The Shockers are 19-2, where will they be ranked?

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.

  1. Cleanthony Early – 39
  2. Carl Hall – 21
  3. Malcolm Armstead – 21
  4. Demetric Williams – 18
  5. Nick Wiggins – 18
  6. Ron Baker – 18
  7. Tekele Cotton – 12
  8. Jake White – 11
  9. Evan Wessel – 11
  10. Ehimen Orupke – 10
  11. Fred Van Vleet – 9
  12. 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.