I think everyone who followed WSU prepared for a wacky year of ups and downs because of this team’s lack of experience. I don’t think anybody was prepared for the way things have gone in WSU’s 0-5 MVC start. Sunday’s loss to Drake provided some bright spots, as well as an equal number of negatives. I think the most important thing is that more of the Shockers played hard consistently. What does it mean? We find out more Wednesday at Missouri State. Was Sunday a fluke shooting performance or is WSU really ready to play more consistently?
- Drake went on an 8-3 run in the first half. WSU responded with an 8-2 run. Drake scored two straight baskets. WSU went on an 8-0 run. Drake took a two-point lead early in the second half iwth six unanswered points. WSU scored five of its own to regain the lead. Drake went up eight points with 4:47 to play. WSU tied it with eight straight. In previous games, WSU couldn’t answer and a 6-0 run became a 12-2 run and the game got out of hand.
- The bad news is WSU’s defense is not moving forward. The Shockers allowed 70 points twice in their first 13 games. Their past three opponents scored 78, 74, 74. Opposing guards are driving to the basket way too easily and find too little resistance once they get there. In five conference games, WSU is allowing teams to shoot 49.6 percent from the field (9th in the MVC) and 49.3 percent from three (10th).
- WSU desperately needs more out of Ramon Clemente and A.J. Hawkins, two players everyone assumed would be rock-solid this season. They have been, until recently. Foul trouble killed Hawkins, who played eight minutes and picked up. Clemente played 15 minutes and didn’t score. Their body of work says those two are better than that.
- I’m not sure where Drake fits in the MVC race. The Bulldogs have a big week with games against Illinois State and Northern Iowa. Better passing teams will avoid the turnovers that killed WSU. Drake’s guards are as good as any in the MVC, so that will probably keep the Bulldogs in the race. Cox needs some help in the frontcourt. The Bulldogs appear to get nothing out of the post. They make up for it with their guards.
- Factor WSU’s schedule into all of your thinking. WSU opponents are 17-8 in the MVC. Three of the five are tied for first. While WSU contributed to those good records, the Shockers didn’t get much of a good bounce from the schedule. They dropped the one (winless SIU) in their possession. I think SIU will be a much better team the rest of the way.