One theory in sportswriting is that the smaller the ball, the better the books that are written about that sport. More good books, the thinking goes, are written about golf than basketball and there are no good books about exercise balls.
Wichita State golfer Tyler Gann is putting his game in the hands of some of those authors in an effort to relax on the course. Bob Rotella wrote “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect,” where he tells golfers to have fun and focus on each shot. David L. Cook wrote “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia,” and his mantra is “See, Feel, Trust.”
Gann, a senior from Houston, puts a lot of pressure on himself, especially this fall. He wants to win a tournament in college. He wants to play professionally.
“Nothing was really clicking for me,” he said. “I wasn’t finishing my rounds well and it seemed like I was shooting about as high a score as I could every time. I’m just trying to work on not caring so much and not being so hard on myself.”
Gann finished the fall on a positive note when he tied for 12th last week in the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate in Las Cruces, N.M. After a first-round 74, he carded a 70 and a 68 to help the Shockers win the team title by nine strokes over UNLV. It wasn’t easy for him to not worry over every shot, but he believes he made progress.
“It’s hard to trust, because you’re so used to doing it one way for so long, trying so hard,” he said. “It felt pretty good to play pretty decent, knowing I handled my emotions rather than kind of getting more upset and playing mediocre.”
Gann’s enjoyed plenty of success as a Shocker. Medalist honors, however, elude him. He tied for first in the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference Championship, but lost in a one-hole playoff to Drake’s Cody Schweinefus. He finished second in the 2010 Shocker Classic behind teammate Dustin Garza.
“I’ve been close, and that’s something I’ve had scratching at me,” he said. “I’m going to have to be ready for the next level as soon as I leave here.”
WSU also closed the fall with a good feeling by winning in New Mexico. The Shockers, who have won five straight MVC titles, won three of their five fall tournaments. Finishing sixth in a tough field in California in their previous outing disappointed them and they wanted to rebound against another strong field in New Mexico.
“The guys put an emphasis on this last tournament that we wanted to finish strong,” Gann said. “We wanted to go out there and make a statement. We have seven guys who we know can play with the best of them, whether the rankings say we can or not.”
Cut — Opponent-specific pregame videos offer entertaining possibilities for home crowds.
Can you imagine basketball coach Gregg Marshall talking about Creighton 90 seconds before tip? Or baseball coach Gene Stephenson breaking down Oklahoma State?
Don’t count on it after Friday’s video before WSU’s volleyball match against Northern Iowa. The marketing production seemed to take everybody off guard. It featured Shockers talking about the importance of beating UNI, a team that won its 10th straight match against WSU. The Shockers didn’t say anything inflammatory, but the video clearly caught the attention of the Panthers, who watched and smiled from their bench.
WSU coach Chris Lamb said the video surprised him.
“I have no idea where that came from,” he said. “I thought it was pretty insulting. I thought it was pretty embarrassing. I apologized to their coaching staff after I saw it.”
Lamb said UNI coach Bobbi Peterson didn’t take great offense, and consoled him with the thought the video likely motivated her team. The Panthers defeated WSU 3-0 in front of a season-high crowd of 5,812 fans at Koch Arena.
“I don’t think it bothered us, but I could see it firing up Northern Iowa,” WSU’s Sam Sanders said. “It would fire up any team.”
WSU assistant athletic director John Brewer said the marketing department wanted to add to the excitement in the arena with the video and that, in the future, his department would do a better job making sure coaches are comfortable with the presentation.
Hold on tight — Most Missouri Valley Conference basketball players list Koch Arena as a favorite place to play. They get yelled at and they can’t wait to come back.
Evansville’s Colt Ryan recently recounted his Koch Arena memory from a 76-70 loss in overtime to WSU in 2010. Teammate Ned Cox had a chance to win the game in regulation with three free throws. Facing the student section, he missed the first and made the next two to tie the game 58-all.
“He was on the line shooting free throws,” Ryan said in an interview session with the MVC social media staff. “I was standing at half court next to Denver Holmes and the floor was literally shaking. I looked over to Denver and was like, pointing, at the floor because he couldn’t hear me.”
MVC preseason polls and all-conference teams will be announced Monday.
Ranked and ready — Creighton is reaching rare air for preseason respect in men’s basketball.
The Bluejays are No. 16 in the Associated Poll preseason poll of writers and broadcasters released Friday. It is No. 15 in the coaches poll administered by USA Today.
They are the first MVC team in the AP’s preseason poll since Southern Illinois started at No. 24 before the 2007-08 season. No. 16 is Creighton’s highest debut and the highest for a Valley team since the 1981-82 Shockers started No. 6.
Northern Iowa received five votes in the AP poll, as did Shocker opponents Virginia Commonwealth (58) and Tennessee (15).
Worth noting — WSU’s basketball Tip-Off luncheon is Nov. 7 at Koch Arena. Tickets are $25 or $60 as part of a three-lunch series.… WSU’s men’s team faces South Dakota State in a closed scrimmage today.