marshall excels in growing leaders
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Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall started his season facing the dilemma of replacing four and five-year seniors.
His roster was full of guys who were just beginning the college careers.
“Opportunities for them to grow individually, and if they get better individually then we improve collectively,” he said.
Rising stars like junior transfers Daishon Smith and Darral Willis, Jr. grew into leaders. Freshman guard Austin Reaves wowed, and Landry Shamet, a redshirt freshman, stepped into the point guard and became the Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year.
Everywhere Marshall looked, he seemed to have an answer. He routinely played 12 men before the first half of a game expired.
“I think it’s a handful of guys that are taking on leadership roles in one way or another, whether it be by example or verbally,” Marshall said.
Still, he looked for a true leader to emerge. He looked to Conner Frankamp, who had been a success in flashes, was a thought he pondered day in and day out.
“I don’t want him to be a risk-taker, but he has to be able to play with the confidence that we have in him,” Marshall said. “It’s a fine line, but I think he is getting better with that.”
He emerged with an uncharacteristic high school — one many hadn’t seen since Frankamp’s high school days. Frankamp jumped into the Shockers’ leading scorer. In March, he was named the MVC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I hope that we haven’t hit our our peak,” Marshall said heading into the Shockers’ sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament. “I know that we can play better.”
He’s since flown into March with a 15-game win record. He’s lost just one of his last 22 games.
In a season, he’s figured out every question. He’s in the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed. He assures everyone he meets that his team is “really good,” and that they “are coachable and they care.”
Friday, Marshall meets Dayton’s Archie Miller in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.