ST. LOUIS — And after 34 games they rested.
Well, sort of.
There still will be practices this week for Wichita State’s 34-0 Shockers.
Winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament will get you a nice watch, but not a full pass on practices.
Besides, the Big Dance looms.
But no one was complaining about having more than a week’s gap between WSU’s 83-69 victory Sunday over Indiana State to claim the championship and the NCAA Tournament.
“We just want an off day tomorrow,” Ron Baker said.
Coach Gregg Marshall smiled at his sophomore guard and said, “We need it.”
The Shockers may be tired and sore, particularly after playing three games in three days. But healthwise, they’re looking pretty good.
“I think we’re very healthy,” Marshall said. “Nicks, dings and bruises. But nothing major. Last year, we were banged up almost the whole year.”
And looked how that turned out. Final Four.
“But this year we stay relative injury free,” Marshall said. “That’s how you’re able to do some things like 34-0.”
Baker’s left ankle that he hurt in December has been the Shockers’ most significant injury. It’s still a little gimpy. In fact, both ankles are sore, he said.
“I’ll rehab on both of them,” he said. “It’s nothing where I’ll have to sit out any practices.
“I’m just a little beat up.”
He took an elbow to the face in the first half Sunday from Indiana State’s Devonte Brown as Baker tried to slip around a screen. The Scott City product is a magnet for elbows, and this one drew, upon an officials’ review, a flagrant foul.
“I’m getting used to it,” Baker said of the elbows.
Cleanthony Early sat on a table after the game with ice bags taped on both knees.
“We definitely have to take care of our bodies and get treatment this week,” Early said. “Ice up, stretch, stay loose and keep our minds prepared for the game.”
Point guard Fred VanVleet has his aches. Back? Thigh?
“Little ice and Tylenol,” he said, “and I’ll be all right.”
Forward Darius Carter understands the wear on the body from long seasons. Last year, he played on the Vincennes (Ind.) team that reached the national junior college semifinals in Hutchinson.
“You have to take care of yourself,” he said. “I have a lot of stuff that hurts – knees, ankles. I’m getting treatment. I’m holding up pretty good.”
Mostly, it’s about rest.
“We’re good mentally, physically,” said Tekele Cotton, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “We’re ready for what’s next.”