The beginning of the fall into the abyss came on March 4, 1989. It was a Saturday night in Levitt Arena, and after a day of hosting quarterfinal games in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, it was Wichita State’s turn on the court, the second seed hosting seventh-seed Illinois State.
Eddie Fogler’s Shockers delivered a clunker, losing 66-61 and killing any NCAA Tournament at-large chances. Two weeks and a 1-1 NIT record later, Fogler left for Vanderbilt but left assistant Mike Cohen.
The next decade – 115-171 record, one MVC top-half finish, no postseason appearances – can’t be laid at Cohen’s feet. Nor Scott Thompson’s, nor Randy Smithson’s. It was bad decision after bad decision. Recruits that didn’t pan out, mind-boggling losses that made the Shockers seem snake-bit. Anything that could go wrong did.
It’s telling that three of the four talented players of the decade – Jamie Arnold, John Smith and Maurice Evans – didn’t finish their careers as Shockers. All for different reasons, but indicative of the suffering Shocker fans endured. It was a decade when the Shockers couldn’t finish.
|Season||Overall||MVC (Finish)||Coach||Top scorer|
|1989-90||10-19||8-8 (T5th)||Mike Cohen||John Cooper (17.0)|
|1990-91||14-17||7-9 (8th)||Mike Cohen||Paul Guffrovich (15.8)|
|1991-92||8-20||6-12 (T7th)||Mike Cohen||John Smith (12.8)|
|1992-93||10-17||7-11 (T7th)||Scott Thompson||Jimmy Bolden (13.4)|
|1993-94||9-18||6-12 (T7th)||Scott Thompson||Jamie Arnold (11.7)|
|1994-95||13-14||6-12 (8th)||Scott Thompson||L.D. Swanson (14.6)|
|1995-96||8-21||4-14 (T10th)||Scott Thompson||Marvin Hill (13.1)|
|1996-97||14-13||8-10 (7th)||Randy Smithson||Jamie Arnold (15.0)|
|1997-98||16-15||11-7 (3rd)||Randy Smithson||Jason Perez (13.5)|
|1998-99||13-17||6-12 (T8th)||Randy Smithson||Maurice Evans (22.6)|
|Off the bench|