The pre-game chant of ‘overrated’ by the Drake student section was a little ... ill-timed. I mean, BEFORE a game?  It turns out that was one of the last things they had to say all night.

“Blackjack, now we’re home for two" ...

That was Gregg Marshall’s take on improving to 21-oh at Drake, where his club played with dominating consistency.  The top Shock wanted to take away any hope that the Bulldogs and their largest crowd of the season had and by the time half rolled around the Knapp Center had all the energy of an overstuffed sit in.  

Some of it had to do with the team they were playing, some of it had to do with their urgency, but this was easily the most complete of the seven road wins so far this season for Wichita State.

What a week ...

No one seems to embrace the road quite like Cleanthony Early who’s averaging over 21 points in seven trips, the senior hit 9 of 13 three-pointers at Illinois State and Drake last week.  Early still poses on occasion - his first half effort at a high swooping one handed rebound that he ended up turning over was unnecessary - and he still takes time off on the defensive end, but what a dynamic offensive talent.

At a mobile 6’8” he presents such a tough matchup especially in the Valley where there aren’t any guys with his size or skill set.  He simply shoots over a smaller defender from beyond the arch and when a bigger guy ventures out on him he goes to the basket.  Early had two really nice, old fashioned, three point plays last night to go along with the three he fired in from deep, that’s 15 points on five possessions—talk about efficiency.

Wow ...

Tekele Cotton has had two rim rockers making headlines this week, but you can bet the shutdown effort he had against Richard Carter last night was even more meaningful to him.  Drake’s leading scorer was hounded into just six points, nearly twelve under his season’s average.

Des Moines calling ...

Nick Wiggins had his best night of last season at Drake scoring 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench, last night he had 11 points.  Wiggins isn’t thinking about permanent residency in Iowa, but he did profess his love for the loose rims at the Knapp Center.  All kidding aside, Wiggins is an important piece of the puzzle on the Shocker bench, it was good to see him play well last night.

Back on the beam ...

Any lingering effects of a sprained ankle are, at least, manageable for Ron Baker whose averaging 15 points over his last three games.  I don’t get to zero in on it very often, but it’s really fun to watch Baker move without the ball.  At a strong 6’3”, he’s hard enough to guard—that he makes some poor sap chase him around all night, rubbing him off screens makes him even tougher to handle.

All three of the Shocker guards are great targets for the isolated camera. Along with Baker,  Fred Van Vleet is so masterful with his changes of speed, his ability to dish and using his body to create contact at the rim without losing his shot.  Cotton, when he’s not dunking on the Top Ten of Sportscenter is that wonderfully frustrating defender.  All three are so tough and so calm as Drake coach Ray Giacolleti said last night, “they never splinter”.

For the first time ...

For the first time this season, the change in the perception of the Shocker brand was apparent.  I can’t tell you how many times I was stopped by the locals in Des Moines who were practically gushing over the Shockers. With their reputation and ranking preceding them - wherever they go now people stop and take notice, asking for pictures, engaging them about the Final Four and how they’ve backed it up this season.  The Shockers have handled all of the external hype really well so far this season, how will they react as that hype gets more in their face?

Playing with the polls ...

Fans love lists and I’ve talked to a bunch who want to know where the Shockers will be ranked tomorrow.  We’re a long way from finished, but it’s interesting to me that ESPN guru Joe Lunardi has both KU and Wichita State on the top line as number one seeds in Bracketology.

As far as the polls go ...

Florida, Kansas and Michigan are the movers. Yes, Michigan State and Villanova both lost in front of the Shockers and while you would bet they’ll be number three tomorrow, don’t be surprised if Florida, riding a blowout of Tennessee and with 11 straight wins, doesn’t get a nice boost.  Voters might be hesitant to jump Kansas over a San Diego State team which beat them in Lawrence, but the Jayhawks did open Big 12 play winning five in a row against ranked competition. Michigan isn’t a factor yet, but with nine straight wins including back to back top ten efforts against Iowa and Michigan State—they’re coming.  Best guess on the Shocks tomorrow—number 4 in the Associated Press, third in the coach’s poll.