Is Wichita State the best mid-major?
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the fifth edition of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to ensure that readers won’t have to wait until March to know who C.J. McCollum is.
Team of the Week: Wichita State
Wichita State fifth-year coach Gregg Marshall is already bitter at the beginning of an interview.
“Can we get in your rankings or what?” he asks, with a slight chuckle.
Marshall really doesn’t care or need to ask about rankings, with his Shockers left out of USA TODAY Sports’ coaches poll for a second straight week while ranked No. 23 in the AP poll.
The truth is no one, including Marshall, expected Wichita State to be in any top 25 discussion this season at all. Marshall lost four starters who led the Shockers to an NIT title in 2011 and a regular season MVC title last season.
Yet Marshall doesn’t seem all that surprised that his unproven cast has dashed out to a 9-0 start and is making a case as one of the top mid-major teams in the country in the process.
“People keeps asking me, ‘how do these guys pull it off?’ Well, they have pride,” Marshall tells USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview.
“I think it has to do with culture, but I also think it has to do with the character of guys we recruit. You don’t read about our guys in the news. If there’s a high school player who has a little bit of trouble and there’s a player who isn’t as talented but will work hard, who do you think I’m going to get? All of our guys work hard and they buy into the system, they’re not selfish.”
Marshall’s new group includes a diverse mix with senior veteran Carl Hall (13. 1 points, 7.4 rebounds per game), junior college transfer Cleanthony Early (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead (7.9 points, 3.4 assists per game) meshing with backcourt players senior Demetric Williams and freshman Ron Baker, who combine for close to 15 points a game.
Where Wichita State would be seeded in the NCAAs if the season … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Is Wichita State the best mid-major?, click here.]