Daily Archives: Feb. 14, 2014

Friday musings

* SIU-Edwardsville, Wichita State’s baseball opponent today to kick off the season-opening series at Eck Stadium, has possibly the worst uniforms I’ve ever seen. Sorry I can’t post a picture. Actually, you’re lucky I can’t post a picture. Check later at Kansas.com to see what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say, the pants (or sweats?) don’t match anything.

* I have a brand new iPhone and I’m pretty sure I enjoy the status it reflects. Yes, I’m that guy.

* I do not, however, drive a new car. I have a 2010 model. Remember, I’m a newspaper guy. New cars and “newspaper guy” don’t really mix.

* I did pretty well by my wife for Valentine’s Day, thanks for asking. She’s a lucky woman. Some, I understand, would dispute that assertion.

* I believe that if two people have a dispute, they should iron it out in person. Not via e-mail. Not on some anonymous message board where cowardly people gather to exchange insults. But in person. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

* I would be surprised if Wichita State has much trouble at Evansville on Sunday, although I do really like Purple Aces sophomore guard D.J. Balentine. He’s a player. But Evansville doesn’t have enough to support him. I expect the Shockers to play well.

* Kansas has a gimme at home against TCU. I’ll be curious to see how much playing time freshman guard Conner Frankamp gets in that one after 15 pretty good minutes the other night during the Jayhawks’ overtime loss at Kansas State.

* Kansas State has the toughest game of the state’s big three, a road game at Baylor. It’s a test for the Wildcats after home wins over Texas and KU. K-State can’t afford a letdown in this one and I don’t expect one.

* I’m not watching a lot of the Olympics. Not because I don’t want to; it’s just hard to find time. It’s the result of a busy lifestyle, I suppose, and a lot of other things that take precedent. But I’m hoping to take in some of the Olympics this weekend. I have watched a few hours of the figure skating coverage, which I have enjoyed. But I haven’t yet caught any curling, which disappoints me.

* I’m hoping for a St. Louis, Indianapolis and Dallas run through the NCAA Tournament this season. I prefer driving destinations.

* For Valentine’s Day, my father always gave my mother a box of chocolates. Of course, I dipped in. But I never learned which were the good chocolates and which were the bad. So I’d take a small bit out of one, discover it was nasty – coconut or something – and throw the rest of it away. All these years later, I feel bad about that now. I’m pretty sure my mom liked coconut. She got a really raw deal.

* The college baseball season starts too early. It’s Feb. 14, for crying out loud, and all of these cold people are sitting out here at Eck Stadium watching the Shockers. The weather is certainly better than it was earlier in the week. It’s 47 degrees as I write this but the wind is howling from the north. Not pleasant.

* Richie Incognito is pretty much who and what we thought he was. I really hope we never have to see this clown in the NFL again.

* I think Todd Butler will be an outstanding baseball coach at Wichita State. He has the pedigree and the “it” factor. It will be interesting to follow his recruiting and to see how it differs from the past. Remember, chief recruiter Brent Kemnitz is still on the Shockers’ staff. But already it looks like the Shockers’ recruiting territory is expanding.

* It would be great if a lot of Shocker basketball fans showed up at Side Pockets, 600 S. Tyler near the corner of Kellogg and Tyler, on Sunday for the Shocker Invitational. You know what it is by now, I hope. We’re playing eight quarterfinal games on the big screen via an XBox 360 gaming system, starting at 11. With eight to play – and with a 4 p.m. break to watch the Shockers’ game at Evansville – it’ll be a long day at Side Pockets. But a fun one, too. And remember, it’s $4.99 for a dozen boneless wings. Come on out and spend some time with us.

* American Idol remains one of our favorite shows. My wife and I, I mean. They’ve chosen their top 30 – 15 men and 15 women – and I think the talent is outstanding. I know so many of you think I’m such a geek for liking this competition. Maybe that’s why I like it – to irritate you.

* I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked the third-base coaching box today with the Shockers at the plate, expecting to see Gene Stephenson. Yes, it’s pretty weird that he’s not here. New assistant Brian Walker, by the way, is coaching third base for Todd Butler. Graduate assistant Jon Coyne is coaching first.

