On my way to school yesterday my son asked me if it was April fool’s day. “Yes”, I replied. Whereupon, from the back seat, my 10-year old daughter queried; “it’s March 1st? “ This is the same little girl who upon making the honor roll at school asked earnestly—“how did I do it?”
10 point dogs—
Wichita State is going to get less of a chance from the pundits than they did against Gonzaga or Ohio State, how did those games work out? The fact is that Louisville is the most impressive team left in the tournament, but that doesn’t mean they’ll win it. What it does mean is that they’ve been playing lights out. Winners of fourteen straight, they’ve won those games by an average of 17 points. Just Syracuse, which is in the Final 4 and Oregon, in the Sweet 16, has played the Cardinals to single digits. Interestingly, the Shocker coaching staff doesn’t need to go far for a first hand scouting report. Both Northern Iowa and Illinois State played Louisville tough early in the season. The Panthers lost by 15 in Puerto Rico, then, less than two weeks later, the Redbirds fell by only three. Actually, Gregg Marshall could make the call to Illinois State, I’m not sure that they would answer.
By the way---
Lost in the euphoria of the Final Four is the fact that Wichita State won for a school record 30th time this season with the win over Ohio State. The Shockers have now 111 times over the last four seasons. It’s the most wins in a four year span in Missouri Valley Conference history, surpassing Cincinnati in the early 60s. In all fairness, they play mopre games now—but the 111 is impressive. In fact, it’s the seventh highest win total in the country over that period. Only Kansas (131), Duke (124), Kentucky/Ohio State (123), Syracuse (121) and BYU (112) have more. The Shockers are keeping good company.
Ten officials have been chosen to referee in the Final Four; they include four who’ve done Shocker games this season. John Higgins will be the most familiar to Shocker fans, as he’s done nine Wichita State games this season. I wouldn’t say that Higgins is popular with the local crowd, but then what official is. Generally, I consider Higgins to be a pretty good whistle, although he’s been somewhat uneven this year. By the way, the Shocks have lost just twice in two years with Higgins on the crew. That probably has more to do with the Shockers being good than it does an official—I’m just pointing it out. Higgins most recently had the Shockers game against Gonzaga.
Opening day in baseball---
Isn’t it just like the Royals to lead all of baseball in batting during spring training, only to come out and get shut out on seven hits in the opener? James Shields was good in his Kansas City debut, scattering eight hits through six innings of 1 run ball. He made one mistake on a high change up that Tyler Flowers jumped on in the fifth inning and that was the difference in the game. Do you think it presumptuous of the Royals to tag Shields as “Big game James”? This is the same marketing department that gave us “it’s our turn” last year. Incidentally, winning the game for the White Sox was Chris Sale who, until two weeks ago, was the biggest thing that had ever been produced by Florida Gulf Coast. In fact, the Shockers beat Sales in a trip south a few years ago.
Speaking of Florida Gulf Coast---
Head Coach Andy Enfield, who led the Eagles to the Sweet 16, bolted them for the job at USC yesterday. It’s interesting that the two game run into the tourney must have swayed Trojan’s Athletic Director Pat Haden—because the fact is that Florida Gulf Coast finished second in the Atlantic Ten behind Mercer and just ahead of Stetson. Enfield does have a good travel agent, however, going from Ft. Myers, FL to Los Angeles.