Unselfish play key for fourth straight MVC title


Brian Hayes

Wichita State forward Zach Brown leaps for a pass to Austin Reeves in the corner against Loyola. Wichita State beat out Loyola 87 – 75 in Koch Arena in January.

Wichita State scores 81 points per game to cruise through a 21-4 record and move into a tie for first in the Missouri Valley Conference.

There is one aspect on the court, however, that is overlooked by the statistics: unselfish play.

“They’re definitely unselfish,” head coach Gregg Marshall said. “There are times when we should shoot the ball instead of pass it. I think sometimes we pass up really good shots for really good shooters…Generally that’s a positive. They don’t care who scores. They just want to win the game.”

The Shockers dish out 17.2 assists per game, compared to 10.8 assists by their opponents. The team has dished out 20 or more assists as a team eight times this season, resulting in eight blowout victories.

“It’s in practice every day: we learn to move the ball when we run our plays, and just play together,” sophomore forward Markis McDuffie said. “We have a lot of guys who can score. Everybody has to eat and go get theirs, and if we play as a team and do that, we should be fine.”

Freshman guard Austin Reaves said the team’s ability to share the ball and wanting other teammates to score was something that drew his attention even more to play for Wichita State.

“You see it everyday in practice, people not being selfish, making the extra pass,” Reaves said. “Even after that, if they’re open, making a better pass to get an even more open shot. That’s something I’d seen even last year on the team [as a recruit], and that’s something that made me want to come here even more.”

Unselfishness is not just something taught by enforcing multiple passes; the Shockers genuinely enjoy seeing their teammates score, break their own records, and have success on the court. When the Shockers have lost, one of the reasons was due to their lack of sharing the ball.

In WSU’s four losses, they have dished out only 10.5 assists as a team.

“[Playing with an unselfish team] is fun,” McDuffie said. “It’s great basketball. You always want to see guys on the same page and everyone just doing their thing. That’s what we love to see, it just boosts our confidence.”

The Shockers’ unselfish attitude is not only on the court, but the players carry it over off the court as well. Even when one player has a standout game, whether it be leading scorer or breaking personal records, the players relay the credit onto their teammates and coaches instead of taking the credit for themselves.

That was also seen in the dominating effort on Saturday night against Illinois State. The Shockers dished out 17 assists to shoot 56 percent, with a career-high 18 points coming from junior Conner Frankamp.

Frankamp shot most of his 10 attempts from the floor off catch and shoot, often finding the open looks at the rim.

“[About his 18 points] I’m just taking the open shot when it’s there, and my teammates are doing a great job of finding me when I am open. So a lot of the credit has to go to them,” Frankamp said.

WSU will look to continue its path of team play, facing Missouri State at 8 p.m. Thursday at Charles Koch Arena.