Shockers look to continue offensive improvements against Alcorn State

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Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Sophomore Tyson Etienne looks to pass during the game against Norfolk State on Dec. 11 inside Charles Koch Arena.

Wichita State will continue their homestand on Tuesday against Alcorn State, after picking a 71-58 victory last Saturday over Norfolk State. 

ASU is in the midst of 16 straight road games while also taking on three of last year’s Final Four teams. WSU is the third American Athletic Conference team to take on the Braves.

“Alcorn State is a very tough team,” head coach Isaac Brown said. “They’re scrappy and they play hard. They won at Milwaukee, and Milwaukee has a kid that is supposed to be a top-20 draft pick in the NBA Draft, and two or three other games, they were right there.

Here’s what head coach Isaac Brown had to say ahead of the matchup with the Braves. 

Building Off Saturday’s Offensive Performance

The Shocker offense had one of its best performances of the season during the game last Saturday against NSU, shooting 45.5% from the field and 31.8% from deep. Brown said he was impressed by the team’s ball movement after being concerned about it before the game.

“In practice, it’s all we worked on: taking care of the basketball, taking good shots, taking fewer dribbles, a lot of movement, a lot of cutting hard, a lot of setting screens for your teammate to get a wide-open shot, and we had 18 assists and eight turnovers,” Brown said. “I thought that was excellent.”

Junior Qua Grant looks to pass during the game against Norfolk State on Dec. 11 inside Charles Koch Arena. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

WSU has struggled with turning the ball over in transition earlier this season, but that wasn’t the case against the Spartans. The Shockers scored nine fast break points, while also collecting 18 assists. WSU tallied a season-low eight turnovers for the game.

“I thought we did a better job in transition, not turning the basketball over,” Brown said. “I thought we did a great job at the free throw line. We just have to continue to have movement on offense, a lot of spacing, and guys need to continue to knock down threes at a high clip.”

Junior forward Morris Udeze has played a key role in making the Shocker offense more efficient over the past four games, with Udeze reaching double figures in each contest. Prior to this four stretch, Udeze had only reached double figures once this season.

“I think the first three or four games, he had four turnovers in the first half, so he’s doing a better job handling other teams, double teams, and digging inside,” Brown said. “He’s making good passes to teammates. He’s going quicker. When he gets the ball inside, he doesn’t wait. He just goes right up and scores a basket, and that’s helping us. When he can score inside, that makes us a better team overall.”

Redshirt Candidates

Two of WSU’s freshmen – Jalen Ricks and Isaac Abidde – have yet to see any action this season, with both having the possibility to redshirt. Ricks will now officially redshirt this season after suffering a torn meniscus in practice and will undergo surgery later this week, missing the rest of the season.

Jalen Ricks and the Shocker bench celebrates after a WSU three during the game against Missouri on Nov. 26 inside Mizzou Arena. (Sean Marty / The Sunflower)

“He’s been in practice every day just watching and cheering on his teammates,” Brown said. “He’s doing well. He’s had a positive attitude. His goal is to get bigger and stronger. He’s a guy that can shoot the basketball. He’s got good size and length. He’s a big guard. He’s only 18 years old, so he’s going to continue to get better.”

Brown hasn’t made a final decision on if Abidde will redshirt but it will most likely come down to the health of the rest of the team. If Abidde ends up redshirting, the Shockers will be down to 10 scholarship players and Steele Gaston-Chapman, the team’s lone walk-on.

“There’s a chance I’ll meet with Isaac really soon, but he’s had a positive attitude in practice,” Brown said. “He comes every day ready to work. He hasn’t been negative one day. He hasn’t played in a game, but every day, he’s been really positive.”

The smaller numbers have impacted the way WSU conducts their practices but Brown said he’s pleased with how players have accepted their roles.

“What we do is, I start those five guys on the scout team, and we go for about 10 minutes, and then we’ll flip it,” Brown said. “I’ll put the starters on the scout team, and those other five guys that normally come off the bench will be Wichita State going up against the scout team. They’ve been positive. We’ve got short numbers. Everybody’s having a good attitude, and things have been going well.”