This is quite possibly the best video I’ve seen about Wichita State basketball. These players’ character are defined by hard work, humility and passion.
I figured you needed a break from reading all those articles written about Wichita State. So, I threw some gifs together to represent the year so far.
Learning Loyola replaced Creighton in the MVC:
Waking up after 3 hours of sleep from staying up for the Midnight tip-off against WKU for the Final Four banner drop:
When I hear Gregg Marshall’s pregame and halftime speeches to the players:
Watching Tekele lock down the best player on every team we’ve played all year:
How I imagine every fan base’s reaction to Ron Baker lighting up their team:
Dan Muller at Illinois State starting out 5-5:
How does Fred Van Vleet finish when he drives to the rim?
Hearing SIU head coach Barry Hinson call his players “mama’s boys” and that his wife can shoot better than 2 for 11 because she can do a shot fake. (Link to his epic rant):
Winning the CBE Classic in KC, starting out 11-0 and being ranked #11 in the country:
Finally, how do you handle the haters and the bandwagon fans?
You have probably heard the term “glue guy” when talking college hoops. To me, a glue guy is someone on your team who won’t have crazy stats, but has other intangibles that affect the outcomes of games. Those intangibles can range from leadership, hustle, camaraderie, knowing the system, to being a solid practice player helping your team out. Through the years, especially under Gregg Marshall, Wichita State has seen it’s share of glue guys. Off the top of my head, Wichita State glue guys under Marshall have been Demetric Williams for 12-13, Ben Smith 11-12, Aaron Ellis 10-11, and you could argue Graham Hatch for 10-11 as well. The definition of “glue guy” is subjective, so Hatch could be viewed as a glue guy even though he was a starter, based on the fact that his stats aren’t stellar, but did everything right that Marshall needed on the court.
So who is this year’s glue guy? Well I think that this year’s glue guys are Chadrack Lufile and Nick Wiggins. The two Canadian connections for Wichita State are what you’d consider swing states in a political election. Important pieces to the puzzle, if you want to win. Chadrack had a huge opportunity and role to fill this offseason. Replacing Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe is no easy task. As we near conference play, Chadrack seems to have edged out Kadeem in starting duties. However, as we know from watching Marshall basketball, the starting lineup rotates from game to game, but Chadrack has been playing lights-0ut against SLU and ORU. The opportunity for Lufile to be a consistent starter is there, and I would bet he takes full advantage of it. A lot depends on Kadeem being able to get out of his offensive slump. Either way, Lufile’s contributions to this team will continue to be a glue guy no matter what. His personality is electric, he hustles hard, he puts work in. During the off-season he asked the coaches for extra work to be a better player. If the SLU and ORU games are examples of the outcomes of his hard work, then his offseason was well spent. Over the last two games he’s averaging 24.5 MPG, 13 PPG, 0.590 FG%, 1.000% FT% (6-6), and 7.5 RPG. During the first 7 games of the year, Chadrack averaged 15 MPG, 5.71 PPG, 0.540 FG%, 0.750% FT%, and 5.14 RPG. As you can see, coach has given Lufile more minutes, and with those minutes he’s becoming more efficient, mainly in scoring, but also on the glass.
Nick Wiggins on the other hand has statistically been in a slump lately, and compared to last year, he’s not as efficient as a scorer. The disparity in the two year’s numbers is nothing to worry about though, Nick is one of the most talented players on this Shocker team. His athleticism is outrageous, and I wondered if Nick would hit his head on the lowered scoreboard this year. That’s exaggerating, but the guy gets his head above the rim, and throws down some nasty dunks. Nasty! He reminds me a lot of David Kyles, athletically gifted, can stroke it from 3, high flyer who dunks like it’s his job. Nick just needs to find the rhythm in his shot, and get one solid game of shooting behind him. He has a smooth outside shot, and the ability to dribble drive and fly high. All combinations that leave me waiting for his break out game, and it is coming. I guarantee you that. When the crowd needs to get back into a game, Nick can throw down a dunk to excite the crowd and get the homecourt advantage back in WSU’s favor. If on the road, he can provide the boom to quiet an opposing crowd. His ability to change the momentum of a game in one jump finalizes my opinion on glue guy status.
The new season is officially underway with Wichita State dominating Oklahoma Baptist 73 – 29. Every Shocker saw time on the court, and the exhibition allowed fans to see all of the new players in action. When you beat a team by 44, and hold the opponent to one field goal in the first half, there shouldn’t be much to complain about. However, like the rest of the country, Shocker fans watched a game that had just a little more tempo than paint drying. The disparity in skill-level, size and athleticism had something to do with the lack of tempo, but the majority of the blame falls on the rule changes. Their will be a steep learning curve that teams will have, adjusting to the new rules imposed by the NCAA over the off-season. I will try my best to outline the changes, and the outcomes that the NCAA expects from the updated style of play due to the rule changes.
As a kid, I remember lining up to go back into class from recess. Kids will be kids, and we’d dribble our basketballs, pass it back and forth, and occasionally try and swat the balls out of each other’s hands. The teachers would shout at us to “keep your hands to yourself.” That can sum up the new rule changes in one sentence. The biggest rule change for this year is that the NCAA officially moved hand-checking and arm-barring from a guideline, to an official violation of the rules. The NCAA also adjusted the rules to the block/charge call.
What is hand-checking?
Hand-checking is a technique used on defense to contain an offensive player. When a defender hand-checks, they put one or both hands intermittently or constantly on the player, which affects the offensive player’s ability to move. View a video of hand-checking.
What is an arm-bar?
An arm-bar is when the defensive player uses their forearm to impede movement of the offensive player, pushing against the player with the forearm. View a video of using an arm-bar.
What is considered illegal touching of an offensive player with the new rules?
