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Gritty Wichita State is hungry
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 5, 2013 @ 1:00 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
WICHITA, KAN. — Throughout what was widely viewed as a rebuilding season for Wichita State, coach Gregg Marshall’s wife Lynn remained steadfast in one belief: No team in her husband’s 15 seasons as a Division I head coach ever embodied his persona more than this one.
With several players who took meandering, pot-hole laden paths to Wichita State, Marshall assembled a team befitting a former 6-foot-2 high school point guard so slender (145 pounds) that “if I turned sideways, you could not see me.” What he lacked in talent he made up for in grit – playing angry – getting two teeth knocked out and breaking his nose twice, toughened he said, because he “did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth.”
“So those guys can make it,” Marshall says. “It takes a long time. It’s certainly not an overnight deal, but you believe in yourself. And you surround yourself with other success-driven people and make good choices, really good things can happen.”
The ninth-seeded Shockers, the longest of long shots in this season’s Final Four, are no Cinderella story – not when they board chartered flights to road games and have won no fewer than 25 games the past four seasons. But in Wichita this week, where a woman braved near freezing temperatures to sell Final Four T-shirts on a corner adjacent to Charles Koch Arena, a motley crew of Final Four-bound players stood in stark contrast to the one-and-done stars fans are accustomed to watching at some successful programs.
Marshall, who is in his sixth season at the Missouri Valley Conference school, is quick to note all the success Wichita State has achieved despite landing just one top 100 prospect. His roster includes an ideal blend of the overlooked and underexposed, including several former junior college players who, Marshall says, did not exactly enjoy “the lifestyles of the rich and famous from a college basketball standpoint.”
The Shockers are making their first Final Four appearance since 1965 despite returning players who accounted for just 22.7 of the 77.1 points the team averaged per game this season. They will take on … [For more on Gritty Wichita State makes up for lack of talent with hunger, click here.]
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