In my Monday blog, I created a fictional Shocker Invitational tournament which includes 16 teams filled with some of the most outstanding Wichita State basketball players from the past and present, going back to the 1951-52 season, Ralph Miller’s first as coach.
We’re going to find a way to play this tournament in the coming weeks and I hope you’ll follow along. It should be fun and I appreciate all of the response the Shocker Invitational has gotten. I love this kind of stuff, by the way. There’s no subject that perks up my ears quite like Shocker basketball, unless its City League basketball or Cardinals baseball. They’re all in a tie for first.
Today, I wanted to further explain how I came up with the 80 players who make up the 16 starting lineups for the Shocker Invitational. Because some fine players were left off. I combed through players with an eye toward filling the five positions that make up a traditional basketball starting lineup. So, each team includes a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center.
It wasn’t easy finding 16 centers. And it wasn’t easy finding 16 point guards. The other positions were difficult because of an overabundance of players.
So who are some of the deserving players who were left off?
Let’s start with forward Jim McNerney, who played for Miller from 1952-55 and scored 829 points. McNerney averaged 12 points per game as a sophomore for a 16-11 WSU team in 1952-53 that was led by his classmate, Cleo Littleton.
It was difficult to leave Gary Thompson out of the Shocker Invitational. He, too, was a Miller player from 1951-54 and an outstanding guard who scored 574 career points.
Forward John Gales averaged 10.9, 9.2 and 11.2 points per game during his WSU career (1958-61) and finished his Shocker career with 729 points.
Center Elbert Urban, another Miller player, scored 506 points from 1957-60. He has a strong case to be in the Shocker Invitational. Sorry, Elbert.
Guards Don Lock and Virgil Brady also played during the Miller-era and were successful players. They’re not in the Shocker Invitational.
Neither is hulking forward Wayne Durham (1960-63), a Shocker from my earliest recollections of attending games at the Roundhouse with my father.
There are others who could have been included:
Guards – John Criss, Lillard Harris, Art Louvar, Charlie Brent, Mike Jones, Karl Papke, Lew Hill, Gary Cundiff, Joe Griffin, Keith Bonds, Ryan Herrs, Marvin Hill, Terrance Flowers, CC McFall, Karon Bradley, Gal Mekel, David Kyles, Demetric Williams.
Forwards – John Friederdorf (a senior in 1951-52), Jim McNerney, Don Laketa, Garry Mann, John Gales, Wayne Durham, Melvin Reed, Jack Matthews, Jim Givens, Doug Yoder, Neil Strom, Steve Kalocinski, Richard Williams, Jay Jackson, Dwayne Praylow, Aaron Davis, Michael Wiggins, Larry Callis, OJ Robinson, Bret Wise, Ryan Martin, Ramon Clemente, Graham Hatch, Ben Smith.
Centers – Marv Carman, Elbert Urban, Dave Skinner, Zarko Durisic, Phil Thomasson.
I’ll be writing about the Shocker Invitational frequently on the blog, as well as other things. It’s not going to be the only thing I write about here. But it’s fun. And I like having fun.
At some point, we’ll start the tournament. But not for a while.