Four types of illegal tactics were cited:
- Placing and keeping a hand/forearm on opponent.
- Putting two hands on opponent.
- Continually jabbing by placing hand or forearm on opponent.
- Using an arm bar to impede the progress of the dribbler.
Note that simply touching the player with the ball is not an automatic foul.
What is the intended outcome by implementing this new rule?
- Defenders will need to move their feet as opposed to using their arms/hands to negate an offensive opportunity.
- Increased emphasis will create a less physical game.
- Enhancement of freedom of movement principles and a smoother game flow.
You said something about a change to the block/charge call. What about that?
This change is a big change, but in comparison to the new rule on hand-checking, it is drastically smaller in concern. The old way of calling a charge was that the defender had to establish a legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor. The new rule states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or a pass.
NCAA Director of Officials, John Adams said that in a single game, referees make the correct decision on about 90% of all calls. However last year, the block/charge call was called correctly only 65% of the time. It’s apparent to anyone who watches basketball that the block/charge foul is one of the most disputed calls in a game. The NCAA has obviously taken attention of it as well. Basically what is going to happen is that the charge call will be nearly invisible this next season. There will be more blocks called than there already were, and it gives the advantage to the offensive player.
How do you think this will affect college basketball?
Ok, now that you know the major changes to the rules, let’s talk about how this will affect the game of college basketball. I think this is a positive for the tempo of college basketball in the long-term. The key to that sentence is “long-term.” The game is now heavily in favor of the offensive player gaining access to the hoop. The defender can no longer lead the ball-handler with his hand, he can no longer arm-bar the defender back when he’s closing space, and then there is the change to the charge/block rule. In the short-term, we will see a lot of sloppy defense and a lot of whistles. There will be a lot of ticky-tack fouls that if done in years past, would get a kudos from a defensive-minded coach. The teams that benefit from these changes, will be teams that have an up-tempo, up-and-down offense, that have superior athletes. What will also increase, will be fouls. The number of drives to the hoop will increase for teams, and trips to the line for and-one opportunities should increase. These rule changes favor teams with deep rosters who can maneuver players in and out in case they get into foul trouble.
One of the big changes I’m hoping to see though, is a more consistent tempo to games across all conferences. Consistency for the NCAA can be difficult when there are 32 leagues, 20 officiating coordinators and 838 Division I men’s basketball referees, and that is part of the reason you see such differing styles of basketball played from conference to conference. The 40 and 50 point games should disappear in the future. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the MVC fair with the new rules, since a majority like to slow it down against Wichita State.
After a head scratching loss to Evansville, Wichita State has won 4 in a row, which included a win over ranked Creighton. In those four wins, the Shockers had a margin of victory of 12 against Illinois State, 3 against Creighton, 10 against Missouri State, and 34 against Bradley. To say that Wichita State is on fire, is an understatement. I think the fire can be credited to the return of Carl Hall. The ability for this team to have Hall be the starting center, and have Orupke come in to give him a break is game changing. I don’t think teams know how to game-plan against the combination of Hall and Orupke at the center position. I can’t forget to mention the impact that Jake White has had on the rotation, especially since Hall was out with the thumb injury. Aside from the weakness of Jake’s 3 point shot this year, and a perceived problem of slow feet on the defensive end, he has played a tremendous role on this team as a bench player. In the last 5 games, he’s had highlight nights of 11 points against Illinois State and Bradley, and 10 rebounds against Evansville and 9 against Bradley.
Talking about Jake White and the job he’s done coming off the bench made me think about the depth of this team. All Gregg Marshall coached teams at Wichita State have had depth. It’s something that continually impresses me. Wichita State has guys that can come off the bench and have career nights, any given game. It’s just a matter of which player will step up. Having a roster that allows any player on any given night to blow up is what will carry a team deep into the post season. I started looking at the stats and I went immediately to season high point totals for each player. I knew this roster was deep, but the season highs for every player is impressive from the starters, all the way down the bench.
- Cleanthony Early – 39
- Carl Hall – 21
- Malcolm Armstead – 21
- Demetric Williams – 18
- Nick Wiggins – 18
- Ron Baker – 18
- Tekele Cotton – 12
- Jake White – 11
- Evan Wessel – 11
- Ehimen Orupke – 10
- Fred Van Vleet – 9
- Chadrack Lufile – 8
The thing that sticks out to me is that on top of being specialists or role players, nearly every player on this roster has the ability to get into double digits in points. The three players that I love seeing up at the top are Early, Armstead and Wiggins. All three of these guys are newcomers to this team, and only Armstead has experience from last year of at least practicing under Marshall’s system. Almost all of the JUCO players and transfers that Marshall has brought in, have had some growing pains along the way in their first season (which is completely normal). If Wiggins is scoring 18 like he did against Bradley, what is he capable of this time next year? It’s a little scary to think about the combination of Early and Wiggins with a year and a half in this system under their belt.
Individual performances are great, but these guys play like a team. The cohesion and camaraderie is something special and should only improve through the year. Wichita State has 19 wins, and it’s impressive, but how impressive? There are currently only 2 out of 347 teams in NCAA Div-1 College Basketball that have 19 wins, and they are Gonzaga and Wichita State. Gonzaga plays again this Thursday and Wichita State plays Tuesday. If the Shockers take care of business Tuesday, they will be the first team to make it to 20 wins this season. Tomorrow the rankings come out, and plenty of teams lost this week that were ranked ahead of Wichita State. The Shockers were ranked #20 last week, and my prediction is that they will be ranked #14.
When you think Top 25, you probably think of just 2 polls, the AP and US Today Coaches Poll. There are a few other rankings around the country, and a few based off of statistics only.
#14 ESPN’s BPI
#20 AP Top 25