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In his inspirational, televised pregame speeches, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has repeatedly told his team to “play angry”. The No. 9 Shockers did just that in the Elite Eight, showing innate toughness and a refusal to back down in a 70-66 upset of No. 2 seed Ohio State.
Wichita State’s physical play and ability to absorb punishment from a bigger team had fans on social media buzzing.
Carl Hall (eight points, six blocked shots) got decked by this painful-looking DeShaun Thomas elbow to the jaw early on [click the image to put it in motion], but didn’t miss a minute of play as a result.
Cleanthony Early went down with what board-certified arthroscopic surgeon* Reggie Miller speculatively diagnosed as an “achilles tear” but returned to the floor to finish out a 12 point, seven rebound, two block game.
The game looked like a laugher in Wichita State’s favor for roughly 30 minutes, until Ohio State mounted a furious comeback in the latter stages of the second half. WSU’s miscues and lack of poise during that stretch prompted fan comparisons to Kansas’ Sweet Sixteen flameout to Michigan from the day before. In the end, however, the Shocker backcourt weathered Big Ten pressure and closed out the victory by drawing fouls and getting to the line. Point guard Malcolm Armstead, an Oregon transfer, had an excellent game, scoring 14 points to go with seven boards, three assists and three steals.
Gregg Marshall’s coaching stock has just begun to heat up. This Final Four for the Shockers marks the first time a Missouri Valley program has gone to the last weekend since Larry Bird and the 1979 Indiana State Sycamores. Expect to see plenty of people in black and gold trying to figure out which Peachtree they need to turn right on in Atlanta this time next week.
*Reggie Miller is an announcer and former NBA player with no known medical training. Something he may want to bear in mind in the future.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.