* With my new phone, I’ve been downloading a lot of apps. What are some of your favorites? I especially like the free ones.

* Have a great weekend. Shocker fans, enjoy this ride. A Final Four followed by a 26-0 start? Pretty incredible stuff. I think Wichita State will be 34-0 when the Shockers start play as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And 35-0 after an opening-round win. Then it gets more dicey. But more fun, too.



Breaking down Shocker Invitational teams 10-16

In advance of the eight quarterfinal games in the Shocker Invitational, to be played via an XBox 360 gaming system on a big, big screen at Side Pockets on Sunday, it’s time to write about seven of the teams I haven’t gotten to.

I’ve written about the strengths and weaknesses (mostly strengths) of teams 1-9, and today I’ll cover the rest of the seven fictional teams in the fictional tournament that features Shocker players past (mostly) and present (a few).

Team 10

Robert Elmore, center – Elmore was just inducted – at long last – into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame last month, 37 years after his WSU career ended. And what a career it was. Elmore averaged 14.1 points and 12.4 rebounds from 1973-77.

Jamar Howard, power forward – Howard, a Shocker from 2001-05, scored 1,571 points in his career. He averaged 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds as a sophomore and shot 53 percent from the field. He was also a tenacious defender.

Ron Harris, small forward – One of the most underrated Shockers of all-time, Harris averaged 16.9 points during his three seasons, as well as eight rebounds. He could score.

Ron Mendell, shooting guard – The 6-foot Mendell averaged 15.3 points as a senior in 1968-69 and was an 82 percent free-throw shooter during his career.

Jimmy Bolden, point guard – Played one season for WSU, in 1992-93 for Scott Thompson, and averaged 13.4 points.

Team 10 analysis – A great rebounder and shot-blocker in Elmore and plenty of scoring. This team has a chance to win a game or two. But size drops off after the 6-foot-10 Elmore.

Team 11

Claudius Johnson, center – Johnson was a good player on some sub-par Shocker teams during the early 1990s. He averaged 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds for his career and was a 54.3 percent shooter.

Kyle Wilson, power forward – The 6-8 Wilson was versatile, able to score and defense inside and out. He averaged 11.3 points and almost six rebounds per game as a senior in 2005-06 as a key part of the Shockers’ Sweet 16 team.

John Cooper, small forward – Cooper’s senior season was cut short by a leg injury, but he still scored 1,153 points and averaged 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Maurice Evans, shooting guard – Evans was destined to be one of the all-time Shocker greats, but his career was cut short after two seasons because of tension with Randy Smithson, then WSU’s coach. Evans averaged 22.6 points per game as a sophomore in 1998-99.

Clevin Hannah, point guard – A former junior college player in Florida, Hannah averaged 11.6 points and nearly five assists per game during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Team 11 analysis – This team lacks size, but it’s one of the most athletic in the field and Hannah and Evans are an interesting backcourt.

Team 12

Terry Benton, center - From Wichita East, Benton averaged 13.2 points and 12.7 rebounds for his career. He had a spectacular season in 1970-71, averaging 16.3 points and 16.8 rebounds.

Steve Grayer, power forward – The 6-8 Grayer averaged 10.2 points and 4.6 rebounds during his career, playing mostly for Eddie Fogler. His best season was as a senior in 1988-89, when he averaged 14 points and five rebounds. He shot 53.2 percent for his career.

Jamie Thompson, small forward – One of the finest mid-range shooters in WSU history, Thompson averaged 17.6 points for his career to go with 6.7 rebounds. His best season was in 1965-66, a year after he helped the Shockers to the Final Four, when he averaged 22 points and 8.3 rebounds.

Aubrey Sherrod, shooting guard – Another great shooter, Sherrod scored 1,765 career points, mostly without a three-point line. He would have threatened 2,000 points with one.

Paul Scheer, point guard – Scheer is the oldest player in the Shocker Invitational field, having played for Ralph Miller from 1951-54. He averaged 11.9 points and was regarded as an excellent ball handler.

Team 12 analysis – Wow, this is a good team. Sherrod and Thompson are deadeye shooters and Benton is an outstanding center. Grayer and Scheer are solid, too. Good chance to win it all.

