The Wichita State Shockers don’t like to be referred to as a Cinderella squad. Their “play angry” mentality has helped guide them on a magical run here in 2013 and head coach Gregg Marshall has Wichita State just two wins shy of a National Championship.
A season ago, Wichita State earned a No. 5 seed within the NCAA Tournament. Their terrific season however, was one and done in the postseason and heading into the 2012-13 season, Marshall was unsure of what type of lineup he would have.
Well, look at the Shockers now — three of their top four scorers are newcomers.
Heading into this season, Wichita State needed to replace four starters and their top five leading scorers overall. It wasn’t an easy task and even so, the Shockers still didn’t have this type of hype entering this NCAA Tournament. Yet, here they are — in Atlanta — making a run at a national championship.
JUCO transfer Cleanthony Early has burst onto the scene in Wichita, leading the team in scoring this season. Malcolm Armstead is in his first season with the Shockers after transferring from Oregon and becoming eligible immediately. Freshman Ron Baker has been just another bright spot for Wichita State here in 2012-13. It’s the collection of newcomers that have mixed so well with guys like Carl Hall and Tekele Cotton.
It’s never easy to replace what Wichita State has, let alone build off it with your school’s first Final Four appearance since 1965. It’s remarkable the work that Marshall has put in since the Shockers’ season came to an end a season ago.
Wichita State has proven that they belong, but we will see just what they have for the red-hot Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS