Senior forward Markis McDuffie came into the 2018-19 season with a daunting task: leading the young, new Shocker team.
With high expectations comes high pressure.
In the first game of the season, a 13-point loss to Louisiana Tech, McDuffie showed signs of struggling with fitting in to his new role.
McDuffie admitted that he rushed into things and tried doing too much during that game. During that game, McDuffie made only three of his 11 field goal attempts and finished with eight points.
Once the Shockers hit the road, the senior finally found his groove.
In Wichita State’s win over Providence, McDuffie had 32 points, hitting 12-19 from the field.
After his performance in Annapolis, McDuffie was named the American Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week.
The standout-performances from McDuffie kept on coming after that. The senior has scored in double digits every game since. He averages 20.3 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game.
In Wichita State’s win over Rice, McDuffie addressed the team at the first timeout telling them they should strive to keep Rice under 20 points at the half.
McDuffie’s comment in the huddle made Head Coach Gregg Marshall realize just how much he has stepped up this season.
“That’s the first time he’s ever said anything resembling that in any of our huddles in a little over three years now,” Marshall said. “He’s taking on that leadership role. That’s what I’m proud of.
Marshall said that McDuffie is living up to the expectations set for him this season.
“I’m seeing him grow into a man. I’m seeing him grow in responsibility,” Marshall said. “He’ll be a leader now in some capacity, once the ball stops bouncing for him, because he’s had a little taste of it. Even though we’re not 6-0, he’s handling his part about as well as could be expected.”
In addition to his scoring, McDuffie has focused on assists as well. Marshall pointed out to him that he had zero assists in the first five games.
McDuffie took that to heart and turned around and contributed five assists in the Shockers’ win over Rice.
“[I told him] ‘I’m proud of the way you’ve started the season. You’ve got a lot on your shoulders. Other than the first game, you’ve handled it beautifully. You’re scoring, we need you to score, but you are also doing everything else,'” Marshall said. “That’s part of being a great offensive player, understanding that you’re not always just going to score.”
McDuffie’s leadership will be tested again as Wichita State takes on 4-2 Baylor at Charles Koch Arena on Saturday.