4 storylines for IU’s NIT game vs. Wichita State

1. Battle on the boards
A key factor in Wichita State’s mid-year turnaround has been its success on the glass. Since Jan. 30, the Shockers have out-rebounded 12 of their 16 opponents. In the NIT alone, Wichita State has been a combined plus-21 in the rebound margin. For the season, the Shockers’ offensive rebounding rate of 32.9 percent ranks 45th nationally. Indiana, meanwhile, has outperformed five of its past seven opponents on the glass. Similarly to Wichita State, IU’s upward late-season trajectory has been partially attributable to its success on the boards. “Rebounding the ball is huge,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “If we’re rebounding the ball, our team has shown they’re able to play with anyone. This is going to be one of those deals where our guards and everyone is going to have to be committed. They’re bigger on the perimeter.”

2. Echenique’s return to form
After a frustrating three-game run in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, Wichita State’s Jaime Echenique has been a positive contributor toward the Shockers’ run to the NIT quarterfinals. The junior college transfer combined for merely 27 points and 13 rebounds at the conference tournament, but since the start of the NIT, he’s been much more productive. He’s averaging 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the NIT, while hitting 15 of his 18 shots from the field. A 6-foot-11 junior, Echenique’s 25.8 percent defensive rebound percentage leads all AAC players and is the second-highest in the league’s six-year history. In Sunday’s win at Clemson, Echenique finished with 18 points, two rebounds, two blocks and three steals. “I love what he’s able to do,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “He became our best post player early on. He was really, really good at one point early, then he hurt his foot. He had plantar fascitis. … He’s been great (lately). He was wonderful in the Clemson game.”

3. Smith on guard
Saturday’s win over Arkansas marked the second time in the past three games that Justin Smith has gone scoreless. He attempted only three shots against the Razorbacks, and was unable to convert on any for the third time this season. While IU could certainly use more scoring production from the sophomore forward, Smith’s most important contributions against Wichita State could come on the defensive end. Smith is likely to draw the assignment of guarding Wichita State leading scorer Markis McDuffie. “Without question that matchup is huge,” Miller said. “I think Justin has to step up and sort of rise to his level a little bit. He has to be ready to go at that end of the floor.”

4. No update on Langford
Indiana’s Romeo Langford continues to receive treatment on his ailing back, a program spokesman said on Monday. Although the freshman’s status for Tuesday’s game has not been determined, it appears that Langford, who is also weighing a decision to enter this summer’s NBA Draft, could miss his third straight game of the NIT. With Langford sitting, Devonte Green has logged a season-high 37 minutes in back-to-back games. “Without Romeo, I know that I might have to play more minutes,” Green said. “I practice hard every day of the week. It’s not anything new, really.”

3 comments

  1. Here are a couple of storylines you need to start doing: Baseball team is still undefeated at home and this past week swept all of the players of the week awards in the Big Ten and swept Iowa to open the Big Ten season up. Up until this past weekend the softball team was ranked in the top 25. Getting swept by Ohio St. did not help.

  2. Justin needs to exhibit the POTENTIAL that he will carry unto next year; he has 3 games left to show us what he could be for next year, right now it appears he is happy just plugging into a slot to run and jump..he isn’t adding much

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