Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and senior Cleanthony Early are finalists for U.S. Basketball Writers Association national honors.
Marshall is one of 10 coaches on the ballot for the Henry Iba National Coach of the Year Award. Early, a 6-foot-8 forward, is one of 15 finalists for the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Year Trophy.
The coach of the year honor will be announced on April 14. The Robertson trophy will be awarded on April 4. Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins is also a Robertson finalist.
The other coaches on the list are: John Beilein, Michigan; Tony Bennett, Virginia; Larry Brown, SMU; Jim Crews, Saint Louis; Mick Cronin, Cincinnati; Billy Donovan, Florida; Steve Fisher, San Diego State; Greg McDermott, Creighton; and Jay Wright, Villanova.
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Joining Early and Wiggins are UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Cameron Bairstow of New Mexico, Melvin Ejim of Iowa State, Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair, Arizona’s Nick Johnson, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, UConn’s Shabazz Napier, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Florida’s Casey Prather, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Russ Smith of Louisville.
Turn on the cameras — The media pack chronicling WSU’s unbeaten season will hit another level this weekend.
Marshall did an interview with CNN on Thursday, as well as Yahoo radio and the Washington Post. A television crew is doing a story on the Wiggins family, including WSU senior Nick Wiggins, for an NCAA Tournament feature.
ESPN’s Bob Knight will attend Friday’s practice and Saturday’s game against Missouri State. He will interview Marshall for ESPN’s coverage on Saturday during its college basketball programs. ESPN’s crew for the game will consist of Holly Rowe, Rich Hollenberg, Mark Adams and Sean Farnam.
Marshall admires Knight’s coaching career and wanted to coach against him. A loss to Gonzaga spoiled a chance for his Winthrop team to meet Knight’s Texas Tech team in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. He scheduled a series against Texas Tech in 2008 and 2009, but Knight retired and handed his team to son Pat Knight.
“It will be a real treat for me to get to talk to him,” Marshall said. “I know he’s going to go pheasant hunting while he’s here.”
More candles — Marshall celebrated his 51st birthday on Thursday. From a basketball perspective, it is more fun than a year ago.
Last season, WSU lost to Evansville at home on his birthday, blowing a chance to clinch a share of the Missouri Valley Conference title. A planned celebration with friends from out of town wasn’t much fun.
“Then we didn’t win at Creighton the following Saturday, so I’m thinking … this 50-year-old deal is terrible,” he said. “Fifty-one is better. That 50th year turned around really, really well.”