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Final Four notes Final Four notes: WSU recruits living the dream early

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, April 5, 2013, at 8:13 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, August 25, 2013, at 9:02 a.m.

— Shaq Morris isn’t allowed to wear hats to school at Edmond (Okla.) Memorial High. Wichita State can earn him a pass on Tuesday with two more wins.

Morris, who signed with Wichita State in November, asked his principal for permission to wear his Shocker hat if WSU wins the national title on Monday.

“We win it, I can wear my hat all day,” Morris said.

Morris is loaded with Shocker gear that he can wear to school. He owns a black and yellow jacket and a black shirt reading, “I got my city right behind me” from the Creighton game at Koch Arena.

WSU’s run to the Final Four is causing people in Oklahoma to reexamine their skepticism about Morris’ choice of school.

“When I committed and signed, it was like ‘Why?’ ” Morris said. “Now they’re all about Wichita State and ‘How about them Shockers?’ ”

WSU’s recruits are enjoying this trip almost as much as the Shockers. Morris, guard Ria’n Holland from South View (N.C.), guard D.J. Bowles of Oldsmar Christian (Fla.) and Chipola (Fla.) College forward Earl Watson signed last November with a team that last won an NCAA game in 2006. Now their future teammates are playing on CBS in the season’s biggest doubleheader.

Morris, a 6-foot-8 center, watches Carl Hall and imagines himself in that position next season.

“I’m like, ‘Next year, I’ll be dunking that one,’ ” he said. “It makes me even more excited to be a part of the program. You can do big things at Wichita State.”

Holland is watching every game and wants to be in Atlanta for Saturday’s national semifinal.

“Everywhere I go, somebody says something about Wichita State,” he said. “My Twitter’s been blowing up.”

Watson is also trying to make it to Atlanta.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I wish I could be there with them. I like their style of play, throwing it into the post a lot.”

Working the calendar — Wichita State needs to fill four open dates on next season’s schedule.

Filling those dates presented different challenges a month ago. The cachet of a Final Four team may help with promoters looking for big names. The performance of the Shockers — who will return players such as Cleanthony Early, Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker next season — may discourage coaches who prefer an easier touch.

WSU associate athletic director Darron Boatright is talking with people in Atlanta to fill those open dates. On Thursday, he met with representatives of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to talk about games in that arena.

“They want to become the premier college basketball neutral-site venue in the country,” Boatright said. “It was nice for them to reach out and visit with us about being involved in that.”

Frankamp lights up Atlanta — Wichita North product and Kansas signee Conner Frankamp won the American Family Insurance three-point championship on Friday in Atlanta. Frankamp, the City League’s career scoring leader, outdueled Bryce Alford in the final round, hitting 22 of 25 shots for the win.

Frankamp’s victory will air at 1 p.m. Saturday on CBS along with a dunk contest.

Alford is the son of UCLA coach Steve Alford. Bryce Alford signed with his father’s old school, New Mexico, and now needs a release from New Mexico to instead sign with UCLA.

Creighton’s frenemy — Creighton junior forward Doug McDermott made the media rounds in Atlanta, representing as an All-America and a player of the year candidate.

He had good things to say about the Shockers during an interview on CBS Sports Network.

“They’re really tough,” he said. “They’re going to bring it for 40 minutes and none of those guys are scared. They’re really rebounding the basketball and crashing the boards.”

Creighton defeated WSU in two of three meetings on its way to MVC and MVC Tournament titles. The Shockers are still playing and McDermott isn’t surprised.

“Not at all,” he said. “We played in a really good league. We’re excited to see them this far. I hope they win it all.”

McDermott said he has not decided if he will return to Creighton for his senior season or declare for the NBA Draft.

Two jobs for WSU — WSU’s response to Louisville’s presses will go a long way toward determining its offensive effectiveness. The Shockers first must break the press. Then they need to score quickly, or execute against Louisville’s half-court defenses.

“What you’ve got to do is not turn the ball over,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “If we’re turning the ball over and giving them transition opportunities, then we’re not doing what we’re trying to do.”

The Shockers faced a disruptive defense in November when they played at VCU. They committed 13 turnovers and kept the Rams from going crazy on fastbreaks in a 53-51 victory.

“We haven’t looked at VCU film, but VCU’s style of play is very similar to Louisville’s,” Baker said. “That game at the beginning of the year is something we have talked about and looked back on. It’s definitely been a good preparation game for us.”

Louisville will try to force the ball into danger zones and try to make shaky decision-makers handle the ball against the press.

“When you catch it in the corners, they’re going to try and trap immediately,” WSU guard Malcolm Armstead said. “It’s just a matter of staying away from the corners. We just have to be able to be composed and try to eliminate the atomic bombs, as we call them, to fuel their transition game.”

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