The debate about whether or not Wichita State is “for real” or “legit”, whether they’re a National Title contender or even a realistic pick to make the Final Four is tired at this point.
They won’t play again until Selection Sunday. We will find out soon enough, and whatever ends up happening, it will be used as a referendum, a chance for people on either side of the debate to declare victory.
But at this point, that doesn’t even matter to me, especially not when determining National Coach of the Year. Gregg Marshall just did something that hasn’t been done in 23 years: lead his team into the NCAA tournament without a single loss on their resume. That’s incredible.
Let’s get beyond the x’s-and-o’s for a second. Let’s move past the fact that his teams run terrific sets offensively and are a pair in the you-know-what to try to score on defensively. That’s all terrific, but the real measure of the job that Marshall has done coaching the Shockers this season is that this team never slipped up, never over-looked an opponent and has yet to buckle under the pressure of chasing history.
Think about it like this: Syracuse lost to Boston College at home. Duke lost at Wake Forest. Kansas lost at TCU last season. Good teams lose games to bad teams all this time. They overlook opponents. They get too cocky. They choke under pressure.
That’s never happened with this Wichita State team.
And while much of that has to do with the fact that A) they have the confidence of a team coming off of a Final Four run and B) their back court of Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet never appear to get rattled, but it would be foolish not to factor the leadership of Marshall into that equation.
So while Steve Fisher, Jay Wright, Larry Brown, John Beilein, Bill Self, Greg McDermott and Tony Bennett all deserve praise — and a raise — for the jobs they did this year, Marshall is the easy pick for National Coach of the Year.