In the aftermath of their run to the 2013 Final Four, many wondered what Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers would do for an encore. While they lost guard Malcolm Armstead from last season’s group many of the other key contributors returned, and to this point in the season those returnees have strung together 21 consecutive victories with their 78-61 win at Drake being the most recent.
Cleanthony Early led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds and as a team the Shockers shot 52.7% from the field, their best offensive performance since shooting 60% in a win over Southern Illinois in their Missouri Valley opener. Why were they able to shoot so well? The Shockers attacked the paint, scoring 32 of their 78 points in the painted area while also shooting 13-for-15 from the foul line.
Wichita State won comfortably in spite of a quiet night from point guard Fred Van Vleet, who shot 2-for-6 from the field and scored nine points to go along with five assists. However given the number of options at Marshall’s disposal, not to mention a stingy defense that ranks among the nation’s best, Wichita State can endure a quiet night from one of its best players. Wichita State scored 24 points off of 13 Drake turnovers, and when they’re allowed to convert those opportunities at that rate it’s incredibly difficult to beat the Shockers.
For some the news that Wichita State keeps on winning won’t move the meter, with the “reason” being that their conference isn’t as widely acclaimed as some other leagues that receive incredible amounts of attention. But to immediately dismiss Wichita State for that reason would be a mistake, as the Shockers are undoubtedly worthy of their lofty ranking.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
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.