Gregg Marshall: “I watch this team at some points and I think, ‘Man, how are we winning any games?’”

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Gregg Marshall: “I watch this team at some points and I think, ‘Man, how are we winning any games?’”

Head Coach Gregg Marshall bends over after a call is made against Wichita State during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall bends over after a call is made against Wichita State during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Joseph Barringhaus

Head Coach Gregg Marshall bends over after a call is made against Wichita State during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Head Coach Gregg Marshall bends over after a call is made against Wichita State during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall watched as his team surrendered a once 17-point second-half lead to Southern Mississippi.

Marshall cringed as Ricky Torres, WSU’s point guard, fired a pass directed at the head of teammate Samajae Haynes-Jones. “He nearly took Samajae’s face off,” Marshall said.

Torres, who two games prior led the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 15-to-1, had six turnovers to match his six assists in the game. The turnovers came with little pressure, revealing just how badly the team is struggling to shake its inexperience.

“I watch this team at some points and I think, ‘Man, how are we winning any games?’” Marshall said.

Ultimately, Southern Mississippi missed three free throws to send the game to overtime, but for the eighth time in 10 games this season, WSU was outscored in the second half. With six wins and four losses, Marshall is still anything but optimistic.

“Obviously we didn’t play well in the second half against Baylor, the second half tonight, the whole game against Oklahoma,” Marshall said, “but we’ve also won some game that could have gone either way.

“It could be a lot worse, man.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis is fouled during their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

At 10 games in, the downtown game held at INTRUST Bank Arena often years serves as a test for Marshall to grade his team. But following a game that felt nothing like a win, Marshall held back on quickly assessing a grade. His hesitation was met the reality that comes with having his most inexperienced rotation in 21 years of coaching.

“We’ve got two players that played 200 minutes or more in their life. Two,” Marshall said. “That’s Samajae (Haynes-Jones) and Markis (McDuffie). Asbjørn (Midtgaard) is our third-most experienced player. He’s probably played 100 minutes or less his whole career.

“It’s what we’ve got.”

“With what we’ve got out there,” Marshall said he would grade the team either a “B- or C+.”

“It’s certainly better than I thought it could have been at some points,” Marshall said.

Haynes-Jones, McDuffie, and junior forward Jaime Echenique scored 45 of WSU’s 63 points.

McDuffie was 5-16 from the field, and Haynes-Jones scored just one point on 0-8 shooting in the second half after leading scorers with 10 first-half points. Marshall called the shots his two seniors took “questionable.”

“When you’re taking shots that are blocked before they even leave your hand, and it’s early or midway through the shot-clock, it’s not a good shot,” Marshall said.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshmen Erik Stevenson focuses before their game against Southern Miss on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.

Freshman Erik Stevenson was 1-9 from the field (1-6 from three) in the game, and the Shockers connected on 2-12 three-pointers in the second half. The team shot merely 62 percent from the free throw stripe in the second half as they allowed Southern Mississippi a 17-3 run. Despite playing most the game without a player taller than 6-foot-6, Southern Mississippi scored 14 points in the paint.

“That’s youth and inexperience,” Marshall said. “That’s why you generally don’t play a lot of freshmen.”

“The advantage to get old and stay old, we’ve been able to do that very well,” Marshall said, “but certainly not this time.”

WSU played four true freshmen against Southern Mississippi. Rod Brown, who backs up McDuffie at the power forward, redshirted last season.

“Generally, freshmen don’t play for us,” Marshall said. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen out there, and we just have to live and die with them. That’s all I can do.”

 

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Morris Udeze dunks the ball during their game on Dec. 15, 2018 at INTRUST Bank Arena.