Monthly Archives: March 2008

WSU moves to No. 12

WSU’s 6-0 week was good enough to move up four spots to No 12 in the Baseball America poll .

  • Arizona dropped from No. 6 to No. 18 after losing four of five last week, including two to the “orange-clad no-goodniks” of Oklahoma State (as a former beat writer labeled the Cowboys during the heated days of that rivalry).
  • Texas dropped two of three to Nebraska at home and fell from No. 13 to No. 16.
  • Rice lost three of four last week and fell three spots to No. 15. Southern Miss won two at Rice.
  • San Diego lost two of three to Santa Clara to fall three spots to No. 17.
  • No. 15 Ole Miss, No. 2 in the nation not too long ago, fell out of the poll after losing six of nine. One of those losses was to future WSU opponent Central Arkansas. The Rebels are 6-8 since losing two of three at home to TCU early last month.
  • TCU, however, is not helping WSU’s strength of schedule as much as it could. The Horned Frogs lost two 7-6 games at UNLV over the weekend and are 2-4 in the Mountain West.

In other (The Eagle uses Baseball America to avoid confusion and be consistent) polls, WSU is No. 8 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. That’s a great spot for the Shockers. As everybody knows, it will mean a lot more if they maintain that neighborhood over the next two weeks.

Gal’s departure

WSU guard Gal Mekel is back in his home country of Israel and will play for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Why was he here? It seemed a strange match from the start and it never really paid off.

Go back to the summer of 2007, when WSU is coming off a Sweet 16 spot and the No. 1 priority is replacing center Paul Miller. WSU’s final recruit that summer was Mekel, landed in part by new assistant coach Scott Spinelli’s international connections. The roster is loaded with guards – Braeuer, Ogirri, Bradley, Preadom, Couisnard. Read More »

Point guard Joey Parker

WSU, in its far-ranging search for backcourt help, is looking at Southwestern Illinois College sophomore Joey Parker. Coach Jay Harrington says no visit has been set, and he believes the Shockers are choosing from among three guards. Where Parker fits, he is not sure. Read More »

WSU moves up to No. 16

The Shockers are No. 16, up four spots, in the Baseball America poll. They should continue to climb as long as they don’t trip up against Binghamton or North Dakota State this week. Then things get considerably tougher with Kansas, ORU and Missouri State to follow.

North Dakota State may not be a pushover. The Bison lost two close games at Kansas and defeated Evansville and Minnesota. WSU added a fourth game to that weekend series to replace last week’s ORU game. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday.

WSU 6, ISU 4

The Shockers survive bullpen problems to sweep the doubleheader. Cody Lassley drove in three runs with a double. Tyler Hill drove in another with a double. Aaron Shafer shut out the Redbirds for six innings with nine strikeouts. The finale is at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

WSU 12, Illinois State 1

The Shockers run-rule the Redbirds in the first game of the DH. Tyler Weber homered and doubled to drive in three runs. Kenny Williams tripled twice. Rob Musgrave pitched all seven innings and struck out eight. He walked one and allowed three hits.

Drake out, WSU recruits, South Carolina search

The postseason looks like a fitting end to the MVC season. The Valley was good this year, but not great. The talent (and experience) drain from 2006 and 2007 has not been replenished. Drake, which got a tough draw against a good Western Kentucky team, was a great story and a very good team. I don’t think the Bulldogs were as good as recent MVC champions, and certainly the conference was not as deep as in past seasons. The results are better in the NIT, which seems about right for the 2007-08 season. SIU’s victory over Oklahoma State, which defeated Texas A&M, Kansas and Baylor as part of five-game winning streak in mid-February, stands out because the Salukis played without guard Bryan Mullins.

Drake’s loss looks bad for the MVC, but I don’t think there is much shame in it. The Hilltoppers are a conference champion from a conference similar to the Valley. It’s a traditionally good program with a NBA-type player in Courtney Lee.

  • Drake’s loss means the MVC goes winless in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since SIU and Northern Iowa whiffed in 2004. The MVC champ – SIU (2007), WSU (2006), SIU (2005) – had won at least one game the past three tournaments.

It appears the South Carolina job search will move on without Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. That could change if the Gamecocks run through several candidates. Media reports in South Carolina are focused on Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and at least two season wraps (here and here) make a point to mention Marshall as an unlikely candidate.

Stay tuned, because coaching searches can take dramatic twists. It appears, however, WSU fans can relax.

Anybody who watched the region and national juco tournaments knows Marshall and his staff are full-speed recruiting for next season. Itawamba guard Anthony Brock said he will visit WSU this spring.

I watched Brock on Thursday in a 75-73 loss to Indian Hills. He did not play well. He forced shots and did not play particularly hard. With only look, I won’t make a call on Brock’s ability to help WSU. We know the Shockers need point guards and his credentials look good. After watching four games over two days in Hutch, my biggest impression is that the talent level is down from 10-15 years ago. Prep schools have altered the landscape.

