Freshmen showcased in 91-57 exhibition win

Evan Pflugradt

Wichita State ousted Hawaii Pacific in their first exhibition game Friday. The Shockers, ranked 10th in the nation by the Associated Press, beat the Sharks 91-57. 

While this exhibition game is near meaningless, it stands to gain experience for the eight new Shockers to take the floor this season. Cleveland State transfer Anton Grady showcased his experience in the low-post, scoring 13 points in just 10 minutes of play. 

Grady was confident in his abilities on offense as a low-post scorer, and attracted a lot of foul calls. In his 10 minutes of playing time, Grady was sent to the free throw line for 10 shots. He was 7-10 from the stripe. 

The Shockers played without starting senior Fred VanVleet, who sat out the exhibition game with an injured hamstring. The loss of VanVleet led to hefty minutes for freshman guard Landry Shamet, who led all Shockers in minutes with 24. 

Shamet stepped into the shooting guard position sending senior Ron Baker to control the point.

“Baker has been the point guard when Fred is out,” said head coach Gregg Marshall. “He’s done it in situations for three years now.” 

The backcourt of Baker and Shamet filled the stat sheet, combining for 21 points and six assists. Shamet settled in; the freshman showcased his athleticism, fighting for loose balls, and he came up with four rebounds to add to his 10 points and two assists. He admitted that playing in the spotlight of a crowd of more than 11,000 was a bit intense.

“I was nervous at first,” Shamet said. “I compared it to the first day of school. I couldn’t sleep all night last night.”

Marshall admitted to offensive struggles in the backcourt without VanVleet. 

“When we have Fred VanVleet on the sideline, we aren’t going to be as good,” Marshall said. 

The lack of backcourt depth challenged the Shockers with extra minutes from Shamet and Ty Taylor II. While Shamet isn’t a true point guard, Taylor considers himself better at filling the backup role.

“Ty is a scoring guard,” Marshall said. “I’m trying to make him a point guard.” 

Both freshmen are expected to earn time playing behind VanVleet until sophomore guard and University of Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp becomes eligible in December. 

VanVleet sat out practices this week, only participating in limited shooting drills. VanVleet is expected to return for the Shockers’ first official game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday against Charleston Southern in Charles Koch Arena. 

“If we handle this the right way, [VanVleet] will start easing his way back in this week and will start [on Friday],” Marshall said. 

The Shockers played 15 players in the exhibition, sidelining Peyton Allen (transfer redshirt), Conner Frankamp (eligibility), Fred VanVleet (hamstring) and Rauno Nurger. 

With the depth in forwards the Shockers have this season, Nurger has stated interest in redshirting this season. First-year players are allowed to play exhibitions without burning their redshirt eligibility. Freshman Brett Barney is also suspected as a potential redshirt candidate for the Shockers this season.