LOS ANGELES — The reporters wondering this week about Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall’s future were asking about the wrong job around here.
Marshall isn’t the next coach at UCLA, he’s the next “American Idol.”
WSU’s big wins the last two weeks have given Marshall a chance to show off his singing voice. After the Shockers defeated top-ranked Gonzaga to reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last weekend, Marshall joined with the WSU band to belt out "You don’t want to go to war..."
After the Shockers beat Ohio State 70-66 on Saturday to advance to WSU’s first Final Four since 1965, and hours after Steve Alford was named coach at UCLA, Marshall sang along with "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," becoming especially animated during the "Sock it to me, sock it to me..." riff.
Marshall isn’t often afforded the opportunity to express himself musically, and he wasn’t going to pass it up after a historic win. There’s no song to which Marshall won’t sing along.
"Whatever pops into my head," Marshall said. "My family won’t let me sing much at the house. I love singing. I don’t have much rhythm and I don’t look very good dancing, but I like to sing."
Marshall’s melodies stand out because they take place in a scene that isn’t frenzied otherwise. During their tournament run, the Shockers have adopted the motto "Never satisfied" and embodied it by refusing to celebrate until they win the national championship.
Saturday’s victory produced the same theatrics after the buzzer as WSU’s previous tournament wins — few theatrics. A couple players raised their hands and some motioned with excitement toward WSU’s fans, but there was no single moment that will live on forever in Shocker highlight reels.
Even the net-cutting ceremony was downplayed. Each Shocker — and some of their relatives — cut a strand of net and handed the scissors to the next person. Single file, no line-jumping.
"I don’t know, maybe we expected to do it," Marshall said. "Honestly, it is a little subdued. It’s not pandemonium, but that’s the way they were in the Elite Eight game."
The Shockers have been asked so often about their tame celebrations that they’ve developed a chip on their shoulder about them.
The four games in the tournament has given Wichita State a national identity. "Play angry" and "never satisfied" have caught on, and now their attitude toward winning has become a talking point.
"We celebrate now, but we don’t even celebrate the way everybody wants us to celebrate," WSU junior Cleanthony Early said. "We understand that we have two more games left until the real thing. If we can accomplish that, then we can celebrate.
"After the season is over, we can still celebrate. It’s been a great year. But right now, when we’re in it and we still have moments to seize, we’ve got to be humble."
At least in public.
"Oh, we’re gonna celebrate on this plane, brother," Marshall said of WSU’s trip back to Wichita, scheduled to arrive early Sunday morning. "We might just float home."