The big volleyball match is Saturday against No. 22 Northern Iowa. Wichita State can't get there without playing on Friday against last-place Bradley.
Despite the extremes, the chances of a letdown on Friday seem small for the Shockers. They're experienced. They've won 13 in a row against Bradley. They're used to preparing for two opponents, sometime of varying strength, during the week of practice.
"Lambo usually does a pretty good job of getting us focused for the right team at the time," senior outside hitter Kim Wadsworth said.
Northern Iowa (24-2, 14-0 Missouri Valley Conference) and Bradley (9-19, 0-14) seem to have little in common. Wichita State coach Chris Lamb thinks they share enough traits to make this week's scouting and preparation efficient. With five seniors and talent on his side, Lamb isn't worried about a breakdown against Bradley. As much as is possible and necessary, his team will prepare for both opponents, sometimes at the same time.
"You look for common denominators," he said. "There's enough things that they both do that you can do some of it together."
Playing opponents on back-to-back nights is nothing new for the Shockers. It is the way MVC weekends are scheduled.
"Either way, we've got to come out and play hard," junior middle Sarah McGee said. "Knowing that we need to win both... we just need to prepare this week, mostly for UNI, but with Bradley you never know what to expect."
The Shockers trail UNI by three matches with four remaining. The Panthers play at Missouri State, tied for second with WSU, on Friday. One win this weekend clinches at least a share of the MVC title for UNI. Two wins wraps up the No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament.
Even if winning the MVC title is a long shot, the Shockers can help their NCAA Tournament resume with a win Saturday. UNI, which has won 22 straight matches, is No. 31 in the NCAA's RPI rankings. WSU is No. 20.
"Our focus is really on UNI this week, but, just like any other team, you can lose a game on any given day," Wadsworth said. "We're definitely not overlooking Bradley. We'll do the same routine we always do and prepare for their best players and do a scouting report on them."
UNI, MSU and WSU clinched spots in the MVC Tournament. Creighton, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State and Indiana State are fighting for the remaining three spots.
Sign and fax — Starting today, athletes can sign letters of intent with NCAA Division I schools.
* Three Rivers Community College center Ehimen Orupke is expected to sign with the WSU men's basketball team today.
Orupke, from Lagos, Nigeria, is averaging six points, five rebounds and seven blocked shots in two games for Three Rivers. The Raiders, No. 4 in the NJCAA poll, play at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M tonight.
Orupke, who redshirted last season at Three Rivers, will have three seasons of eligibility at WSU.
* The women's basketball team expects to sign several players during the fall period. It has known commitments from Kelsey Jacobs, a center from Fortuna (Calif.) High and, according to the Dallas Morning News, point guard Krystle Henderson of Dallas Skyline.
* Seven baseball players are orally committed to WSU: Roff (Okla.) infielder Dayne Parker, Choctaw (Okla.) infielder Josh Halbert, pitchers Kris Gardner of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, Cale Elam of Oktaha, Okla., Zach Beringer of Harrisburg, Mo. and Albert Minnis of Lawrence, and catcher Bob Arens of Northwest.
Scavenger hunt — WSU's men's team opens the season against Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. Coach Gregg Marshall isn't kidding when he says he doesn't know much about the Knights.
Interim coach Greg Vetrone was an assistant at the school last season. Before that, he coached Port Chester (N.Y.) High during the 2007-08 season.
"We're literally trying to find videotapes from his high school coaching resume," Marshall said Tuesday at a booster luncheon at Koch Arena.
Vetrone took over in June after Fairleigh Dickinson fired Tom Green after 26 seasons. The Knights open the season Friday at Villanova.
Sidelined — WSU junior forward Gabe Blair missed practice Monday and Tuesday with what Marshall described as the flu.
Blair played 19 minutes in Saturday's 81-69 win over Newman in an exhibition game.