March 2, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Wichita State Shockers fans hold up signs as their team plays the Indiana State Sycamores during the second half of quarterfinals in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at the Scottrade Center. Wichita State Shockers defeated Indiana State Sycamores 72-48. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
As you've probably already heard, Oklahoma State didn't make the tournament this year. So instead of sinking into a deep post season depression, we've adopted 4 teams that we are going to follow throughout this tournament. The Shockers are the third team of four.
The folks over at Shocker Hoops were kind enough to talk to me about the team, some history, strengths, weaknesses and their upcoming NCAA Tourney game against VCU. I've seen them play a few times and they are a fun team to watch. I find it interesting that the selection committee put these two mid major powers against each other so early. Upset control at its finest. I firmly believe that the winner of this game will face Kentucky in the Sweet 16. On to the interview...
Tell me a little bit about your team.What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Who are the key players? How has your season gone?
Wichita State plays in the MVC, they won the regular season title this year, and are a senior laden team which is in the top 10 most experienced teams in the country per KenPom's calculations. This Shocker team has the best road record out of any basketball team in the last 2 years, and on top of having experience on the road, they've had tournament success. Granted it was an NIT victory last year, but any type of post season, neutral site setting, is always a plus for giving players confidence and an understanding of how post season tournaments feel.
A funny fact that some people might not know, is that our mascot is "Wu Shock" which is a bundle of wheat. It has progressed over the years to be what it is, but initially when our university needed a mascot, most of the college students worked the wheat fields during their spare time. Thus the term "Wheat Shockers" came about. Also, that was back when the university was first founded, and legend has it that "wheat shockers" was coined in 1904. There aren't anymore wheat fields around campus, it's actual an urban university in the Wichita metro.
I would say that Wichita State has lots of strengths and few weaknesses. KenPom has WSU ranked 10th and 18th in the country respectively in offensive and defensive efficiency. The team is full of seniors with post season experience, and they run an uptempo 4-1 motion offense. The goal each game is to score in transition, and pound the rock inside to either score, or pull the defense inside and then dish it out for a 3-pointer. Nearly all of the guards and forwards can shoot the 3 well, and our 7 foot Senior Center, Garrett Stutz will occasionally drain a 3 if you leave him open. On defense, the Shockers are brutal to play against. All of the players are long and lean with quickness to boot. On top of all starters being solid defenders, the Shox have the ability to go to the bench and pull out another 7 footer, Ehimen Orukpe is from Nigeria and is a defensive beast. Another bench player who is a defensive specialist would be Tekele Cotton who is a freshman out of Georgia.
If I had to list a weakness that bothers me the most, it would be that if WSU isn't having a good shooting night, it can be very frustrating to watch. The in and out movement of the ball helps open shots up, so typically the open looks are there, and there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a wide open man miss his shot. Luckily for this team, the bad shooting nights have been rare this season.
So what does a typical starting lineup look like?
A typical starting line up would look like this: Sr. Joe Ragland at PG, Jr. Demetric Williams at SG, Sr. Toure Murry at SF, Sr. Ben Smith at PF, and then Sr. Garrett Stutz at C. On top of those 5 players typically starting, Wichita State has Sr. David Kyles who plays SG, Jr. Carl Hall at PF, and then limited minutes from Jr. Ehimen Orukpe at Center, and Fr. Tekele Cotton at PG or SG. The best thing about the lineup, and recent teams from Wichita State would be the selfless play by all involved. On any given night, the 7 players listed in the beginning, can have 20+ point nights. There isn't one player on this team that is a true standout like most teams, and like most mid-major programs who have one phenomenal NBA prospect. This team is built for tournament play, and it will be disappointing to see anything but a deep run from this senior class. If I had to name a couple players for you to pay attention to, I would say Joe Ragland, Toure Murry, and Garrett Stutz. All 3 of those players have been playing lights out this year. Ragland scored 31 against UNLV earlier this season.
How far do you have the Shockers going? For the record, I always took OSU to the Final Four..
It's nice to know that you always had the Pokes going to the Final Four, but in my bracket I have WSU winning it all. Call me a homer, I am. I don't think it's too far to stretch the fact that WSU does have a good chance at going deep in this tournament, and if the basketball god's shine their light upon the path that the Shockers have to take, it could make or break their path to the Final Four. I think VCU will be a hard match up, and a round of 32 match up with most likely Indiana is going to be tough as well. However, Indiana's PG just tore his ACL, so it's not the same Indiana team that people know. At the top you have Kentucky, Iowa State and UConn. I think UConn will beat ISU, and play Kentucky in the round of 32. I think that Kentucky has some match up problems with UConn, because UConn actually has the level of athletes that can go toe to toe with Kentucky. If UConn can pull the upset, I think that would open up WSU with the possibility to beat UConn. They are a pretty poor team at defending the 3 pointer, and WSU shoots it well. If WSU were to pull Kentucky in the Sweet 16, I think it could be the end of the line, but it's March and anything can happen. Kentucky is definitely the biggest glaring problem with the bracket if the Shox get that far. But for now, I'm just ready for this team to avenge it's loss to VCU last year.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us! Anything else you'd like to add?
Just that it was nice of your site and fans to adopt the Shockers, and hopefully Pokes around the country and in Oklahoma will be rooting for their lesser known border school, Wichita State. If you like uptempo basketball, be prepared to be entertained, the Shox can put up points fast.
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