Tad Boyle calls the six years he spent in Wichita as an assistant to Mark Turgeon, some of the best of his basketball life. None of which will have anything to do with his trying to pound the Shockers as play opens Thursday in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Now the head coach at Colorado, Boyle got a front seat view of the Shockers in the Final Four of the NIT last year. In fact, his Buffs came within a few points against Alabama of meeting Wichita St. in the title game. Gone are Alec Burks and Corey Higgins and the 36 points that they averaged. Colorado makes the shift to the Pac-12 with a relatively inexperienced team, they’re picked 10th in the conference.
The Shockers are coming off a 85-57 win over Charleston Southern in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated. Gregg Marshall’s team smothered the Bucs with defense and lead by as many 44 points and that was without scoring contributions from Garrett Stutz or Joe Raglund.
It’ll be interesting to see how Marshall uses his depth in Puerto Rico. Only one player saw more than 20 minutes in the win over Southern. Much will depend on the health of Toure Murry who played only 12 minutes in the opener as he continues to recover from the effects of a hard fall on his side during the club’s intra-squad scrimmage three weeks ago.
WSU and Colorado are joined by Alabama and Maryland on their side of a stacked bracket. ‘Bama is nationally ranked and Maryland is coached by former Wichita State head coach Mark Turgeon. The Terps also have former Kansas State recruiting whiz Delonte Hill on staff. Purdue(coached by former Southern Illinois coach Matt Painter) is joined by Temple, Iona and a highly regarded Western Michigan team on the other side of the bracket.
The Shockers are 7-2 against programs from the BCS over the last two years and currently sport a six game win streak over schools from the major conferences. Wichita State will face either Maryland or Alabama on Friday, with a Sunday game against a yet to be determined opponent. WSU returns home to face UAB at Intrust Bank Arena the day after Thanksgiving.