No. 19 Wichita State may very well be the hottest team in the country right now.
Heading into their Saturday afternoon date with Drake, the Shockers had lost just a single game in the 2012 calender year, a triple-overtime defeat to the Bulldogs on the road. I think its safe to say that Wichita State avenged that loss, and they manhandled Drake in Charles Koch Arena 81-58.
It completed what was a thoroughly dominating performance in a very good Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers went 16-2 in the league, winning 16 of the last 17 games and taking home the league title by two games.
What’s more impressive is that they have been playing their best basketball of late. They have won their last six games by an average of 20.7 ppg. The worst team they have beaten in that stretch is currently sitting at 8-9 in the Valley. Included in that stretch is a 21 point win at Creighton and a 17 point win at a good Davidson team in BracketBusters play.
The scariest part?
“We haven’t played our best ball yet.”
That’s a quote from Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, and it makes you think: what happens when this team does start playing their best ball? How much better can they get?
The Shockers are balanced offensively, they are scoring the ball as well and as quickly as they have under Marshall and they are still playing an elite level of defense. Throw in the fact that they have plenty of size inside, a number of terrific three point shooters and the most experience of any team with a chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and you get an idea of why every analyst in the country is telling you to keep an eye on this team in the NCAA Tournament.
If they do make a run, don’t call them a cinderella.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.