According to KenPom.com (a great site by the way) Wichita State has just over a 38% chance to finish the regular season unbeaten, if they win tomorrow at Indiana State and at Northern Iowa on Saturday those chances nearly double.
Normal roadtrip---When you’re not snowed in and can leave the day before
Usually, roadtrips are no big deal for the Shockers with everywhere in the Valley no more than an hour and a half away. Weather is always a variable, especially this time of the year; still there have been very few deviations from the plan over the years. Weather had already forced WSU to try to fly into Indianapolis instead of Terre Haute, IN yesterday, but they were stranded on the tarmac in Wichita—thus the scrambling begins.
How do the Shockers usually travel? First class. Departure is always from a private hanger at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and is usually at 5:30pm or so the night before they play. The mode of transportation is a regional jet which seats around 60, usually there’s a small group of boosters that travels with the team.
A bus is always waiting as the plane lands and the first destination is dinner, where the meal is served in a private room. Next stop is the hotel where keys are waiting, there’s very little wasted energy on these trips—everything is planned out to the minute. The team has a late film session before hitting bed; lights out is usually around 11:00pm.
The team has breakfast together the next morning before ‘shoot around’ which can be anywhere from 11:00am to 12:30pm. Shoot around is never more than an hour and consists of shooting drills specific to their positions, running shell offense and a scouting report of the opponent. Then it’s back to the hotel for lunch, then downtime before the game.
The bus leaves for the arena at around 5:30pm, the team brings everything with them as they will leave right after the game. Game time is generally 7:05pm, there’s about an hour or so of postgame after which everybody piles on to the bus for the trip to the airport. It’s rare that they return home much later that 12:30am and it can be much earlier depending on where they’re playing.
How the Shockers react to traveling on game day will be interesting, it’s a big change in their routine. The Shockers haven’t traveled on game day since Gregg Marshall’s first year at Wichita State, everything will feel condensed today and I’m not sure whether or not that will be a distraction, but it will be different.
Know one thing, the Sycamores are going to be better tonight than they were a couple of weeks ago getting blown out by twenty in Wichita. In that game the Shockers held them to just 31% shooting, their worst effort of the season and about 16 percent off their season average. More than anything in that game Wichita State simply manhandled them, it’ll be interesting to see if they can do that tomorrow in what should be a highly focused effort for the Shockers.
Indiana State is playing for their lives, both in the conference and in terms of the NCAA Tournament. They’ll be playing in front of their largest crowd of the season, all of which should serve the Shockers well. WSU needs to play in games where there’s urgency and the two they’ll play this week are the only ones to fit the bill before March.
Wichita State’s road formula is to meet and exceed the energy and effort of an opponent, by imposing their will on the glass and defensively. Gregg Marshall is always looking for ways to speed up their opponents and they do that with pressure. Indiana State scores near 80 points a game, but as Sycamore head coach Greg Lansing told me yesterday, “We don’t want to be in a hurry to do it”.
Jayhawk bounce back---
Bill Self might be the best coach in the country when it comes to making the most of teaching moments. After the loss at Texas he called his team soft and wondered whether the way they lost couldn’t be good in the grand scheme of things. Fast forward three days and they go back into Texas at Baylor and win by 17. Most impressive to me was 20 assists on 25 baskets, plus 14 on the glass and holding Baylor to 29% shooting. The 50-footer before the half notwithstanding, Andrew Wiggins may have had a so-so night, but KU looked like a team whose full attention had been on its coach.