Links to national and regional stories about Wichita State
Links to national and regional stories about Wichita State
Sunday’s schedule – 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Guard Jake Odum, an All-MVC pick, makes Indiana State go, as every Valley fan knows. He can only do so much and he received criminally low levels of support from his big men in the two regular-season losses to WSU.
Starting center Justin Gant went 2 for 14 with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Center Ted Kitchell went 2 for 4 with seven points and five rebounds. Forward Demetrius Moore, who started both games, went 0 for 2 with no points and two rebounds.
While the Sycamores out-rebounded WSU 41-35 in Terre Haute, the Shocker bigs are an overwhelming force. At Koch Arena, WSU won 68-48 and outscored the Sycamores 34-14 in the lane. Indiana State can’t make this one interesting without a better effort, especially from Gant. The Sycamores possess the size and experience to match WSU’s effort on the boards, as they showed in the Hulman Center last month. Can they do it in front of a pro-WSU crowd and can they do it playing their third game in three days?
WSU’s defense also shut down Indiana State’s outside shooting. The Sycamores made 5 of 20 threes in both games and shot under 33 percent from the field in both.
Odum beats teams in many ways, often by getting to the foul line. He averages 5.3 points a game from the line. On Saturday, he made 10 of 15 in the semifinal win over Southern Illinois. WSU has done a good job of defending without fouling. He is 4 for 4 this season against the Shockers from the line. Manny Arop has hurt the Shockers before and is a player they must defend. Sophomore Khristian Smith is on his way to becoming an All-MVC player. The Sycamores, as finishing second in the MVC indicates, are capable of making this game a challenge for longer periods than most.
Indiana State’s defense can keep Sunday’s game close. WSU shot 42.9 percent in the first game and 42.6 in the second.
Cruising the Shocker fan section at Scottrade Center in St. Louis this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice some definite trends in Shockerwear.
Ladies, you’re nobody if you don’t have one of these frilly black-n-yellow scarves. And I’m told they’re pretty easy to make.
For the menfolk, a must-have this undefeated season appears to be this fuzzy hat band. The item is inexpensive in Wichita fan shops and slips easily onto the standard ballcap, making insta-Shocker-fuzz sprout from the cranial region. And it knows no age limit. The Wu-shag is donned equally well by both seniors in college and senior citizens.
Willing to take a runway risk? The black-and-gold overalls appear to be a thing again this year, or they are for Larry Boll, who was hard to miss even in all that Shocker color.
Shocker Evan Wessel’s brother Trevor Wessel didn’t want to look like all the other Shocker fans, so he used his noggin and came up with a Shocker-themed hard-hat. This trend doesn’t appear to be catching on yet, but give it time. There’s always the NCAA tournament.
And don’t look now, but here’s Alex Carlin, a WSU junior donning a tight-fitting, bright yellow Shocker suit. WSU fans can easily transition from day-time cheering to night-time cruising in this outfit, which Carlin said he paid “a pretty penny” for on eBay.
Wichita State 67, Missouri State 42
Indiana State 62, Southern Illinois 59
MSU coach Paul Lusk and his program offer one of the best hopes for optimism in the MVC. Despite losing leading scorer Marcus Marshall to a knee injury (Jan. 11 against WSU), the Bears are 20-11 and finished fourth in the Valley. They also dealt with the repetitive injuries of senior Keith Pickens, who is healthy. And quite the inspiration. For now.
That left MSU with one four-year senior (Nathan Scheer), one two-season senior coming off knee surgery (Jarmar Gulley) and a transfer senior (Emmanuel Addo), who is suspended. Out of that, Lusk fashioned a competitive team with lots of upside.
The Shockers will enjoy a big edge in physical ability in the lane. MSU freshman Tyler McCullough is a freshman, and he played seven minutes in Friday’s win over Illinois State. In two games against WSU, he scored 10 points and picked up eight fouls, so we know how his day will likely go. Junior Christian Kirk is too small to effectively play the post against WSU’s collection of bruisers. The Shockers out-rebounded MSU 43-25 in the March 1 meeting.
