WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State basketball will open its 2020-21 season this week against Oral Roberts and Missouri with just eight players, as five scholarship players and three walk-ons are quarantined. Two players tested positive for COVID-19, while the other six are out due to close contact.
First reported by Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman, Wichita State will be without its three freshman: Ricky Council, Jaden Seymour and Chaunce Jenkins, redshirt freshman Josaphat Bilau and Craig Porter.
The Shockers’ projected starting lineup — Alterique Gilbert, Tyson Etienne, Dexter Dennis, Trey Wade and Morris Udeze — is unaffected by the team’s current COVID-19 situation.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced guys that will be playing in this game and that’s comforting to know that they’ve been through it,” said Wichita State interim head coach Isaac Brown. “We’ve just got to make sure we do a good job of playing smart and staying out of foul trouble with a limited bench.”
Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, Clarence Jackson and Trevin Wade are expected to be the team’s only bench players.
“We definitely will have a short bench,” said Brown. “We’ve got to scout them out and we’ve just got to play smart. We can’t get in foul trouble because we only have eight guys available.”
The Shockers are practicing 4-on-4 in preparation for Wednesday’s opener against Oral Roberts.
“It’s the first time I’ve had to practice with eight guys in like 20 years. You don’t run into that in practice a lot,” said Brown. “Practice has just been a lot different because we’ve had to do a lot of different drills. It’s hard to do five on five because you only have eight guys available. We’ve been doing a lot of four-on-four drills, a lot of shooting drills, trying to run Oral Roberts’ stuff with just four guys.”
Wichita State withdrew from last week’s Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D. after multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the team travel party.
“The guys that were able to play were feeling down, but once we got back, we focused on Oral Roberts and we’ve had three good days of practice,” said Brown. Today it’ll be our last practice preparing for the game. I think we’re ready to go.”
Wichita State and Oral Roberts will meet for a third-consecutive year in Wichita. The Shockers won 68-59 last November behind Trey’s Wade’s 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks and lead the all-time series 8-5.
ORU is picked second in the Summit League poll and has a pair of preseason all-conference performers. The Eagles lost their opener at Mizzou (WSU’s foe this coming Sunday) but bounced back on Saturday to defeat Rogers State.
“Oral Roberts is a good basketball team,” said Brown. “Oral Roberts is a team that can really shoot it from the 3-point line one through five. They have a big kid inside that averages 18 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, so he’s a double-double guy. They’ve got a guard that averages 18 points per game and has a deep range. Number one, we have to defend the 3-point line, because like I said, they can shoot it one through five and make threes. We’ve also got to do a good job getting back in transition, and we’ve got to do a good job of guarding the big kid in the low post because he’s a guy that’s averaging a double-double.”
ORAL ROBERTS GOLDEN EAGLES at WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS
Wednesday, Dec. 2 | 6:01 p.m. CT | Wichita, Kan. / Charles Koch Arena (COVID Capacity: 100)
Shocker Radio: KEYN 103.7 FM
Series: WSU leads 8-5 (5-3 in Wichita) | Last: Nov. 23, 2019 in Wichita (WSU, 68-59)
UP NEXT: WSU hosts Missouri, Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. CT) on ESPN2 in the first meeting between the two programs since 1951.