Shocker Invitational (Breaking down Team 7)

We’re getting a lot of fun feedback on the fictional Shocker Invitational, an upcoming 16-team tournament played by 16 make-believe teams from Wichita State’s basketball present and past. You can see the makeup of the teams here.

One of the most obscure players among the 80 chosen to participate is Don Woodworth. Unless you’re been a Shocker basketball fan for a long time, you probably don’t know much about him. Or anything about him.

Woodworth was a 6-foot-4 forward and a three-year starter from 1955-56 through 1957-58. He’s from Parsons, where he still lives with his wife, Pat.

In his three seasons, Woodworth played in all 78 WSU games and averaged 11.9 points and 8.8 rebounds, playing for legendary coach Ralph Miller and with some other outstanding Shocker players, including Joe Stevens, Al Tate, Don Lock, Ev Wessel and Garry Mann.

Woodworth is a member of Team 7 in the Shocker Invitational, one captained by former Wichita State standout Warren Armstrong. It also includes center Carl Hall and a backcourt of Greg Carney and Matt Braeuer.

I’ve noticed as people try to pick the potential winning team from among the 16, Team 5 doesn’t get much run. But perhaps it should.

Armstrong, who played from 1965-66 through 1967-68, is one of the three or four greatest players in Wichita State history, in my opinion. At 6-feet-2, he could do everything and still ranks among the Shockers’ all-time leaders in assists (second) and rebounding (seventh). He also averaged 16.7 points during his career and as a senior averaged 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and nearly seven assists per game. He was amazing.

Carney is the 10th-leading scorer in WSU history, having averaged 20.1 points for his career. He’s one of two players in Shocker history to averaged 20-plus points in a career. Dave Stallworth is the other. That is heady company.

Yes, Carney loved to shoot. He took 1,440 shots in three years. But he made his share and averaged 23.2 points as a senior in 1969-70.

Braeuer was a tough-minded point guard for Mark Turgeon and Gregg Marshall and ranks No. 12 all-time in assists and 15th in steals.

And Hall, who finished his Shocker career with an appearance in the Final Four last season, was an important part of two highly-successful teams. He was a rugged rebounder and capable scorer.

One thing could hold this team back – size. Hall, who was listed at 6-8 but probably was more like 6-6, is the team’s center. Woodworth plays power forward at 6-4 – maybe 6-5 if he stretches out – and Armstrong is the small forward at 6-2.

But Hall, Woodworth and Armstrong play bigger. All excelled as rebounders despite their lack of size. And what they lack in height, they make up for in strength and bulk.

Woodworth packed 220 pounds.

“He started for three years and just had a good, successful career,” said Lock, Woodworth’s classmate and friend. “He was so strong and so tough.”

Stevens, one of the most prolific scorers in Wichita State history, knew many of the shots he missed would be rebounded by Woodward.

“Very strong rebounder,” Stevens said. “When I was a senior at North High and Woody was at Parsons, we played them in a tournament down there and they beat us. It was one of the two losses we had that year. Don was a great guy and a great teammate.”

My view on Team 5 is that it’s not one to take lightly. Does it ultimately win the Shocker Invitational? Maybe not. But if there’s a Cinderella, this could be the one.