As Creighton proved with Woodfox and Witter, schools can find good juco players. A backcourt with Chipola’s Clevin Hannah and Brock would be quick and good with the ball. I would think WSU would be an improved pressing team with them and difficult to press. If you watched Winthrop this season, think of point guard Chris Gaynor.

WSU signee Garrett Stutz is a two-sport athlete. The way the Marshall family gets involved with recruits, Stutz may have a gallery following him hole to hole.

No baseball today

The field in rainy Normal is too soft to play today. They will try for a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.

This is a story to be continued. It is a great day in Normal – sunny and 58 at 4:45 as I write this. WSU players say the field was in reasonable shape. They wanted to play.

I went to Duffy Bass Field around 5 p.m. expecting to find a field that looked like a back lot on the set of Titanic. Instead, it looked good. I walked all over the outfield and could not find a puddle. It was damp. A little muddy. In all, however, the shape of the field is a credit to the Illinois State grounds crew. It looked suitable for baseball.

Illinois State coach Jim Brownlee thought otherwise. It is the decision of the home team until the game starts, at which point the decision passes to the umpires.

The forecast for tomorrow is good. Snow on Sunday. Not playing today was a risk.

Women’s basketball search

Wichita State athletic director Jim Schaus is big on secrecy during job searches. A few names are bouncing around, although none that I am ready to list at this point. Efforts continue. Here is what I can offer:

  • Two Big 12 assistants, according to one source,  talked to Schaus earlier this week about the position.
  • Jim’s most recent history is to hire head coaches from NCAA Division I schools at less-prominent or smaller schools – Gregg Marshall from Winthrop, Mike Perniciaro from Northwestern State and Tom McCurdy from Northern Arizona. One name fits that profile.
  • Schaus has made a good impression on the people he has talked to. They believe he wants to win. Coaches also believe WSU is a good situation and the MVC is weak enough that the right coach can make strides quickly.
  • Coaches I talked (or texted) with were surprised things didn’t work out with Oklahoma State associate head coach Jim Littell. “I thought it was a done deal” was the phrase often thrown about.

Turn right at Yoder, left at the airport

I spent last night at the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson. I’ve been to the Sports Arenas numerous times for different tournaments. Somehow, I manage to get lost at least once, coming or going. Many Shocker fans made the trip to watch recruit Clevin Hannah play for Chipola (Fla.) College. Seward won an entertaining game 90-84 in overtime.

Hannah, who scored 10 points and made a three to send the game into OT, played pretty much as billed. He played more two guard than I expected. I don’t think that is the plan at WSU. Hannah appears to be what we were told – an unselfish, pass-first player who is also a good shooter. He is small, and that will be a problem against defenders such as SIU’s Bryan Mullins. He needs to remove that hesitation move where he palms the ball from his repertoire. As Gal Mekel can attest, NCAA refs will call it. It is mildly bothersome that he picked up the ball after the buzzer and heaved it into the stands at the opposite end of the court. Did he lose his cool or is he a competitor crushed by the result? We can’t tell at this point.

After one viewing, it appears Hannah is what WSU needs. He doesn’t make mistakes. He is a good passer who can do some things one-on-one at the end of a shot clock. He got a couple chances to run the break and looked fine. He played hard. He can shoot. I don’t think he will wow people with his speed or athletic ability, but he seems to be a player who can run an offense with few mistakes, get shooters shots and score if needed.

He did not play much in the final eight minutes or so, which probably concerned the WSU fans in attendance. Chipola is deep and it appears coach Greg Heiar went with more athletic players in the backcourt. I’m not sure it was the right choice – Hannah seems to be the perfect guy to run the offense when you can’t afford a mistake – but Chipola is 32-2 so Heiar has pushed the right buttons this season.

Seward was well aware of Hannah’s shooting. Every time he was on the floor, their coaches yelled “Shooter, shooter.” Hannah made a long, arching three early in the game and another one to send it into OT. He made a nice play late in the first half when he dribbled into the lane after a turnover and made a perfect bounces pass to a teammate for a dunk. His teammates like that unselfish part of his game.

In the second half, he tried to go to the basket and got stripped. He will need to get stronger to make that move in the MVC. Midway through the second half, he drove to the hoop, getting by a defender with his hesitation move, and got an and-one out of it. He threw up an airball soon after and that was about the time he came out until the final minute or so.

WSU coaches Gregg Marshall, Chris Jans and Marty Gross were there. They talked with Hannah after, as did Marshall’s wife and children. I think the Shocker coaches were there all day. I am sure they will be back today. Guard Anthony Brock plays at 1 p.m. for Itawamba (Miss.) and he is a guy WSU is interested in.

As always, Hutch is a big coaching convention. I didn’t see many head coaches other than Bob Huggins and Kevin McKenna. Tons of assistants from all levels watched.