WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- Only five weeks away from the start of the 2018-19 Shocker Basketball season, and the first practice is in the books.
However, it may have left more questions than answers with new blood representing 77 percent of Gregg Marshall's team.
The coaching staff is now allowed to work with the student athletes for 20 hours per week, including four hours per day for the rest of the season. Until this point, they could only have one hour practices four times per week. Marshall said they really couldn't get a feel for the guys in that limited time.
"We're a little ahead of where we would be," he said. "Normally, we'd be just putting in our stuff. But the lack of experience shows that we're not quite where we need to be, even with the additional time. So it's just a lot of teaching."
Luckily for Marshall and his staff, he can fall back on the veteran presence of four-year starter Markis McDuffie.
"Well we need him to be the Markis MDuffie of old," he said. "You know, he was our leading scorer and leading rebounder two years ago. And then last year, 11 games sitting out and coming back in the middle of the season, it didn't help him and it didn't help us. Ultimately he's a talented kid. He's a wonderful young man and we're just excited he has an opportunity now to shine in his senior year and get back on those draft boards."
The other senior is Wichita East grad and former Hutch Blue Dragon Samajae Haynes-Jones. The guard also missed a lot of time last season due to illness and injury, but Marshall says he's back and better than ever.
"He's very confident right now. He's shooting the ball well and he's getting buckets out here. He's really looking like the player that we thought we had originally. He's quick, he's fast, he's shooting it with confidence."
The team also brings back sophomore Asbjorn Midtgaard to the center position. However, he's still a work in progress after coming from Denmark with no basketball experience last year.
The rest of the team is made up of of seven true freshman, a red-shirt freshman, two junior college transfers, and a handful of walk-on players. Marshall said with all of the fresh talent, he's now able to get back to truly coaching and molding players.
"It's rejuvenated the staff and it's given us an opportunity to really teach and really coach. The best thing is that they're really coachable. They're super young people so they want to get better, they want to please."
But it's also going to take time to get this group up to speed. He anticipates a learning curve and sees his team experiencing a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Cautious optimism is the theme heading into the Shocker season.
"Learning how to play in our system and learning how to compete in college basketball. One of our main struggles right now is just not doing crazy things on the offensive end."