WSU coach Gregg Marshall spoke Tuesday before practice. He seemed amused by talk of winning four games in four days (not my question). I think the Shockers will be content with one win and thrilled with two. The coaches will start recruiting as soon as the season-ending buzzer sounds, whenever that may be. Assistant Earl Grant was gone much of last week recruiting. Marshall skipped Monday’s light workout to recruit in Texas.
Highlights from Tuesday:
- Graham Hatch practiced Tuesday, his first full workout since he partially ruptured the plantar fascia on his left foot. He says he can play this weekend. I would not expect him to be used a lot, but every healthy body helps. Phil Thomasson did not practice but he is walking around in practice gear. Marshall said he is feeling better but still a way away from playing.
- Marshall busted me for a mistake in Saturday’s story before the Drake game. Ramon Clemente committed to the former coaching staff, but did not sign until the new staff took over. I botched the time-line, which is a sensitive subject for Marshall. He had to do a lot of re-recruiting and recruiting last spring, one of the many factors leading to this season’s struggles. My fault. Some coaches let that stuff fester and sit in the craw until it all comes out. Marshall lets you know immediately, which I think is a better way. When part of your job is to point out mistakes, you need to be able to wear it when you screw up. A correction is forthcoming.
When you wake up a napping cat, the cat looks and evaluates two things: 1) is this creature food? and 2) is this creature a threat? Coaches are the same way when they read a newspaper article: 1) Can this help me win? and 2) Can this help me recruit? When I was young and foolish, I was flattered when coaches said they read an article. Now that I am old and marginally less foolish, I think coaches should never read articles about their team. No good can come of it, and their time is better spent on other issues. That brings me to:
- Marshall also objected to a reference about WSU playing bad defense in Tuesday’s newspaper. His point was that WSU has played pretty good defense all season. Fair point. Perhaps the Northern Arizona game was on my mind. WSUs defense has kept it in most games. On the other hand, the Shockers have had some letdowns that make this team what it is. If they were a great defensive team, they wouldn’t be headed for 20 losses. WSU is fifth in the Valley in points allowed (64.1), sixth in shooting defense (43.0 percent) and 10th in three-point defense (39.3 percent), sixth in blocked shots and eighth in steals. Those numbers indicate a fairly average defensive team. In the context of the story, which started with radio host Chris Allison marveling at the lack of complaints during this losing season, I don’t think a reference to poor defense is too far off base. As Nigel Tufnel said in Spinal Tap “That’s just nit-picking, isn’t it?”
- Lots of talk about losing a 21-point lead against Indiana State. “We didn’t handle their pressure,” Marshall said. “It just evaporated like … It was amazing.”
- WSU split two meetings with Indiana State and played well enough to win in its loss. “It’s a team we can certainly compete with,” Marshall said. “It was quite an interesting game last time we played them. It was also an interesting game when we played them here.”
- Marshall’s favorite to win in St. Louis is Illinois State. “I like their athleticism,” he said. “Their ability to shoot the ball. Their inside game. Their senior leadership. And they’ve got the added incentive that they probably have to win. They may get an at-large bid, but they’ve got to win a couple games in the tournament to do that.”
- It appears Barry Hinson is out. No surprise. I’m not sure this is news to people around the Valley.
- ESPN’s Pat Forde calls the Shockers a bust. When you’re 11-19, you’re going to get those shots. It is a stunning fall from 2006. People who follow the program closely know the circumstances.