Gregg Marshall likes to win.
He's competitive and he's a basketball coach, and that means every time he puts a team on a court he wants his players to have more points than the other players when the final buzzer sounds. He can't help it -- which is why it took great discipline to do what Marshall did during Wichita State's recent 11-day, five-game trip to Brazil.
"There was one game where I played nothing but freshmen and a transfer," Marshall said. "That was good. And in a lot of games I played the veterans and the new guys equally -- just tried to put my competitive nature on check and get those new guys meaningful minutes. I think that's going to help us in November and December. We all want to win, but you're there to get better. So you have to alter your mindset a little bit."
Wichita State returned home from Brazil last week.
Marshall shared his thoughts about the trip with CBSSports.com on Monday.
What Marshall learned: "I learned that our young guys have learned how intense and focused and passionate they have to be on every possession [at the college level]. This is different for them. A lot of these guys are so talented that they could coast a little bit [in high school]. But they now know what's expected, and they now have two months to do all the things to get prepared for [the start of practice on] Oct. 15. They'll be able to say, 'I'm ready for this.'"
What or who impressed Marshall: "I was most impressed with some of our new guys. That was the group I was focusing on, and, to be honest, that's the group that showed the most positive signs relative to what I was expected. There are some new guys who we are going to need to be ready, and they showed that they're going to be ready."
What concerned Marshall: "My veterans were up and down. They need to be more consistent. Obviously, they've got talent. I've got five or six guys who could be all-conference. But which ones are going to do that? Which ones are going to step up in the next 50 days and get ready to have a monster junior or senior season?"
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- Marshall decided to allow his veterans to lift weights and run this week, but they're doing little-to-no work on the basketball court. "I'm gonna let them cool off a little bit," he said. "I hate the word 'burnout.' But you don't want them going steady from July through March."
- One of the highlights of the trip to Brazil came when Wichita State hosted a basketball clinic at a school for impoverished children. "We went into one of these deals, and it's eye-opening and sad," Marshall said. "But they're trying to keep these kids in school, and they're using sports to try to do it. It's just like in the United States. If you're involved in sports you stay in school more. So we went into the school and did a clinic, toured the facility, saw the classrooms, and it was a great experience for our guys. The kids acted like our guys were NBA players. They were just awestruck. It was a very cool experience."
- Wichita State signed James Anacreon, a junior college transfer, just before leaving for Brazil. The 6-foot-7 forward didn't make the trip because he had to finish some academic work, but Marshall expects the addition to help this season. "We think we've got a pretty good player," Marshall said. "He can give us quality minutes at a forward spot."
- Marshall, like most successful non-BCS coaches, has found it difficult to schedule power-conference opponents. "So," he said, "we've gone after the best non-BCS guys we could find." Consequently, the Shockers have games scheduled this season with UNLV, Tulsa, UAB and Utah State. They're still looking for one more game, though. "We're open to anything at this point," Marshall said. "If we could find the right opponent we'd be open to a home-and-home [series]. But we're open to anything."