Shockers pass on rewards

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.”


MVC Travel Channel: Peoria

MVC Travel Channel: Evansville

MVC Travel Channel: Cedar Falls

My apologies for the delay. I’m way behind on the Travel Channel and my goal is to catch up before St. Louis.

Indiana State


Illinois State

Missouri State

Southern Illinois

Coming Wednesday: “This is Shocker basketball”

Day After: No. 2 Wichita State 68, Missouri State 45

WSU senior Cleanthony Early scored 19 points in Saturday's win over Missouri State.

WSU senior Cleanthony Early scored 19 points in Saturday’s win over Missouri State.

Key statistics: The Shockers held the Bears to 8-of-27 shooting in the decisive first half and led by 20 points four times. For the game, WSU out-rebounded the Bears 43-25 and scored 30 of its points in the paint.

How the game turned: Cleanthony Early’s three-pointer gave WSU a 14-6 lead and started a 13-2 run that gave the Shockers control. After Early’s three, MSU’s Ron Mvouika traveled. After two missed shots by the Bears, WSU led 18-6.

Records: MSU 19-10, 9-8 MVC; WSU 31-0, 18-0

Coverage from

MVC Tournament schedule

  • Darius Carter’s emergence as a consistent scorer might be WSU’s most important factor in March. In mid-February, he began to consistently answer two questions: 1) Who can score inside and 2) who can score off the bench? The next question will be, can he score against teams with comparable size in the NCAA Tournament? Carter made 46.8 percent of his shots, reaching double figures four times, in 13 non-conference games. In 18 MVC games, he shot 58.8 percent (60 of 102) from the field and averaged 8.3 point. He scored 10 points Saturday to give him double figures in five of the past seven games. Gone are the hook shots and fadeaways that marked his early games. He is a more decisive finisher who goes to the rim when he scores and is a devastating finisher on fast breaks. It’s also encouraging that not all of his production can be linked to playing MVC schools. He had 11 points and 14 rebounds against Tennessee and 9 and 7 against Alabama. Carter’s season turned in the right direction at Northern Iowa on Feb. 8, when he made all six of his shots and scored 15 points. Since then, he’s made 28 of 40 shots and averaged 10.6 points. At UNI, Carter said he hadn’t been prepared for the physical play in the MVC. Clearly, that is no longer an issue. “It’s just a mental adjustment,” he said. “I’m used to it now. I got out every game realizing it’s going to be tough like that, and I have to be tougher than our opponent.” Carter is filling other roles – he grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots on Saturday.
  • The time off  before St. Louis is always good for bumps and bruises. This season, the relief from the mental grind of going unbeaten might be more important. “Physically, I’m a little banged up,” Carter. “We’ve got a long time before we play, so I’ll be more than ready.”
  • Some leftover milestones from Saturday: WSU set a school-record with its 31st win, mark that’s been overshadowed by so many others. WSU long ago set its record for consecutive MVC regular-season wins, previously 12 by the 1982-83 team. One record that will have to wait until next season is WSU’s home-court streak. The Shockers are at 17 straight. The record is 22, which stretched over three seasons from 1981-83.
  • WSU guard Fred VanVleet admitted the prospect of going unbeaten entered their minds in the fall. “Looking at the schedule, and ‘Man, I don’ t think we’ll lose any of these games’ and that’s just us as competitors,” he said. “And then the next sentence was ‘Well, OK, let’s take it slow and get the one that’s in front of us first.’ That’s what we do and the coaches help us keep things in perspective. They don’t treat us any differently. Maybe when they start letting us get away with stuff and pampering us, then we’ll slip up.”
  • The next loss will be a disappointing one for the Shockers. The second game of the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend will be the most pressure-packed of the season. The Shockers are aware that, as impressive as 31-0 is and will be, the label of NCAA Tournament flop would be painful to wear. “That’s the bad part about the world we live in,” VanVleet said. “We can’t even celebrate this great accomplishment. We’ve just got to keep focused and looking ahead to what we’ve got in front of us. When we’re sitting down some day we’ll think back to this as one of the greatest seasons ever played.”
  • The 8:35 p.m. game on Friday may be the best of the MVC Tournament’s first day. Third-seeded Northern Iowa has won five of six and is playing like most expected it to earlier in the season. Sixth-seeded Southern Illinois has won seven of 10 with the losses at WSU, at second-place Indiana State and at UNI.

Next up: vs. Drake or Evansville, 12:05 p.m. Friday (FSKC)

ESPN’s Saturday coverage



Your Roundhouse memories

Should the Shockers get to 31-0 today, it figures to be one of those moments fans cherish to the grave.

Others from the WU Field House/Levitt Arena/Koch Arena:














Missouri State at No. 2 Wichita State

Long-time basketball fans have seen a good chunk of college basketball history pass through the Roundhouse: Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Ralph Miller, Dave Stallworth, NCAA Tournament games (including UTEP in 1966 and Houston in 1968), Danny Manning, Xavier McDaniel, Hersey Hawkins, Henry Iba, the 1981 McDonald’s Classic (Jordan scored 30) and on.

None of those moments will pass today’s game, should the Shockers win and complete the regular season 31-0. It’s a pretty big day if they lose, as well, but you probably don’t want to contemplate that possibility.


What’s at stake Saturday in the MVC

Scott trade center

While the top and bottom of the MVC Tournament brackets are set, 32 scenarios exist for settling the middle four seeds. Here is how things look at this hour:

No. 1 Wichita State – plays at 12:05 p.m. Friday and will play the winner of the 8-9 game between Drake and Evansville (exact seeds TBA).

No. 2 Indiana State – 6 p.m. Friday vs. winner of No. 10 Loyola vs. No. 7 Bradley.

Missouri State could finish 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Northern Iowa and Illinois State could finish 3, 4 or 5.

Southern Illinois will be 5 or 6. (Out of Thursday for the first time since 2009).

WSU, assuming it wins Friday, gets the 4-5 winner in Saturday’s semifinals.

Is there a team WSU wants to avoid?

Probably not, but the bracket demands this exercise: Illinois State’s zone defense offers a challenge and the Redbirds are athletic enough to bother the Shockers a bit. Northern Iowa is playing well, winners of four of five games, including at Missouri State. The Panthers are experienced, well-schooled and good shooters. Forward Nate Buss is back from a knee injury. He did not play in WSU’s win at UNI on Feb. 8. We’ll know more about MSU’s chances on Saturday.

UNI is the team that would concern me the most, because of its experience, its three-point shooting and its foul shooting.

Saturday’s schedule:

Northern Iowa at Indiana State

Missouri State at Wichita State

Bradley at Drake

Evansville at Loyola

Illinois State at Southern Illinois