By PAUL SUELLENTROP
Tribune News Service
WICHITA -- Newman coach Mark Potter can more easily appreciate what Wichita State does on the basketball court than most opposing coaches. It isn't much of a stretch to call him a fan. As an NCAA Division II coach, he enjoys the luxury of enjoying the Shockers while competing against them.
On Sunday, No. 11 WSU routed Newman 105-57 and Potter's up-close look at the Shockers went as expected. He paid special attention to WSU guard Fred VanVleet, who looks even better when put under Potter's game-plan microscope.
"I know everybody knows that Fred VanVleet is a really, really great player," Potter said. "You get to see that live, and he's impossible to guard. His decision-making is incredible. Fred, he's fun to watch. That's special."
Almost all the Shockers (3-0) looked good on Sunday as they won their 34th straight regular-season game and 27th straight non-conference home game. The NCAA Division II Jets, playing a game that counted as an exhibition for them, never threatened either streak. WSU senior Tekele Cotton sat out to protect a jammed finger on his right hand and the Shocker newcomers got plenty of playing time, which was coach Gregg Marshall's wish when WSU scheduled the game.
The 105 points are the most scored by WSU in Marshall's eight seasons.
"That was the goal, to try to lengthen the bench," Marshall said. "Some guys made some strides."
Ron Baker led WSU with 18 points and made 4 of 6 three-pointers. Darius Carter added 15 points and VanVleet 12, as well as four assists and a steal in 17 minutes. Wichita State won its first two games with disruptive defense and turnovers turned into layups. Against Newman, WSU's offense did most of the work. VanVleet did his part with his usual crossover dribbles and change-of-pace drives to the basket.
"I enjoy great basketball and I will learn from that," Potter said. "We have three or four sets that we have from them. We'll have more after (Sunday)."
Reggie Baker led Newman with 14 points. The Jets made 17 of 53 shots and committed 14 turnovers, fewer than either of WSU's previous opponents. The Shockers outscored the Jets 48-12 in the lane and 47-14 off the bench. WSU out-rebounded the Jets 57-27.
Newman, 2-0 against NCAA Division II opponents, might have made it a little more interesting had WSU continued its poor outside shooting. The Shockers, 4 for 27 from three-point range entering the game, dispelled that possibility quickly by making its first three threes on its way to a 10-of-23 performance.
"We were able to knock them down, unlike our first two games," Baker said. "I hit my first one and after that it's just green light."
Marshall had no worries about WSU's poor shooting against New Mexico State and Memphis. Baker raised his percentage from 22.2 percent to 40 percent with one big game. VanVleet missed all three of his and is 1 for 9 this season.
"I've said all along this is going to be a very good three-point shooting team," Marshall said. "Fred is the only guy, right now, that's not shooting it really well. He will."
No WSU starter played more than Baker's 24 minutes. Freshman center Shaq Morris took Cotton's spot in the lineup and scored six points and handed out three assists in 11 minutes. Marshall liked freshman forward Zach Brown's hustle on defense and he made all three of his shots to finish with nine points and six rebounds. Junior center Bush Wamukota grabbed six rebounds in 12 minutes and made 6 of 10 foul shots.
WSU's eight scholarship newcomers played together, as part or all of the lineup, for long stretches, especially in the second half.
"It gets us used to each other, being out there and building a rhythm," freshman guard Corey Henderson said.
WSU did exactly as expected in a building a 67-33 halftime lead, although its accurate three-point shooting provided a bit of relief. WSU made 10 of 17 three-pointers in the first half, six more than it made in two previous games. Baker opened the game with a three and made another for a 6-4 lead. Evan Wessel's three gave WSU a 14-7 lead.
The Shockers led 26-20 when Carter converted a three-point play off a high-low pass from Morris for a nine-point edge. That basket started a 15-6 run that handed total control to the Shockers, one capped by Carter's layup off an assist from Wessel. WSU finished the half on a 41-13 run.
The 67 points is three shy of WSU's record for a half, accomplished against Texas-Pan American in 1982, a game WSU won 118-65.
WSU tried to get another NCAA Division I opponent for a home game Sunday. Newman stood ready as a replacement and the timing may help the team's newcomers. The Shockers return to NCAA Division I competition against Tulsa on Saturday at Koch Arena.