No. 7 Wichita State to begin first season in AAC
Seventh-ranked Wichita State arrives for its first season in the American Athletic Conference as the team to beat.
The Shockers return all five starters from last season and are expected to have talented sophomore point guard Landry Shamet ready for Friday's opener against Missouri-Kansas City.
Shamet underwent foot surgery this summer to address a stress fracture. He played 12 minutes in the Shockers' exhibition win over Division II Newman on Monday. Shamet hit all three of his shots and finished with eight points.
"It's something I've been thinking about for a while, obviously, trying to figure out how to progress back into things," Shamet told reporters Monday. "We talked about a 12-minute cap, just get out there a little bit, that way I'm not just going from 0-to-100 playing in these real games."
Wichita State scored 113 points against Newman and looks like it will have a potent, multi-pronged offense for a season with high expectations.
"I was pleased with the way we played," Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said after the exhibition game.
"We were really good in transition, we were sharing the ball tremendously well and we had 24 assists and seven turnovers which, compared to the 13 turnovers in the second half against Henderson State, made the coaching staff very happy."
Shamet said, "We can kind of explode. We have a lot of options."
While Wichita State returns an abundance of experience, UMKC lost all five starters from last year. The Kangaroos, who went 18-17 last season, are picked to finish seventh in the eight-team Western Athletic Conference in the preseason media poll.
"It's going to take us a while, especially with the experience factor," UMKC coach Kareem Richardson told The Kansas City Star. "Taking care of the ball, not allowing certain runs to affect us. It's going to be a work in progress. ... But, man, when you've got a team that's a good group and competitive like they are, that gives you an opportunity."
"We kind of set the bar last year. We want to set a higher bar," sophomore guard Xavier Bishop told the Star. "There's definitely some pressure where we want to do something bigger. ... But we put those expectations upon ourselves to come in, work hard and know what end result we want."
"Last year was last year," Richardson added. "Hopefully, these new guys can put their imprint on the program."
In the spring, Wichita State chose to leave the Missouri Valley Conference and accept an invitation to join the AAC. The Shockers had been a member of the MVC since 1945.
They've established themselves as a consistent NCAA Tournament team under Marshall, having made the field the past five seasons, including a run to the Final Four in 2013.
Wichita State will take part in the Maui Classic this season, opening with a Nov. 20 game against Cal.
Updated November 8, 2017