Some seasons are so good that they leave an almost impossible standard for the next. It is always good to aspire for great things, but how does Wichita State improve upon an undefeated season and a deep NCAA tournament run?
The only answer would be to win a national championship. However, that is hard to do when you lose your best player to the NBA. Senior forward Cleanthony Early led the Shockers in both PPG (15.8) and RPG (5.9). Early is an extremely difficult player to guard for most teams because of his combination of speed and length. He has guard skills, he can shoot, and he has room to improve his rebounding numbers to a much higher level.
WSU has phenomenal players in Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet, but neither is capable of what Early can do. His ability to get to the rim (and foul line) is something a freshman or underclassman will not be able to replicate. Tekele Cotton is an excellent defender and is an underrated scorer, but he is also no Early. Cotton is a good slasher and shooter, but his real talent is his passing ability (3.1 APG).
Like most undefeated seasons, there was a little bit of luck involved in WSU’s perfect regular season, and some things just happened to fall the Shockers’ way. The team this year wasn’t as good as last year’s Final Four team, but because the rest of the MVC had regressed so much, it made WSU’s road to perfection much more likely.
The Wheat Shockers will win the MVC once again in 2013-14, but they will not go undefeated for a second consecutive year.