WICHITA, Kan. (WSU release) Wichita State men's basketball head coach Gregg Marshall addressed the media ahead of the team's first official practice on Tuesday. The Shockers' head man discussed how having four hours-per-week in the summer helped his team, his newcomers and what the first practice will be like. The full transcript is below.
HEAD COACH GREGG MARSHALL on…
… this year's team compared to last heading into day-one of practice:
"Well, the new rule about getting four hours (per-week to work with athletes) in the summer has come along at a wonderful time. Having (only) five or six (new guys) is amazing (compared to 9-10 newcomers last year). Being able to do the four hours was beneficial. You might not have seen it in the beginning of the year, but hopefully by the end of the season, you saw some improvement. That doesn't happen unless you get to practice a couple of hours in June or July. We're able to do that again this year."
… his incoming freshman and transfers:
"This group of new players – five freshman and one junior college player – have picked things up very well. Maybe we've taught it slower, a little more thoroughly, but this group has picked things up well. Hopefully with adding their talent and understanding of what we're doing, we won't see as much of a slow start as last year. Last year was the youngest team I've ever had, and one of the youngest in the country. This year's group isn't nearly as young, but still young. We're talking 10 of our 13 players are freshmen or sophomores."
… whether returning players helped newcomers learn the system:
"Absolutely. Last year, we had Markis (McDuffie), and he had never been in a position to be the teacher or leader, but he did a great job of that. That's one of the things I'm most proud of with Markis McDuffie and how he led that young group. There weren't many folks to lean on. This year we have (a group of six guys) that were all in their first year last year who know it. They understand it enough to help the new guys understand things like transition, dead balls, breaking a press. We're way ahead."
… if he feels less stressed going into the season:
"It takes the stress off because you've got guys in there who know how to react to 'live bullets,' if you will. You're out there in a game, and now you know what you're getting with Dexter Dennis or Jaime Echenique. Last year, we just threw them in. They had never experienced Koch Arena. They had never experienced going on the road. They had never experienced college basketball. We have more guys that know what to expect when we get in a competitive situation."
… if he knows where points will come from:
"I think that's a twofold question. I don't know who it will be at this point, but I do know that we have a lot of guys that can score the basketball."
… the freshman class:
"They're a confident group. They're going to have to figure it out. They were still making mistakes early in the summer like (forgetting to get back in transition). Now the other team has the ball, looks up, and has a guy deeper than the deepest defender in transition. They just have to understand that you're not offensive rebounding as a point guard."
... on how the first practice goes:
"We're ahead because of all the work we've been able to do this summer. In the past, you'd have the Friday closest to October 15, and you'd go full (on). You didn't really have them until then. We've got 70 percent of our system in and it's Sept. 24. Now it's a matter of backing off a little bit. We were using one hour, three times a week on practice, then the other hour on individual skill instruction. It was like breakneck speed. Now I can back off, and I've got to be smart because there isn't a lot of time off. I have to make sure they're not (being overworked)."