WSU puts perfect record on the line in NCAA tourney

Published On: Mar 20 2014 06:23:05 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 20 2014 09:52:29 PM CDT
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -

When Wichita State ran to the Final Four last year, the Shockers were national darlings and a Cinderella that continued to sneak up on people.

This year's tournament will be a complete flip from a year ago even though there are still doubters out there.

"I think last year we flew under the radar with people underestimating how good we can be, you know," Wichita State senior Cleanthony Early said. "I think this year we are over that radar, but there are obviously still people who underestimate what we can do compared to certain competition."

The key for the Shockers this tournament is continuing with the 'Play Angry' mantra and not worry about the undefeated streak or gaudy seed.

"We have the same mindset. The seeding and everything doesn't have anything to do with how we are taking our approach," Wichita State sophomore Fred VanVleet said. "It is still us against the world and we are still hungry, still being the hunters and not allowing ourselves to be hunted."

One change for the Shockers this year will be the opponents. Nobody is going to let the Shockers sneak up on them.

"We'll have a lot more teams' respect from the jump before they even get to the scouting report. I think last year it took a lot of teams to actually watch us or even until the game started to have the full respect and we'll have that in advance now. So it's just another challenge that we're looking forward to," VanVleet said.

That mentality from the opponents is not dissimilar from any night in the Valley this season, especially on the road when every school turned out in full force to cheer against the Shockers.

"Every game this year, whoever we've played, they have been playing a team that had been to the Final Four just last year. So they're amped to play us and they want to win. And they are ready to party, especially when we're on the road," Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. "They're ready to start a Mardi Gras as soon as the horn sounds and they are one point ahead. We were able to deal with that all year long because of the confidence and the inner calm these young players have."

Wichita State will put its perfect record on the line against Cal Poly at 6:10 p.m. on Friday in St. Louis.