Gulley and freshman Austin Ruder are the threats. Gulley, a second-team All-MVC pick, is one of the few MVC players who can do the things WSU’s Cleanthony Early can do, although he’s smaller and not as accurate from long range.
Ruder makes 42.3 percent of his threes and burned the Shockers in Springfield for five threes, many while being guarded by Ron Baker. Baker made Ruder a personal project in the rematch and he scored two points. Gulley scored 15 points in that 68-45 loss at Koch Arena and no other Bear reached double figures. If Ruder or Ron Mvouika can’t offer a second (or third) scoring option, MSU will struggle.
Mvouika is MSU’s microwave off the bench. He makes 43.9 percent of his threes. He played four minutes in the first meeting and his role increased after Marshall’s injury.
MSU makes 36.3 percent of its threes, second in the MVC. It’s not a particularly good perimeter defense team. In 18 MVC games, opponents made 37 percent of their threes.
Wichita State 80, Evansville 58
Missouri State 53, Illinois State 48
Indiana State 75, Loyola 62
Southern Illinois 63, Northern Iowa 58
Evansville 69, Drake 61
Loyola 74, Bradley 72
Tekele Cotton vs. D.J. Balentine is the Valley’s premier individual matchup. Cotton is the best defender. Balentine is the MVC’s leading scorer. Evansville will run him off screen after screen to take advantage of his quick release and soft touch.
Keeping Balentine off the foul line is crucial. He is going to get shots because that’s the way Evansville plays. He is going make many because he’s a great scorer. It’s OK to let him make 10 of 20 shots, as long as he doesn’t add 9 of 10 free throws to that total. He is 7 of 8 against WSU in two meetings this season. The Shockers will take that average of 4 a game.
Aces center Egidijus Mockevicius is a rapidly improving player who had 19 points and 10 minutes in the second meeting. Foul trouble limited him to 16 minutes in the first game. Opposing big men pick up a lot of fouls 25 feet from the basket as they attempt to guard WSU’s Fred VanVleet on screens. The Aces need 30-plus minute from Mockevicius to make this interesting. Their backups aren’t much of a factor.
In the two meetings, the only other Ace to score double figures was Blake Simmons with 12 in the second game. Although the Aces are built to get Balentine shots, he needs help from role players such as Adam Wing and Duane Gibson. Gibson is 0 for 1 from three-point range this season and backup point Jaylon Brown is 2 for 10.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall would love to put this away early so he can rest his starters in the final minutes and avoid injury.
If you are driving to St. Louis on Saturday or Sunday, avoid I-64, which will close (both directions) at 8 p.m. Friday.
According to the MVC: Alternate options to get to Scottrade Center from the west include Interstate 44, Interstate 70, and from Interstate 64 eastbound take I-170 north to Forest Park Parkway east to the Market Street exit.
Wichita State did another cover shoot for Sports Illustrated on Tuesday. SI may or may not use the photo, but the story is revealing and shows how the Shockers are handling the attention of this 31-0 season.
SI told coach Gregg Marshall to choose one player to pose with fans. Marshall asked Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Tekele Cotton to draw strings, short one gets to pose.
“As we were beginning to do that, the guys chuckled,” Marshall said. “We kind of had a hard time believing they wanted to do another cover shot. But Cleanthony says, ‘I think it should be Tekele.’ Everybody looked at him. ‘The rest of us get more hype. I don’t want to pick.’ That’s the kind of guys we’ve got.”
So, no, Marshall doesn’t worry much about this team’s time in the spotlight.
“I don’t think they could have responded any better,” he said. “It says a lot about the type kids we’ve got and Cleanthony as an individual.”
Cotton, wearing his white jersey, took the picture in Koch Arena on Tuesday morning, surrounded by Shocker fans cheering wildly.
”Nobody on our team is selfish,” he said. “People don’t mind giving up something for somebody else. We’re close enough to be able to do that.”
My apologies for the delay. I’m way behind on the Travel Channel and my goal is to catch up before St. Louis.
© 2014 Wichita Eagle & Beacon Publishing Co. All rights reserved.