How Wichita State’s experience might play out next season

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How Wichita State’s experience might play out next season

Wichita State freshman Erik Stevenson dunks during the second half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State freshman Erik Stevenson dunks during the second half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Erik Stevenson dunks during the second half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Erik Stevenson dunks during the second half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

NEW YORK CITY- The season is over.

Wichita State fell to Lipscomb on Tuesday in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals 71-64.

Though it may not feel like it, Markis McDuffie doesn’t have another season of eligibility. Samajae Haynes-Jones will graduate, too. Next year, two seniors will be on the pedestal again. This time it’ll be Jaime Echenique and Ricky Torres, both junior college transfers. It’ll be one of the first seasons in a while that Wichita State won’t have a four-year senior. All things considered, even with his senior point guard and leading scorer both departing, Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall sees only a bright future for the program ahead.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Jamarius Burton lets a floater go during the second half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

“This is a year where we could have taken a big dip — I mean, a big dip,” Marshall said. “We didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, but the last eight, nine weeks, playing the likes of Cincinnati twice, and at Clemson and at Indiana, others, we went 14 out of the last 18, and we’re in Madison Square Garden playing in April.

“All I can do is be thankful that I’ve got these guys as soldiers,” Marshall said.

Haynes-Jones, a departing senior, said he recognizes the transition of a group of six freshmen and some junior college transfers. He said watching their growth helped elevate his play and inspire the rest of the team to play with energy.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Ricky Torres goes up for a basket and is fouled during the first half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

“They got a taste of the college experience, and now they’re going to take it and run with it,” Haynes-Jones said. “Erik (Stevenson) became a knock-down shooter. Jamarius (Burton) turned himself into more of a point guard, and he’s going to get better in that role. Dexter (Dennis) stepped up big time and will continue to do so.

“They built their games and changed it for us,” Haynes-Jones said.

Dennis finished the year averaging eight points and five rebounds per game. When McDuffie wasn’t having his strongest offensive games, Dennis was. He exploded for 17 points, six rebounds and four rebounds to seal victory at Indiana in the NIT.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Ricky Torres looks for a pass during the first half of the game against Lipscomb on April 2, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Burton didn’t start in the point guard role. His transformation was unprecedented, as he rose to the top of Wichita State’s freshman assists leaderboard. He jumped Joe Griffin’s 125 assists with 126.

“We know what to expect now,” Dennis said. “We’re not young anymore.”

— Evan Pflugradt contributed to this report.