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Midwest notes: Wichitan patrols the floor

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 20, 2014, at 9:04 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, March 21, 2014, at 7:22 a.m.


No. 16’s closest calls

No. 16 Cal Poly faces No. 1 Wichita State on Friday. No. 1 seeds are 116-0 against No. 16 seeds since the introduction of the 64-team bracket in 1985. Here are the tightest games:

1 point

1989: Oklahoma 72, East Tennessee St. 71

1989: Georgetown 50, Princeton 49

2 points

1996: Purdue 73, Western Carolina 71

4 points

1985: Michigan 59, Fairleigh Dickinson 55

1990: Michigan St. 75, Murray St. 71, OT

6 points

1989: Illinois 77, McNeese St. 71

2013: Gonzaga 64, Southern 58

Fashion cop. Pressure checker. Tour director. Rim protector.

Wichitan Matt Baty performs all those jobs and more as floor manager for the St. Louis portion of the tournament. He is working as a volunteer at that job for his fourth NCAA Tournament and will serve as assistant floor manager for the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

Early Thursday morning, he pumped up basketballs in an equipment room filled with balls, coolers and water bottles. The NCAA ships the balls to sites filled, but they lose some air in transit. Baty made sure all are inflated to the mandatory 7 to 9 psi.

He oversees the locker rooms, officials and scorer’s table. He checks the rims to make sure they are 10 feet off the floor (he found one two inches high before a previous tournament). If there is a problem with the clocks, he takes on the issue. Teams benches are limited to 17 chairs and 22 people. Players who didn’t make the NCAA roster aren’t allowed to come out of the stands for huddles. He is responsible for getting food and drink to the locker rooms.

“Pretty much, from the time officials and players arrive, they are under my jurisdiction,” he said.

One of his biggest jobs is checking clothes to make sure they meet NCAA rules on logos and size. The NCAA wants everybody looking uniform and professional. All players must wear the same practice gear. No headphones allowed.

“They can’t have two logos on their socks,” he said. “When they’re out on the court and the cameras are panning through, you don’t want a bunch of guys in different logos. More than anything, it’s making sure the student-athletes have a great time.”

Baty, who is a vice president at Equity Bank, started working tournaments when he interned at the Big 12 Conference after playing baseball at Kansas. He worked in the athletic departments at Kansas and Wichita State before entering private business. When he left WSU, the Missouri Valley Conference called to ask if he would help with last season’s NCAAs in Kansas City.

“This is my way of staying in touch with the sport industry and giving my time back,” he said. “Most of my contacts in athletics have been through this.”

Back under the Arch — The Shockers are staying at the Westin, the same hotel they occupied during the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

“It’s like we were just here,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “We know exactly where the meeting room is. Same meeting room, same breakfast. It’s kind of like ‘Groundhog Day.’ 

The Shockers are 3-0 in the Scottrade Center and also won at Saint Louis’ campus arena earlier this season.

“You want to take any advantage you can get,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “But really, it is just about going out there and playing.”

Coaching bonuses — Kansas’ Division I coaches all receive extra compensation for their team’s achievements. How much they receive depends on the rest of the tournament.

Marshall has already earned $117,000 in pre-tournament bonuses: $20,000 for 20 victories, $18,000 for winning the Valley regular-season title, $18,000 for winning the MVC Tournament, $25,000 for being Valley Coach of the Year, and $36,000 for reaching the NCAAs.

Marshall can make $36,000 for each additional game past Friday’s opener, $60,000 more by reaching the Sweet 16, $100,000 for the the Final Four, $200,000 more for a national title and $50,000 more if he is named coach of the year by the Associated Press or the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber can earn a negotiation period for a contract extension or modification if the Wildcats win twice this weekend. His contract amendment, signed in April 2013, calls for negotiations after the 2014-15 season if K-State reaches the Sweet 16, wins either Big 12 title, receives a 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, or he wins Big 12 or national coach of the year. Those incentives are for this season and next season.

Weber has already earned a 8-percent bonus for K-State reaching the tournament, and it goes up to 16 percent if the Cats reach the Sweet 16. The bonus continues up to 20 percent for an Elite Eight spot, 24 percent for the Final Four and 32 percent for the national championship. Weber makes $1.75 million this season.

Kansas coach Bill Self’s contract, extended in August 2012, calls for Self to receive $50,000 for winning the Big 12 regular-season title, but he does not receive NCAA Tournament bonuses until the Jayhawks reach the Final Four ($150,000). A national championship would bring another $200,000.

Wichita State women’s coach Jody Adams has earned $31,000 in bonuses: $8,000 for a winning conference record, $8,000 for a league co-championship, $8,000 for winning the conference tournament, and $7,000 for reaching the NCAA Tournament. WSU plays at Penn State on Sunday. Adams could earn $15,000 with two wins and $20,000 for four wins, which would put the Shockers in their first Final Four.

Prospect prospectus — The St. Louis pod, serving the Midwest and South regionals, is chock-full of NBA prospects, which should come as no surprise with both Kentucky and Kansas in the mix.

But they’re not the only ones who have likely future pros on their roster.

Five online draft projections list Kansas freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Kentucky freshmen Julius Randle and James Young and Kentucky sophomore and Olathe native Willie Cauley-Stein as first-round picks in the June 26 NBA Draft.

