‘We’re winning ugly:’ Wichita State looks to fix offensive struggles against UT-Martin


Morgan Anderson

Head Coach Gregg Marshall responds to questions during the press conference after the game against Omaha on Nov. 6.

Head Coach Gregg Marshall knows his team isn’t playing to the best of their abilities. He knows his shooters aren’t shooting the best they can. All around, WSU can be better.

But through two games, the Shockers are surviving — in a good way.

“We’re winning ugly by not turning it over, not shooting it very well, but on the defensive and rebounding end, we are doing very well,” Marshall said at a press conference Tuesday. “Now defense is ahead of offense, that’s the norm.”

Marshall said this year’s team reminds him of past Wichita State teams that were nationally ranked. The Shockers aren’t in the top-25 this season, but they’re No. 34 in the nation on defense, according to KenPom. On top of the defensive effort, Marshall is also high on his team’s ability to take care of the ball early in the year.

The freshman backcourt of Grant Sherfield and Tyson Etienne have combined for just six turnovers through the first two contests. Overall, WSU ranks No. 5 in the country in turnover percentage, 10.3%, and is averaging just 7.5 per game in comparison to their 10.5 assists per game.

Marshall also discussed his team’s confidence. Although he said he’s impressed with the confidence his team plays with, Marshall still wants his team to play smart.

“Confidence is the least of their worries,” Marshall said. “They have to understand by watching and learning that now they’re playing Division-I college basketball — and that’s hard. We’re going to try to instill confidence in them, but also let them know it’s going to be harder now.

“Five guys can be better than one running an offense that doesn’t care who gets the shot, but if we got a good shot as a group.”

One player Marshall said he hopes can play smarter down the stretch is sophomore Erik Stevenson, who is coming off of a career-high 22 point performance against Texas Southern.

“Some of them kind of struggle with it at times (confidence). Then others like Erik Stevenson – I don’t think he’s lost confidence,” Marshall said. “He takes sometimes questionable shots. You have to be confident to do that because he knows if it doesn’t go in, he’s probably going to get a weird look during the game, or some commentary during video.”

Even on his career day, Stevenson still only shot 1-7 from three-point range and just 33% from the field against the Tigers. His nine free throws helped bolster his scoring total in the second half.

Looking ahead to the contest this weekend against Tennessee-Martin, Marshalhis team can be more efficient on offense.

“We took some bad shots,” Marshall said. “We are better shooters than what we shot, obviously. If we aren’t, then we’re in for a long year.”

Tip-off against the Skyhawks is set for 2 p.m. Saturday inside Charles Koch Arena. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Shockers an 87% chance of winning. KenPom predicts a 20-point win for WSU.