Team 13

Ozell Jones, center – Jones was on the 1980-81 Elite Eight team, though he was declared ineligible by the NCAA before the tournament. He averaged 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds that season and went on to play some in the NBA.

Cheese Johnson, power forward – One of the Shockers’ all-time greats, Lynbert Johnson averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds during his career from 1975-79. Also one of the Shockers’ most colorful players and fan favorites.

P.J. Couisnard, small forward – Averaged 13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2007-08, playing for Gregg Marshall. Was a key part of the Shockers’ Sweet 16 team in 2005-06.

Randy Burns, shooting guard – Scored 1,599 points during his four seasons, including 15.1 points as a sophomore in 2002-03.

Joe Ragland, point guard - Ragland’s two seasons at WSU – from 2010 through 2012 – were good ones. He averaged 13.4 points and shot 57 percent from the field in 2011-12. He also made 59 of his 117 three-point attempts with one of the best seasons ever by a Shocker guard.

Team 13 analysis – Tough team, although Jones is an X-factor at the center position. The other four starters are outstanding. Could be a serious threat to win it all.

Team 14

Troy Mack, center – Mack had a 22-rebound game against Kansas State as a senior in 2001-02, when he averaged 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.

J.T. Durley, power forward – After a slow start to his career, Durley came alive under Marshall. He averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds during his junior and senior seasons.

Vince Smith, small forward – The 6-5 Smith was an offensive standout who averaged 15.1 points and shot 48 percent during his three-year career.

Joe Stevens, shooting guard – Stevens, from Wichita North, was inducted into the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame this year. As a Shocker from 1955-58, he averaged 16.6 points and was an 81 percent free-throw shooter.

Calvin Bruton, point guard – One of the finest point guards in WSU history, Bruton averaged 11.6 points and four assists per game during his four-year career from 1972-76.

Team 14 analysis – Probably a candidate to be eliminated early despite a really strong backcourt and an unsung player in Smith. It’ll depend on how Mack and Durley perform.

Team 15

Gene Wiley, center – Wiley played several seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers after averaging 9.9 points and 10.1 rebounds during three seasons as a Shocker in the early 1960s. He’s one of the best shot blockers in WSU history.

Cleanthony Early, power forward – Current Shocker Early is an outstanding offensive player who is on the verge of becoming the first player during the Marshall era to averaged more than 15 points per game.

Darrin Williams, small forward – Williams, out of Wichita South, averaged 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds during his career from 1996-2000.

Sean Ogirri, shooting guard – No doubt about it, Ogirri could shoot. But he was streaky. He averaged 12 points and shot nearly 43 percent from the three-point line for WSU’s Sweet 16 team in 2005-06.

Preston Carrington, point guard – Carrington was a world-class longer jumper and an outstanding decathlete from Topeka. He was a good basketball player, too, who averaged 10.4 points for the Shockers in 1970-71 after averaging 12.2 points the previous season.

Team 15 analysis – Wiley will make it difficult for opposing teams to score inside. The rest will depend on how much offense Early and Ogirri, especially, can generate.

Team 16

Bob Hodgson, center – An outstanding player for Ralph Miller during the mid-1950s, Hodgson averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds as a senior in 1955-56.

Gus Santos, power forward – Santos averaged 15 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior in 1985-86 and was a career 48.7 percent shooter.

Ray Shirley, small forward – A great athlete, Shirley averaged 10 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Shockers from 1976-80.

Tekele Cotton, shooting guard – Cotton is a defensive specialist for the current Shockers who has become a much more viable scoring threat as his career has continued.

Ernie Moore, point guard – Moore is probably the most accomplished point guard in WSU history. Out of Sumner High in Kansas City, Kansas, he averaged 13.2 points from 1960-64, when assists were not compiled.

Team 16 analysis – This is an interesting collection and one of the best defensive teams in the field. How much will that matter? We’ll see starting Sunday. Remember, we start at 11 and will break for the WSU-Evansville game at 4. Also, it’s wings day at Side Pockets, with a great deal on the boneless variety. Hope to see you there.