by Kevin Burton
Grant Sherfield swished a 12-foot fadeaway jumper with three seconds left Friday night to complete a last-minute comeback and win the game.
Sherfield no longer does great things like that for Wichita State. He is one of several top players who transferred away from WSU, fleeing the reportedly abusive coaching of Gregg Marshall.
If you read this blog you know I’m a nut for Wichita State basketball. The Isaac Brown-led Shockers are doing surprisingly well. They are 10-4 entering today’s home game against Temple.
But there is another “team” I’m trying to follow. It’s the team of players who fled Wichita in recent years, mostly because of Marshall, according to published reports.
My thought was to put them together like a fantasy team, combine their stats and pit them against other teams, especially against the current WSU team. It’s not an easy task because so many players left.
I’m calling the team the Mirror State Marshals. Mirror State because the players could not wait to put Wichita in the rearview mirror. Also, I though the Wichita State administration that enabled Marshall all those years needed to take a good look in the mirror.
They are the Marshals because of the man who made it all possible.
You think I don’t have enough Ls in the team name, Marshals? Well I did it that way because you never did get too many Ls with a Gregg Marshall team.
The seamy underside of that success came to light this fall thanks to journalists from The Athletic and Stadium, no thanks to the local Wichita paper.
I had given up trying to catch the games of all those ex-Shockers. But Monday night I was inspired to try again. Ninth rated Oklahoma, with former Shocker Austin Reeves, visited 15th-ranked Texas Tech with former Shocker Jamarius Burton. That was two for the price of one, too good to pass up.
Reeves was out of the Oklahoma lineup because of contact tracing. Nevertheless I heard his name more than Burton’s during the broadcast.
Sooner Nation loves Austin Reeves, the unquestioned senior leader of the team, with good reason. He was pre-season all big 12. He leads the team in points, rebounds and assists.
On Monday when Oklahoma was out of sorts for a stretch, a Texas Tech announcer said “The Sooners are missing Austin Reeves right now. He would calm these situations down.”
Texas Tech is not nearly so enamored of Burton. He is averaging 4.8, 1.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game. He didn’t get that even against Oklahoma.
Burton played just 12 minutes with two points and a rebound.
Thursday I tuned in for Washington at Oregon State. Erik Stevenson landed at Washington this year after two years at Wichita State.
His did next to nothing in his first nine games with the Huskies but has come on, scoring in double figures in most games since then, including 27 against California.
Stevenson made a driving layup in the first half with “a little flex at the end,” according to Huskie radio. Same old Erik. He was famous for flexing his muscles and flapping his jaws while in Wichita.
Oregon State won 91-71. Stevenson finished with 14 points. At 3-14 their season is a shambles but Stevenson is seen as one of the pieces to build around.
Sherfield’s heroics were a surprise to no one.
“He’s the best point guard we’ll see all year, maybe the best player we’ll see all year,” said Boise State Analyst Dave Jackson.
At halftime Sherfield had as many airballs as made baskets. But in the second half he took over, finishing with 20 points including the game winner. His career-high 14 assists raised his average to 6.1 per game. That’s 15th in the nation.
Noah Fernandes was out with an injury Saturday, but his Massachusetts team upset Rhode Island nevertheless 75-63. He is considered one of the best if not the best player on the roster.
Deantoni Gordon, who spent one year at WSU transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College. Monday he scored 24 points including the game winning three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left, in a 69-67 win over over Coahoma Community College.
Former Shocker C.J. Keyser is at North Carolina Central. He averages 19.3 points per game and is shooting 41.4 percent from three.
If the Shockers don’t make the NCAA tournament (assuming we have one) some of our ex-Shocker friends surely will. Oklahoma and Texas Tech are locks.
If WSU does make the tournament, wouldn’t it be interesting for them to cross paths with one of the ex-Shockers? The tournament committee loves to do things like that.