The governor came up with a line even Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall admired.
Gov. Sam Brownback called the Shockers “Godzilla, not Cinderella” at Monday’s Final Four celebration at Koch Arena. Marshall, who used slogans such as “Play Angry” and “Are You Satisfied?” during WSU’s run, gave the governor credit for recognizing the Shockers belonged among the nation’s elite.
“They knew that they belonged,” Marshall said. “They knew they were as good as any team in America.”
Around 3,500 fans gathered in the arena to watch highlight videos, cheer the players and coaches and watch the awards ceremony. The Shockers advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1965 and won a school-record 30 games. Their season ended with a 72-68 loss to eventual champion Louisville in the national semifinals in Atlanta.
A memorable season produced a celebration full of tributes, laughs and ovations.
Wichita mayor Carl Brewer gave Marshall the key to the city and proclaimed 2013 a “Shocker Year.” Brownback, wearing a yellow Wichita State shirt, teased Kansas and Kansas State fans by remarking that a bill to force those schools to play WSU had been withdrawn because its author “didn’t want to clutter the preseason with lower talent.”
“As governor of the state of basketball, it is great to be here,” Brownback said. “Three teams started the tournament and one made it to the Final Four.”
All the Shockers – managers, trainers, players, coaches – took their bows. Marshall said teachers told him the Shockers inspired them to “Teach Angry” and ministers wanted to “Preach Angry.” WSU’s four seniors earned the most time in the spotlight, even though Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead did not attend. Both are on the road trying to impress professional teams. Hall played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia over the weekend.
Student manager Jeff Chapman read a letter from Armstead in which he thanked coaches, fans and his teammates. Ehimen Orukpe, after adjusting the microphone to account for his height, thanked coaches for pushing him and strength coach Kerry Rosenboom and trainer Todd Fagan for “keeping my body in place.”
“I want to thank my teammates – this is my group, my squad,” he said. “I love them all.”
Demetric Williams, who won a program-best 111 games in four seasons, called Marshall “a dad away from my own dad.”
“I looked up to him,” Williams said. “All the great things he taught me, making me grow into a man, a lot of stuff I needed to learn.”
Marshall ended his speech by asking the fans if the Final Four satisfied them. They answered no, and Marshall turned to the players seated behind him. He asked again, and the fans responded more loudly.
“We’ve got two more games to win, don’t we?” he said. “It’s going to be a great off-season. We’re not satisfied. And if you guys are with us again next year, we’re going to play angry for you.”