It was a simple message on the white board in the locker room from head coach Gregg Marshall but that was all that he needed to remind the players that they were a good team. And it worked.
I'm serious when I say that. THAT was an ending to the start of the Final Four in Atlanta.
The possession arrow changing hands was a factor in the end and Ron Baker was fighting for that ball all the way. Was it a bummer that the game didn't come down to an actual shot? Yes, but such is basketball nowadays.
When Wichita State led by 12 points in the second half, it was more of an affirmation than anything else, regarding this basketball team. Did you see the dunk from Cleanthony Early? It was impressive. It was a defining moment from the player and the team. NCAA committee members will never forget that moment. Neither will we.
It was a fun ride for the Shockers, and ourselves. We aren't supposed to root for teams or show impartiality. But with this Wichita State team, you can't help yourself. You couldn't. They were the forgotten team, the one that everyone pegged for rebuilding and, "let's just hope we get through this season..."
Look at what they did. 30 wins, 111 over the past four years and the first Final Four since 1965. And they pushed the Cardinals to the brink for 30 minutes in Atlanta, GA.
"I don't think we could face a basketball team any better than Wichita State," Said Rick Pitino. "They are great."
"The reason our starters played so poorly is because Wichita State is that good," Pitino added. "We are really happy to be playing in the final game."
That's Rick Pitino. Another compliment to the Shockers are his media quotes quips that were even better.
The Shockers didn't shock anyone who knew anything about college basketball by making it to the Final Four. The only shocking part was the team that did it and the circumstances surrounding it from day one.
Losing the final game is difficult, especially when you are in it to the end.
It's even harder for the seniors because unless they were Thomas Robinson or now Ben McLemore, the future in professional basketball is uncertain.
Malcolm Armstead built himself up for this moment, transferring from Oregon, paying his own way and then making good on his attitude that this team will make the Final Four.
He picked he wrong time for his worst game in the Tournament, scoring only two points.
"It wasn't my night offensively, as far as scoring the ball," he said. "A lot of my shots were, you know, uncontested."
Armstead was the maestro, as Marshall said Friday. He was the best player of the tournament and if he scores just five or six points against the Cardinals, then we have a different ball game. Tough to see them end their career that way. Same goes for Carl Hall, Demetric Williams and Ehimen Orukpe. It's hard for all of them. And it's no fun for us.
Future's So Bright
Wichita State graduates four players from this team. All of their contributions were immeasurable but the team coming back looks incredible.
Ron Baker wrapped his arm arund Fred Van Vleet's neck after the loss. That should tell you all you need to know about the future of the Shockers.
Add in Evan Wessel and then Derail Green, and you have two talents that we didn't get a great shot at seeing this season. Wessel with injury, Green had to sit out.
Chadrack Lufile will anchor the middle and we can assumed that Tekele Cotton will only become even more of an unbelievable defensive presence.
Oh and then there's Cleanthony Early coming back. You did see his 24 points in the loss to Louisville, right?
Chin up Shocker fans. The future's bright.