Wichita State’s non-conference men’s basketball schedule may be finished, done in by the intricacies of scheduling and a shrinking timetable.
The Shockers are contractually obligated to play a fourth game in connection with the Maui Invitational. However, the requirements go beyond finding one opponent willing to play at Koch Arena.
That same opponent must play at LSU in November and in a mainland portion of the tournament the week of Thanksgiving at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. LSU, WSU and six other schools play in Maui that week.
There are no candidates for that spot in late July, Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright said, and it is growing more likely everyone will agree to scrap the Maui mainland game for WSU and LSU.
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“We haven’t found anybody,” he said. “This game has been a struggle. It’s decision time. It’s time to put this to bed.”
A game between LSU and WSU was discussed and is unlikely, he said.
Wichita State’s schedule is demanding enough, including games at Baylor and Oklahoma State, that adding another road game is not appealing. For LSU’s part, it’s understandable if first-year coach Will Wade is not eager to play a road game. WSU defeated LSU 82-47 last season in the Battle 4 Atlantis. A neutral-site game was briefly discussed and discarded.
“It doesn’t fit for both of us right now,” Boatright said. “It’s an option, but not a good one.”
That leaves the third, and most likely option, which is to not play the fourth game of the Maui Invitational. Boatright said he believes the tournament is willing to work with WSU and LSU on the contract, in part because both programs are in transition — WSU to a new conference and LSU with a new coach.
“They understand and appreciate the efforts that both LSU and ourselves had made to try to make this happen,” Boatright said. “We are in almost daily conversation with the individuals that run the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.”
Maui officials haven’t lost all hope yet.
“We continue to work closely with Wichita State to secure an opponent for their mainland game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational," a tournament spokesperson said in an email.
If WSU’s non-conference schedule is set, it starts against UMKC on Nov. 10 at home and includes Baylor (Dec. 2), Oklahoma State (Dec. 9) and Oklahoma (Dec. 16 at Intrust Bank Arena). The Shockers open against California on Nov. 20 in Maui and play either VCU or Marquette on Nov. 21.
Dates and TV for the American Athletic Conference portion of the schedule were announced in early September last season. This season’s pairings were announced in June.
The Shockers will play Cincinnati, Connecticut, SMU, Tulsa, Houston, Temple and Central Florida in home and home series. The Shockers play at East Carolina and Memphis with no home games. South Florida and Tulane travel to Koch Arena, but don’t get home games with the Shockers.
WICHITA STATE SCHEDULE TO DATE
Contracted non-conference games for Wichita State’s 2017-18 men’s basketball
Nov. 10 — UMKC
Nov. 13 — College of Charleston
Nov. 20 — California at Maui Invitational
Nov. 21 — VCU/Marquette at Maui Invitational
Nov. 22 — at Maui Invitational
Nov. 28 — Savannah State
Dec. 2 — at Baylor
Dec. 5 — South Dakota State
Dec. 9 — at Oklahoma State
Dec. 16 — Oklahoma at Intrust Bank Arena
Dec. 19 — Arkansas State
Dec. 22 — Florida Gulf Coast