Armstead steering WSU’s well-oiled machine
by Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — Malcolm Armstead spent the NCAA tournament last year watching his team from Wichita, working while he sat out the year.
A transfer guard from the University of Oregon, Armstead had taken a circuitous path to Wichita State, one that included him paying his own way and working a job as the Shockers finished 27-6 and with a loss to Virginia Commonwealth in their first NCAA tournament game.
Although the Shockers were on the road – in the tournament or otherwise – Armstead was often at Lubbers, a car dealership where he detailed vehicles, changed oil and rotated tires.
Fast-forward a year, and Armstead has helped lead ninth-seeded Wichita State to its first Final Four since 1965 and second in school history. The Shockers (30-8) face Louisville (32-5), the top overall seed, at the Georgia Dome in the first national semifinal Saturday at 6:09 p.m.
Armstead’s journey has taken him from junior college to the Pac-12 and to midmajor Wichita State, where the senior has seen the reward for his sacrifice a year ago.
“I had to (work) to be able to stay in school and be able to be here this year. I looked at the big picture, tried to stay focused,” he said Friday at the Georgia World Congress Center. “I had to look at the long run and how it was going to be my source of income.”
After Armstead’s run through the tournament, basketball could be. He was named the most outstanding player in the West Regional last weekend, leading WSU to wins against No. 1-seeded Gonzaga in the Round of 32 and a win against No. 2 Ohio State in the regional final.
He’s averaged 13 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.75 assists and two steals a game in the tournament.
“If we don’t have Malcolm Armstead this year, we’re not sitting here talking about the Final Four,” said coach Gregg Marshall. “Maybe not the NCAA tournament.”
Armstead started his career at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., where he played for now-Wichita State assistant coach Greg Heiar.
In the Shockers’ locker room in the Georgia Dome on Friday, Heiar remembered Armstead as a little overweight at … [For more on Former oil-changer Armstead steering WSU's well-oiled machine, click here.]