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For a prime example of poise under pressure, look no further than P.J. Couisnard's performance during the Shockers' upset of second-seeded Tennessee in the NCAA tournament. Besides leading the team in points (20), rebounds (nine) and assists (five), Couisnard (left) shot 6 for 7 from the field and had the presence of mind to repeatedly point to his parents in the stands so that they might get on TV. "His personality is as good as his playing ability," coach Mark Turgeon says. "P.J. does it all--and he doesn't get rattled. He wants to be in big situations."
A 6'4" junior, Couisnard is what Turgeon calls "a point-three." Couisnard's speed and versatility will be even more valuable as the Shockers shift to an up-tempo style after the graduation of 6'10" center Paul Miller, the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year. "For two years all we did was come down the court and find out how to get Paul the ball," Turgeon says. "Last year we were first in the league in field goal defense, but if we have to give up some of those percentage points to get more steals and layups, we'll do it."
Wichita State has the shooting to make defenses pay: Junior guard Sean Ogirri and senior center Kyle Wilson combined to hit 43.6% of their three-pointers last season. It is a measure of Turgeon's confidence that he put together a schedule that includes road games against two of last year's Final Four teams, George Mason and LSU. That means the Shockers will find themselves under more pressure this season. "I like the high expectations," Couisnard says. "I feel like we can live up to them."
Nov. 11 Rockhurst
Nov. 14 Chicago State
Nov. 18 at George Mason
Nov. 25 at LSU