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Hoops for everyone

Some short hits today:

I’m looking forward to the high school state tournaments, although there are way too many of them. It’s obvious by now that the Kansas State High School Activities Association is never going to get it. And by “it,” I mean the notion that more is not always better. This year, there are two classes of Class 1A in basketball, which brings us to seven classes overall for a state with still fewer than 3 million people. Ridiculous. And in these times of budget shortfalls in schools, why not play up athletics as a way to produce some revenue. OK, not enough to solve budget problems, but at least something. With more promotion and fewer tournaments (imagine four state tournaments, all played in Wichita) there could be some state tournament basketball fever. As it is, I don’t sense much anticipation.Four tournaments in Wichita? Why not? You could play one at Intrust Bank Arena, one at Koch Arena, one at Hartman Arena and one at Newman or Friends. Or even East High. Then, on championship day, you could play all eight games (four girls, four boys) at one site. It might be tough to squeeze in all eight games in one day, so stretch the championship round to two days.The point I’m trying to make here is that for as long as I’ve cared, which covers my close to 37 years at The Eagle, the KSHSAA has not made a habit of thinking outside of the box. And there’s nothing wrong with innovation. The state tournaments have become stale. There are too many state champions. It’s a tired refrain.I didn’t hear Gregg Marshall’s coach’s show Monday night, but I did hear I was mentioned. Cool. And for those who are trying to make out some feud between me and Marshall, I don’t see it. I like him. I think he’s a passionate coach who has done a very good job at Wichita State. I think this season was a disappointment and I think the team’s depth, which was a really good thing early in the season, went sour toward the end. Depth can be a double-edged sword. Most of the time, it’s a real asset. We saw an example of depth (perceived depth, really) being a liability in some late-season losses.When I started writing columns 15 years ago or so, I was really sensitive to what people said about me. Overall, I’m a pretty sensitive guy, I think. But I soon learned that it’s best not to read the comments that appear at the end of my columns online. I look at all of my e-mail because I have to. And, over the years, I think people have become accustomed to the kind of columnist I am. I don’t regard myself as a flame-throwing columnist. I have opinions about a lot of things relating to sports and I’m not afraid to share them. But I try not to take cheap shots.Marshall is the basketball coach at Wichita State. It’s the most important sports job in Wichita, I believe. We’re going to clash at times, because I write about his team and program a lot. WSU basketball is my major point of emphasis as The Eagle’s sports columnist. Nothing is bigger in my realm.After WSU’s loss to Indiana State, I’ve heard talk about Marshall’s future at Wichita State. Some fear he’ll leave for a better job, others think he should be fired. To those who believe the latter: Get a clue. To those who believe the former: You never know. It wouldn’t shock me if Marshall looked at other opportunities. However, has he done enough at WSU to merit being looked at by big-name schools? It’s a legitimate question. I personally believe he has, but it’s borderline. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s 80 percent certain to be back at Wichita State for the 2011-12 season.I‘m going to spend a lot of time at the Class 6A tournament at Koch Arena over the next few days, writing about that tournament. The Heights boys are chasing their third straight championship and that’s great column fodder. I haven’t seen the Falcons play this season, so I’m looking forward to that.I choose not to go to Kansas City and cover the Big 12 Tournament for one reason: There’s just not much on the line. I suppose Kansas-Kansas State on Friday will be interesting since it’s a rubber match for the season. And I suppose a K-State win could knock KU to a No. 2 seed for the NCAA Tournament and elevate K-State to a 5- or even 4-seed, if the Wildcats go on to win the tournament. But I like writing about the high school tournaments even though – repeat after me – there are too many of them.Thanks for reading. Have a great night.

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