Men’s basketball coaches from around the American Athletic Conference were full of compliments for Wichita State on the first coaches’ conference call of the season on Monday.
A day after losing to WSU by 38, South Florida coach Brian Gregory said the Shockers are “as good of a team as there probably is in the country.”
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said No. 5 Wichita State, at 13-2 overall and 3-0 in AAC play, has already made its presence felt. The Shockers defeated Houston 81-63 on Jan. 4.
“Wichita State completely changes the dynamic of this league,” Sampson said. “This is their year.”
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But the highest praise may have come from the coach whose team is tied with WSU atop the conference standings: Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin.
“If you compared our team to their team, I would consider it an extreme compliment,” Cronin said. “The way they argue over who’s going to take the charge, it’s really impressive. It’s like you have to take a number. They have two guys waiting to take the charge. They have two guys looking to block every shot. They have two guys diving on every loose ball. You’re lucky if you have one guy that does that stuff.”
Cronin said he thinks Gregg Marshall is one of the top coaches in the country, but he also thinks it’s a mistake to think WSU overachieves with its talent level.
“They have some serious players,” Cronin said. “They’re not just a sum of their coach. They have guys that play hard and they have some real talented basketball players.”
Cronin called it a “colossal mistake” that he didn’t recruit Markis McDuffie out of New Jersey and said Landry Shamet was “obviously an NBA player.”
But his favorite player on the Shockers? Conner Frankamp.
“Because we got the same hair do,” Cronin said.
WSU will play Cincinnati for the first time on the road at Feb. 18, while the Bearcats will return to Wichita for the second matchup in the regular-season finale at Koch Arena on March 4.