I’ll start this off by saying that when I first started writing for this blog, the rap lyrics article and the Wichita State preview were the ones I were most excited to write. I’ve been a Wichita State fan since 2006, when they beat 10 seed Seton Hall and 2 seed Tennessee before losing to eventual Final Four participant George Mason. I found out my dad went there that year, which is weird because I was 11 and didn’t know where he went to college.
Name: Wichita State University. Don’t ask me why the state is there.
Location: Wichita, Kansas. Most populous city in the state!
Enrollment: 15,081. It’s mostly a commuter school, or at least it was in the 80s. Still is, to a degree, as only the freshmen are required to live on campus.
Conference: American Athletic Conference. I’m giving a middle finger in the direction of the No Escalators Twitter account. [Editor’s note: I think the NE blasts at Wichita are 1) funny and 2) coming from a place of honest regarding Connecticut’s exile in the AAC.] Also RIP the Missouri Valley. They had an amazing run of exciting teams and now like Missouri State is going to be a 15 seed or something.
There’s No Way That Name Doesn’t Have Hick Origins, Right? Well.......
A “shock” is a bundle of wheat. Before the fancy city folks brought machines to harvest the wheat that covers 97% of Kansas, people would cut and arrange the wheat themselves, so those people were referred to as shockers. This relates to Wichita State because
1. The majority of students would work as shockers in order to pay for college, and
2. They used to play football on wheat fields that were cut down.
I will never get tired of that origin story.
Mascot: WUSHOCK! It’s actually the creepiest mascot of all time. I dare you to google old versions of the mascot. Actually I don’t trust you. Here.
Good luck sleeping tonight.
2016-2017 Season Results: Dammit. I don’t want to do this.
They went 30-4 in the regular season. Normal. Yawn. They didn’t take advantage of a decent non conference schedule by losing to Louisville and Michigan State and then getting run out of the gym by Oklahoma State, but split with an Illinois State team that probably should’ve made the tournament and beat a halfway decent Oklahoma team. They were a 10 seed, which was a snub, but we’re used to it at this point. The problem was their corresponding 2 seed: Kentucky.
If you recall the undefeated Shocker team from 2014, they finally got the one seed they deserved but were matched with the 8 seed and eventual Badger Heartbreakers in Kentucky. The game was a masterpiece and the Shockers played as perfectly as you could ask, but Kentucky was a buzzsaw that year and pulled it out after Fred Van Vleet missed a last second three.
In the rematch last year, Landry Shamet carried the team as much as he could before missing a similar three at the buzzer. It was a cruel lesson in what’s meant to happen hardly ever happens and you should never expect good things ever. [Editor’s note: Eat at Arby’s.]
2016-2017 Final KenPom Ranking: #8. It’s almost like they’re an elite program!
Current KenPom Ranking: #4.
Head Coach: Gregg Marshall, in his 11th season with the Shockers and 20th season overall. He has a record of 264-90 at WSU and 458-173 overall. He’s also one of the 10 highest paid coaches in D-1, and cost of living isn’t very high in Wichita. He’s not going anywhere. Just wanted to say that at least once.
Key Losses: This should consist of 5 pages of LOLs since they had no seniors and 783 juniors last year, but Markis McDuffie will be out with an injury. He is an elite scorer and the team’s best, but...
Key Returners: *deep breath* Landry Shamet, Shaquille Morris, Rauno Nurger, Darral Willis, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Conner Frankamp and Austin Reaves all return with a vengeance. Shamet is coming off an injury of his own suffered during the summer, but has a shot at being an All American. He’s an absolute stud.
Oh he’s struggling to create? Just hand it off to Frankamp, who can shoot from anywhere.
Oh he’s shooting a bit too much? Bring in Reaves, the point guard of the future set to make big strides this year.
Guards have lost a step? Hand it to Nurger, a previous stretch 5 turned all around player, or throw it into Shaq Morris, who used to just be Tiny Gallon with less grace BUT IS SHOOTING THREES THIS YEAR. AND SO IS DARRAL WILLIS.
And if they can’t score for whatever reason, this team will smother you on defense. They are an insanely disciplined squad who will not allow you to breathe without permission, which they won’t give. They’re so damn good.
Don’t believe me? Look at the final 16:30 of Monday’s game against California, in which they outscored the Golden Bears 52-24. IN LESS THAN 17 MINUTES.
Points Leader: Shaquille Morris, 19.7 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Rashard Kelly, 8.7 rpg
Assists Leader: Samajae Haynes-Jones & Conner Frankamp, 4.3 apg
All Time Series: Looks likes Marquette is 4-3 overall, and one of those losses came in 1977. I’m not saying, but I’m saying.
Fun Facts: Wichita is the original home of Pizza Hut. Don’t ever say my state doesn’t have culture.
Notable Alumni: Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells; Dan & Frank Carney, the co-founders of Pizza Hut (there’s a surprise, huh?); and uh... well. Hmm. We’ve run out of non-athletes. WSU also had some pretty good teams in the early ‘80s, going to the Elite Eight with future NBA players Antoine Carr and Cillf Levingston, later adding another long time NBA player Xavier McDaniel. Also Joe Carter, who hit a walk off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Without that home run Drake never makes Back To Back. Be thankful. Professional wrestler Paul “The Big Show” Wight went to Wichita State for one year. Finally, current Kansas House of Representatives member...Tom Sawyer. I’m not even kidding. He ran for governor in 1998.
Prediction: This Shocker team is good. Like, really really good. Like, I think they’re better than the team with Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet that went undefeated over the regular season. Marquette’s getting blown out. Don’t go on a tweet-storm about how terrible the defense is based on this performance. It’s futile. Wichita State: 90, Marquette: 69, Rants from me about how good Wichita State has consistently been for the last 6 years: 8.