Other projections have Kansas freshmen Wayne Selden, Wichita State senior Cleanthony Early and Kentucky freshmen Aaron and Andrew Harrison as first-rounders, with Kentucky freshman Dakari Johnson and KU sophomore (and Wichita native) Perry Ellis in the second round. Stanford’s Dwight Powell New Mexico’s Kendall Williams were also second-round projections.

Early, considered a marginal NBA prospect at the beginning of the season, is also a second-round projection by two other online services.

Cover couple – In the pantheon of boyfriend-girlfriend moments in the history of Wichita State, it’s hard to top the memory WSU guard Tekele Cotton and his girlfriend, WSU volleyball player Gaby Urban, chalked up this week.

Cotton was on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week and right beside him, to his lower left, was Urban, wearing a “100% Cotton” shirt among the two-dozen screaming Shocker fans also on the cover -- along with former WSU stars Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel.

“She’s the boss,” Cotton said, smiling. “She’s right there beside me, so I’m good with that.”

Cotton said he’s a regular at WSU home volleyball games to support Urban, a sophomore libero.

And when pressed on if he thought it was cool his girlfriend could be on the cover of Sports Illustrated with him?

“Well, I’m a boss, too,” he said, laughing.

His dad’s a fan — Cal Poly guard Jamal Johnson knows more about Wichita than most on his team. Gary Johnson, his father, worked for Boeing and follows the Shockers. Sallie Coleman, his grandmother, lived near WSU until moving to Dallas.

“My dad is from Wichita, born and raised,” Jamal said. “Wichita Shocker fan. He is always watching Wichita basketball.”

Johnson said he visited Wichita several times growing up and attended block parties in the neighborhood. Work moved his father to San Antonio, where Jamal grew up and attended Madison High.

So Johnson had some history with the Shockers as he paid attention during this historic season.

“It is hard not follow a team like that when they go undefeated in a season,” he said. “It is hard not to be a fan of good basketball. When you see a team play as well as they do, you become a fan naturally.”

What a long, strange trip it’s been — Cal Poly’s team walked into the Scottrade Center just minutes before their allotted time with the media on Thursday as NCAA Tournament officials worriedly checked their watches, wondering where the Mustangs were.

Don’t worry, they were just zipping across St. Louis on another leg of the greatest basketball odyssey in school history.

“Amazing,” Cal Poly forward Brian Bennett said. “Just a very cool couple of days.”

The Mustangs earned the right to play undefeated, No. 2 Wichita State on Friday night after beating Texas Southern 81-69 on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – the school’s first time playing in the NCAAs after moving from NCAA Division II to Division I in 1994.

Cal Poly had a quick stop at its Dayton hotel after the win, grabbed a charter jet out of Dayton around 10 p.m. and flew into St. Louis just past midnight.

“It was about 1:30 in the morning before we got in the hotel rooms,” Bennett said. “Pretty sure everybody was asleep within a couple of minutes.”

But they were rejuvenated on Thursday at the opportunity to play the Shockers – Cal Poly is 14-19 and earned an automatic bid by winning the Big West Tournament.

“You’ve got to respect the record, what (WSU) has done this whole year,” Bennett said. “But we didn’t go to Dayton thinking we were going to have it end there, and we haven’t come here thinking it’s going to end, either.”

At home in St. Louis — A pair of Kansas State players will be playing in front of family and friends on Friday. D.J. Johnson and Nino Williams are both from St. Louis and said they were excited about being in their hometown.

“It’s a good feeling,” Johnson said. “It’s a blessing to be home and playing in front of my family, just to show them how hard I have been working.”

For Williams, it is his first game in St. Louis since he left for K-State.

“I’m a family type of guy. I have just enjoyed being around them,” Williams said. “Playing in St. Louis should be fun.”

Poly want a Shocker — Cal Poly has stolen a chip off Wichita State’s shoulder. You know how it goes, Shockerland.

Team from a conference that doesn’t get national respect. So-called big boys don’t want to play you.

The NCAA Tournament has a way of forcing the issue. And that’s how Cal Poly coach Joe Callero sees Friday night’s game with WSU.

“If we’re ever going to be that program that has any national recognition,” Callero said this week, “you have to go play programs like Wichita State. We haven’t hid from anybody.”

Not that the Shockers ever dodged the likes of Cal Poly, but let’s not digress. Callero has a theme going here.

His Big West Conference team brings the only losing record in the tournament against a team with the best – and undefeated – mark in the dance.

But he likes to point out that he was finally able to schedule some heavyweights – although a few are more welterweights – this season.

“I asked the seniors if they wanted to play a schedule that we could win or a schedule that would challenge us and maybe have a losing record,” Callero said.

“Every one of them said, `Play as big, as best we can.’ 

So they played big – and lost a bunch. Now 14-19 after defeating Texas Southern in Wednesday’s play-in game in Dayton, the Mustangs would have to win the national title to get to .500.

Cal Poly went 4-9 in the non-conference season after playing – and losing – to five teams in the tournament: Arizona, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Delaware.

“Yes, we lost those games,” said Callero, “but we learned a ton about ourselves. We learned how to compete, keep your heads up.”

Even when injuries helped sink Cal Poly’s Big West season, losing 10 of 13 after a 4-1 start.

“We’re not going to play Division I and try to hide,” said Callero of the Mustangs, who are in their top-level NCAA Tournament since moving up to Division I for the 1994-95 season.

“We feel like we’re prepared to make this next step. We’re prepared for the big lights and the great teams.”

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