Gregg Marshall and his staff had a great game plan last night and their team executed it perfectly. La Salle’s vaunted guards were shut down from the start and, for all intents and purposes, the game was over midway through the first half. As expected, or feared by LaSalle, the Shockers owned the paint and the glass—it was another impressive performance made even more so by the fact that it was expected. The onus is always on the favorite and the Shocks played the role perfectly, getting out early and cruising against a team that really didn’t have an answer for WSU.
It’s interesting to me that all three coaches who’ve been beaten by Wichita State have been surprised by their quickness. I get that quickness may not immediately discerned on video, but you’d think the message would start to be heard. Wichita State gets so much credit for their defense and rebounding and rightfully so, but their quickness is what’s helping to set them apart.
“They were all over the place, they really came to play”, said La Salle’s Ramon Galloway. “I can honestly say that, by far, they are the most physical team that we’ve played. They just get after it.”
Giannini was even more impressed: “They’re big time. They’re quick, they’re big, they’re strong, they’re deep. That’s another thing they have going that most people don’t have—is that whole thing about going ten deep. They’re as good as anyone we played against all year”.
It’ll be interesting to hear how Ohio State reacts to the Shockers today. The Buckeyes will say all the right things and head coach Thad Motta will actually believe what he’s saying. But you wonder about a team that’s cut their teeth in the toughest conference in the country really being able to muster respect for a team from the Valley. I don’t think it’s disrespect as much as it is human nature to discount, ever so slightly, a program that doesn’t come from a similar level.
MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin has been in lockstep with the Shockers throughout the tournament. With Creighton leaving for the Big East there seems to be a concern about what Wichita State might do—there’s really only one place they could go to upgrade and that’s the Mountain West. The MWC has eleven schools playing basketball, if they were looking for a twelfth one would think that WSU would be an attractive candidate. Most of the speculation surrounding the replacement of Creighton is centering on the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola of Chicago and Valparaiso. The conference has reportedly had conversation with Oral Roberts, expect movement to come soon.
Wichita State’s Demetric Williams and KU’s Elijah Johnson consider each as a brother. Their families are close and they went to the same school in Las Vegas. Williams makes no bones about pulling for the Jayhawks and says he rarely goes more than a few days without talking to his friend. According to Demetric, both players really leaned on one another when they were going through tough stretches this season. That’s a story that will blow up if those teams find themselves in Atlanta next week.
I know most of the pundits like the Wolverines and it’s hard to deny their guards, but aren’t these the games that the Jayhawks win? Bill Self lives for these moments and the moment is rarely too big for KU. Having said that, they do have holes in their offensive game—but I feel like they’re due to break out. One things for sure, the ‘Hawks can’t get turned over the way they have in their first two tourney games. Still, I’ll take Jeff Withey and that great Kansas defense to reach the Elite Eight against a Florida team that could present an even bigger challenge.