Newcomers, experimental lineups to be featured in Shockers’ Canada tour

Gregg Marshall has had 10 practices this summer to prepare for a four-game exhibition tour in Canada, beginning Saturday. His quest, preparing his 17-man roster — six who have never played in a Shocker uniform — to learn his offense, test lineups and get new players experience against mid-level opponents.

“The first thing we’ve had to do is teach [new players] how we play,” Marshall, WSU’s head coach, said. “They have the opportunity to hear our terminology, run our system offensively, defensively and in special situations.

“The practices are probably worth just as much as the games we’ll play.”

WSU will go head-to-head against the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) Saturday at noon, Carleton University (Ottawa) Sunday at 2 p.m., McGill University (Montreal) Tuesday at 8 p.m., and the IndiSport All-Stars Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.

Marshall said he plans to get newer players court time. He also plans to incorporate each Shocker making the trip into game-play, if healthy.

“Everyone going on the trip is going to play,” Marshall said. “We’ll play the guys that we’re counting on the most to prepare them for the season — everyone will get a shot.”

As he experiments with lineups in the exhibitions, Marshall hopes to get a better idea as to who will occupy the point guard position. Marshall’s eyes turning to junior college transfer Daishon Smith, who he said is quickly learning the system. Also in the tangle, the sharp-shooter and talented ball-handler, redshirt junior Conner Frankamp. Freshman guard Austin Reeves has been held out of five-on-five practices, limited by a shoulder injury.

Redshirt freshman Landry Shamet, who started one game last season and played in three, is said to be concentrating more on the shooting guard position. Marshall said he sees Shamet favoring the two-guard position, and can play around the three-guard and point guard slots.

Three of WSU’s four opponents on the tour are university teams competing in Canada’s equivalent to the NCAA, Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

The UQAM Citadins, who have not been traditionally strong, are a young team on the rise with new head coach Nate Philippe posting a 19-17 record after receiving a team with just 11 wins in the previous two years combined.

The Carleton Ravens are six-time national champions and have won 12 of the last 14 CIS titles under seven-time national coach of the year, Dave Smart, who has won 94 percent of his games against teams in the league.

The McGill Redmen, located in downtown Montreal, were ranked as high as No. 3 nationally last season and finished seventh in the final poll.

Lastly, the IndiSports All-Stars are made up of a mixture of Canadian Pros, currently playing overseas or in NBL Canada.

The Shockers’ preseason strengths equate to athleticism and length.

“[Those] are improved from last year,” Marshall said. “Hopefully, that will equate to better defense.”

With the final remaining players from WSU’s Final Four team in 2013 now graduated, the Shockers are in the early stages of development.

“We lost some iconic players,” Marshall said. “At this point, we’re just very early in the stages of becoming a good basketball team. They are talented in their own right, they’re just new.”

WSU will focus its attention this weekend on running the system, learning terminology, and executing offensively.

“The staple for us is defense and rebounding, so we’re going to really emphasize stopping the ball, helping the helper, and eliminating opponents to one shot,” Marshall said.

All exhibition games will be broadcasted on KEYN 107.3 FM and available online at