After a grueling battle this morning Wichita State is still undefeated. They are presently at 32-0, with no signs of stopping. However, they were not everyone’s favorite to win in today’s game against Evansville Aces. This quarterfinals display has proven to be a clear statement made to the Shockers opponents. They will not be taken lightly in the least bit. When Ron Baker, Fred Vanvleet, and Cleanthony Early get hot this team is hard to stop. In this game alone the three of them combined for a total of 43-points.
This is a very unselfish team that plays well under pressure and Evansville could not tell if they were shaken. Their ability to hold it together is apart of why there are so successful. Baker and Vanvleet both put up 17-points a piece and averaged over 50 percent shooting. In the second half the Shockers went on a 17- 5 run then they established a 40- 27 lead. That run was sparked by a 4-point play by Early and followed by a dominant effort from Baker. They shared the ball so fluently on each ends of the court keeping every player involved. In fact, four out of the five starters were in double figures, and the bench contributed as well.
Wichita State came on the court and not only put up 80 points, but they had a commanding 11 blocks total. The 11 blocks just so happened to be a tournament record. That is not so bad for a team who has not ranked this high since 1982; when they were ranked number 2 also. They are so close to besting their past shortcomings in this tournament. Last year they fell short by two wins in the Final Four. Nevertheless, they determined to not let that same thing happen again. The Shockers are still undefeated and deserve the number one spot.
With all the hype surrounding the undefeated Shockers and this win has people singing there praises. One of the first to commend the amazing ball club was their coach Gregg Marshall. When questioned about his team he said he loves how they handle business and keep focused. He continued to say how locked in they are on every challenge, and that contributes to the 32 game winning steak.
Baker has very high hopes for this team and their progress throughout the tournament. He says if they keep playing the way they are playing he likes their chances. Everyone will wait and see if Wichita State will have what it takes to handle the Missouri State – Illinois State winner in the semifinals.
As the tournament continues on Saturday there will be another test for the Wichita State players. Every game is a challenge to hold on to everything at stake. If they win two more games they will tie the NCAA record for 34-wins. However, at the end of it all the undefeated Wichita State Shockers plan to shock the world. It is their greatest intention to retain what was taken from them a year prior. This resilient squad has come so far, and still has a way to go before they hoist that trophy. Yet, no one questions they can get the coveted prize, because the 32- 0 records speaks for itself.
Commentary by Schelett Rickenbacker