* Sounds like the Wichita State Shockers are growing weary of the media exposure they’ve been getting lately. Who can blame them? It’s one interview after another for these guys in the NCAA Tournament, to the point where they’re just saying the same things over and over gain.
* The Shocker players have been great, though. What a polite group of guys. I’ve made it my personal challenge in Salt Lake City and here in Los Angeles to try to get sophomore guard Tekele Cotton to open up some. Results are mixed. He’s a quiet guy. But I’m usually pretty good and cracking people. Just give me a little more time and the words will come flowing out of Cotton the way lava flows from Old Faithful.
* Can Wichita State beat Ohio State? Of course. But things will have to fall into place. Ohio State is big, athletic and quick. Deshaun Thomas might be the most gifted offensive player in the country and it doesn’t look like the Shockers, at least on paper, have a match for him defensively.
* Perhaps junior forward Cleanthony Early draws the defensive assignment on Thomas. But that would be a tough one for Early, who has at times struggled defensively. And it might also wear him down to the point that his offensive effectiveness would be compromised. WSU coach Gregg Marshall could give defender-deluxe Tekele Cotton the chore of covering Thomas, although he would be giving away five inches. That’s a real detriment; remember how Cotton, despite his great ability as a defender, struggled with Creighton’s 6-8 Doug McDermott this season. It’ll be interesting to see how Marshall goes about defending the Buckeyes. That’s first and foremost the most telling aspect of any Wichita State game, given how much the Shockers stress defense.
* Sophomore forward Jake White played just a few mop-up minutes in the Shockers’ 72-58 Sweet 16 win over La Salle on Thursday. It was strictly a match-up thing and I look for the 6-8 White to be on the floor often against the powerful Buckeyes. He could be an X factor, especially if he can knock down a couple of shots.
* One of the keys for the Shockers will be trying to keep Ohio State junior guard Aaron Craft from controlling the tempo. I think Cotton will probably guard Craft and attempt to pressure him on the perimeter so that he can’t get into the lane and dish out assists. Craft is a heady guard who understands the game. But Cotton loves these challenges and has made a name for himself in the Shockers’ three NCAA Tournament games.
* Ron Baker is feeling more and more comfortable with every game. He’s a warrior. I watched him specifically on quite a few possessions in Thursday night’s game against La Salle and he does it all. He’s a tough defender and loves to go the boards, especially if he smells an offensive rebound. He’s also a fantastic passer. In fact, I thought the Shockers had the best passing game I’ve seen from them this season against La Salle. I think Baker is a big part of that.
* To my friends who ask me what I’m doing for fun in LA. Well, not much. My son and I did go to dinner at Dan Tana’s the other night, the place where Glenn Frey got the idea for the Eagles’ song ‘Lyin’ Eyes.’ Then we went over to the Troubadour, which is just a few steps from Dan Tana’s, but we didn’t stay to hear the band. It was a punk band called Off With Their Heads. I love most styles of music, but not punk. What can I say?
* Otherwise, covering these tournaments is a lot of work. Yes, I use the term “work” loosely, because I’ve never really considered what I do to qualify. Maybe a better way to put it is to say covering the tournament is time consuming, even on the days when there are no games. It’s a process to come up with ideas, especially when most have been covered. Then there are the interviews and the time it takes to write the stuff. So I haven’t done much in Southern California. We were thinking of getting out to the Dodgers-Angels exhibition game tonight at Dodger Stadium, but we’re just too tired. Weak, I know.
* Thanks for reading. I’ll have some Saturday musings tomorrow before the big WSU-Ohio State game. It’s exciting. Thanks for reading.