You have to have a ball to play hoops, but many times you need a pair to win.
The day after---
My neck is still sore after all the head shaking I did last night at Missouri State. It started when the Bears started raining down shots and continued through a second half when the Shockers started mounting a comeback from 19 down with 11:48 left. It takes more than confidence to rally from that kind of deficit on the road, especially against a capable team. What Wichita State showed last night was an unwavering belief in themselves and the total unwillingness to accept failure with the swagger and talent to pull it off.
How’d they do it?---
It was huge for Wichita State getting to the bonus as quickly as they did in the second half as they scored 19 of their 48 points in the second half and into overtime with the clock stopped at the free throw line. The Shockers were actually outscored from the field by 17 points, but they were 20 better from the line and that was the difference. The crazy thing about the comeback is that the Shockers actually shot worse in the second half than they did in the first and worse in the overtime than in the second. Beyond knocking down free throws, WSU clamped down defensively, holding Missouri State to just 24 percent after the half.
Get used to it---
As Gregg Marshall pointed out afterwards---there are going to be games like last night…well, not exactly like last night, but games when Wichita State has to fend off another team’s best effort on a night when things aren’t going well for them. The Valley road is tough, even when it doesn’t look like there are that many good teams. Games in this league are always physical, just as it was last night when the Shockers played without fouling by Missouri State did not. Even if the Shockers weren’t the team to beat they’d still be the team that others loved to beat.
Why the hate?
Hate is too strong a word, no one likes a favorite especially one that many think will run unbeaten through the Valley. Beyond that, Gregg Marshall is an outspoken guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s confident and brash, an easy target for opposing fans—not that he minds in the slightest. Marshall is the kind of guy who’d play you anywhere at any time and his team is shaped in his image. One Shocker told me last night that he almost prefers to play on the road because he loves to “rip the hearts from opposing fans”, that’s the kind of attitude you have to have to win on the road and no one does it better than Wichita State.
Bradley at home on Tuesday should provide win number 18 and set up next weekend’s showdown with Indiana State. I guess it’s a showdown, the Sycamores are the only other unbeaten in Valley play, but it’s hard to imagine the Shocks being anything less than a double digit favorite for that one. It’s interesting that no one is talking about how the Shockers fell behind by 19 in the second half last night…they’re only talking about the toughness of the comeback-- I’ll bet Marshall bangs both in film this week, because he knows going through it once will help him avoid going through it again.