As far as introductions go, these should be fairly memorable. Wichita State’s basketball teams, coming off their greatest postseason appearances, meet the public Friday night.
“The teams have been getting ready and practicing and now, to unveil them, is going to be great,” Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton said. “They get to see the start of the next great Shockers season.”
The men’s team was ranked 16th in the USA Today coaches preseason poll Thursday, six months after its Final Four appearance in Atlanta. The women’s team returns from its first NCAA Tournament berth.
The usual Shocker Madness fare for these early-season introductions will be there, of course, with team introductions, scrimmages, a women’s three-point contest and a men’s dunk contest.
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Then there’s some stuff that’s out of the norm.
The women’s team will drop its first NCAA Tournament banner, which came after their first Missouri Valley Conferene regular-season and tournament titles.
“(Shocker Madness) is really a fun experience because there’s a lot of fan involvement and Coach (Gregg) Marshall and Coach (Jody) Adams both talk about the upcoming season,” WSU senior forward Michelle Price said. “For us, it’s a chance to go out and have fun with our new teammates and show the fans what our new team is about but also show them that the tradition we’re building still stands.”
The returning members of the men’s team will receive their Final Four rings — joined at 9 p.m. by a national look-in from ESPNU for the ring ceremony along with analyst Len Elmore, who will be in Wichita.
The Shockers are one of nine teams — along with Duke, Florida Gulf Coast, Kentucky, Memphis, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Connecticut — whose kickoff events will be nationally televised as part of ESPNU’s Midnight Madness. Marshall and Adams will address the crowd.
It’s an event traditionally held around the start of practices, but NCAA rules changed this season to allow an extra two weeks of practice for men’s teams.
“It’s going to be an exciting feeling to get our rings,” WSU guard Evan Wessel said. “It’s always a great feeling to get a championship ring, but other than that we’re going to make it business as usual. There’s a lot more expectations, but we welcome that. We want to be held to a higher standard because we expect to make the tournament every year.
“The extra attention is tough because everyone is gunning for us, but that comes with success. It’s how we deal with it that matters.”