All-Valley all Shockers
I didn’t get a vote for the All-Missouri Valley Conference team, but if I had I would have put all four of the Shocker mainstays on the first team. Three of them were, but I liked Tekele Cotton as well as Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early. Call me a glutton, call me a homer---but Wichita State was so dominant in this league so why not. Keep Evansville’s DJ Balentine and ship Seth Tuttle of UNI and Indiana State’s Jake Odom to the second team.
By the way, it’s the first time in since the Memphis Tigers reached the national final in 1973 that the Valley has had three players from the same team on its first unit. It’s also the first time that three players from the same team went 1-2-3 in the voting, in fact, four Shockers received 87 of the possible 108 votes for Player of the Year.
It was pretty obvious over the last couple of weeks that Van Vleet was going to win the Larry Bird Trophy given to the conference’s player of the year. All season long opposing coaches raved about the Shockers collectively, but when it was time to pass out individual kudos it was always Van Vleet who got the love for his particular abilities and unshakeable demeanor. He joins Creighton’s Doug McDermott as the only sophomore to win the award.
Tekele Cotton went from not even being on the Valley’s all-defensive team a year ago, to captaining it this season. Tomorrow, Gregg Marshall is a slam dunk favorite to win Valley Coach of the Year for a third straight season. All in all—a pretty impressive haul.
Did you notice that all but 4 of the top 16 picks for All-Valley were guards? That’s one the reasons Wichita State’s three man rotation in the middle was so effective in this league. Nine of the sixteen players listed on three teams were underclassman; Wichita State has three of them, nobody else has more than one. In other words, the Shockers will be prohibitive favorites in the conference again next year.
The early, early line
If the game were to be played today on a neutral floor Vegas says that KU would be a two point favorite over Wichita State. Of course, if that game were to happen it would be very late in the tournament five or even (perish the thought) six games in. A lot can change in the month before that game would be played so who knows what the line would be were they to play then. Besides, the best bet is that one of the two or neither makes it that far.
Bill Self continues to look for the right mix with his ball club; he’s essentially give Joel Embiid a week off and maybe more with a sore back, he has an erratic point guard who spooks far too easily and he still doesn’t seem to know what his team hangs its hat on. It’s the longest into a season I’ve seen Self have this problem, but he still has one of the nation’s most talented teams one that no one wants to see in March. The difference now is that KU is feared for what they might still become instead of what they already are.
It’s a good thing they don’t count as road games---
Unless it’s TCU or Texas Tech Kansas State doesn’t seem to be able to win on the road. So it’s a good thing that the NCAA Tournament is played at neutral sights. When K-State defends they have a chance, when they don’t-- 16 point blowouts at Oklahoma State can happen. Defense and rebounding are absolute bare minimums for a team that’s so offensively challenged.
Considering how young K-State is and how heavily Bruce Weber counts on that youth, it’s not surprising that they’ve been so inconsistent. Heck, KU has similar issues; it’s just that they have more talent. It’s hard to see a scenario where K-State makes a deep run into March, but they can certainly be the type of team, in one game, that keeps someone else of that description from doing so.