Previewing the non-conference schedule: Wichita State

In what will be Seton Hall’s biggest non-conference draw in quite a few years, No. 10 Wichita State visits the Rock in mid-December.

Not since the days of Louis Orr has the Hall seen such a talented non-league opponent play on the Pirates’ homecourt. To be more specific, just two top-50 RPI teams have visited the Rock (Temple, 2009-10; Richmond, 2010-11) since Seton Hall lost to Texas in 2004 at Continental Airlines Arena. Grant Billmeier was a sophomore at the time.

Sterling Gibbs (19 pts) and Isaiah Whitehead (23 pts) both got theirs in Wichita last season, but the Pirates were never really in the game after the first 10-15 minutes, losing 77-68.

Roster subtractions: Darius Carter (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Tekele Cotton (9.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg), Tevin Glass (2.1 ppg)

Returnees to watch: Ron Baker (14.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg), Fred VanVleet (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.2 apg), Evan Wessel (4.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Rashard Kelly (2.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Shaquille Morris (4.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

Key additions: F Anton Grady (Cleveland State; 14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg), G Conner Frankamp (Kansas; 2.5 ppg), Landry Shamet (top-100 guard), Markis McDuffie (top-150 F)

I won’t treat the Shockers like an unknown commodity since you’re probably aware of their Sweet 16 run last season and 35-1 record in 2013-14. But let me reiterate something: Gregg Marshall’s team is good, really good.Capture

A senior backcourt tandem of point guard Fred VanVleet and two-guard Ron Baker is one of the marquee duos in the entire country while 6-4 tough-as-nails glue guy Evan Wessel (think Derrick Gordon) does just about everything except score while playing the three or four. Wessel may see even more time this year with the departure of Tekele Cotton.

The Shockers have lost Darius Carter from their frontcourt, which you’d think is the weak link in their armor again this year… but not so fast. Gregg Marshall came up big in the transfer market by snaring 6-8 Cleveland State graduate transfer Anton Grady, who averaged 14.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg last year. Grady will lead the line while being supported by sophomores Shaq Morris and Rashard Kelly as well as top-150 incoming St. Anthony (N.J.) forward Markis McDuffie.

But that’s not all. Instead of a long list of departures from last season’s team, it’s the additions list that keeps growing. Wichita State also adds Conner Frankamp, a guard transfer from Kansas and top-100 freshman guard Landry Shamet. I’d guess that both will compete with Evan Wessel for minutes at the three that were lost through Tekele Cotton.

As a whole, there are not many weaknesses in this Shocker team that projects to be just as good if not better than their last two campaigns. This could be the toughest team Seton Hall will face all season and is definitely the best non-league opponent to come to Jersey in over a decade.
Miss the rest of the Preview Series? See below: