For What it's Worth: February 20

I will never understand how a division one athlete-- who's good enough to have his college education paid for-- can commit a foul on three-point point shot.  Especially in a game when you lead by seven points with 0:37 seconds left.  Fortunately, Cleanthony Early hit two late free throws to seal the deal at Indiana State.

Shockers rallying

Four straight wins now, but back to back wins against two of the Valley's best with just one days rest in between.  That's pretty impressive stuff and with it the Shocks are just a win away over Evansville at home from clinching no worse than a tie for their second straight Valley championship. What a great job this team and staff have done bouncing back from some uncertain times, no-it hasn't been pretty-well, at least not until you read the conference standings.

Winning equation

Only twice this season have the Shockers been out rebounded-both against Indiana State.  As they did in Wichita three weeks ago the Sycamores frequently switched defenses, always packing the paint and daring WSU to shoot over them.  Which the Shockers did successfully nine times, interestingly of late, the three-ball has become an asset for WSU which is hitting 40 percent of their 3's over their last five games.  If they keep hitting at that rate defenses are going to have to account for Shocker shooters and that should loosen up WSU down low where Carl Hall can be a machine.

Good handle

Perhaps the biggest stat from last night's win at Indiana State was the Shockers nine turnovers against the 16 of the Sycamores.  That means, in a tight game, that WSU had seven more possessions to work with.  Seven more possessions to score with and, as it turns out, seven more possessions to win with.  Combine that with 75 percent free throw shooting, which produced three more points at the line in a game decided by four…and you have the winning equation.

Taking stock

Barring four straight losses to close out the season, I've got to believe that Wichita State is in the NCAA Tournament.  The win last night improved them to 9-3 against the top 110 RPI's with four of those wins coming on the road.  If you want to distill that down to the top 50-WSU is 3-0 with a road win at VCU.  The current consensus amongst bracketologist has the Shockers at a ten seed, you'd like to think that a late run could (yes, through St. Louis) could slip them under the eight line.

One man's opinion

There have been plenty of years when you look at the all-Valley team and think it couldn't match the best of other conferences, but I like my all-conference team against a lot of people:

Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton--Cleanthony Early, WSU--Colt Ryan, Evansville, Jake Odum, Indiana State-Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State.

Think about it, that's 6'9", 6'8", 6'8" across the front, with a 6'5 shooting guard in Ryan and a 6'4 point in Odum.  Those five would some games.

KU at Okie State tonight

I'm really intrigued by this game, because if KU doesn't win they, more than likely, would not be in line for a ninth straight conference championship.  Oklahoma State won in Allen Field House two and a half weeks ago because their guards owned the Jayhawks.  Between them Markel Brown, Marcus Smart and Phil Forte scored 64 points against Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford who collectively countered with 39 points.  It will be interesting to see if Bill Self can exploit an advantage his team should have inside.  It should be a great game, one that I have no feel for.
 

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