Before No. 19 Wichita State plays Temple on Thursday at Koch Arena, coach Gregg Marshall will update the white board that resides in the Shockers’ film room.
Six games, 17 days, two weeks.
It’s the remaining time WSU’s six seniors have in their final regular season. Marshall updates the countdown before every game and now, three weeks before the postseason begins, he wants to start seeing more urgency from the Shockers.
“Unless we win the national championship, they’re going to say, ‘I wish we could have done a little more,’ ” Marshall said. “Now’s the time. Don’t lament that later on in life.”
To the seniors — Zach Brown, Conner Frankamp, Rashard Kelly, Shaquille Morris, Rauno Nurger and Darral Willis — Wichita State’s 19-5 season has gone by faster than they were expecting. They say it’s surreal to see the numbers on the white board dwindle.
“Everybody told us how senior year would fly by, but you don’t really believe that until you’re actually here,” Frankamp said. “We’re trying to make the most of it as much as we can, but it really has flown by. We all love each other, so that makes the game on the court easier.”
The team has gone through the highs of a top-five ranking early in the season and the lows of losing back-to-back games for the first time in five years and letting late leads slip away against Notre Dame and Temple.
Through the adversity, WSU has become a hungrier team, according to Kelly.
“We don’t want to taste success and then you settle,” Kelly said. “That’s how we gave up leads to Notre Dame and Temple. We had leads, then we settled. We want more and we want to be a success-driven team throughout the entire game and be that way for a complete 40 minutes.”
Since an 81-79 overtime loss to Temple in Philadelphia, WSU has rebounded with consecutive 20-point victories over Memphis on the road and Connecticut at home.
But the road ahead will be challenging. Temple has won five in a row, while road trips to SMU and Central Florida are potential pitfalls. And biggest of all, the two games with No. 5 Cincinnati (23-2), starting this Sunday with a road trip and concluding March 4 at Koch Arena in the regular-season finale.
“The closer it gets to postseason play, those games are even more meaningful,” Marshall said. “I just like being involved in it. The other option is it doesn’t matter. You’re already out of it, you’re not going to make the tournament unless you win your conference tournament, so those games don’t matter.”
The Shockers will certainly play a handful of meaningful games down the stretch with the ability to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding, which is currently a No. 6 according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm.
Now is the time for urgency.
“To be honest, college basketball is crazy this year and anybody can beat anybody,” Kelly said. “So we’re taking things one day at a time and we’re 100 percent focused on our next game.”
Temple at No. 19 Wichita State
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Koch Arena (10,506)
TV: ESPN2 (Adam Amin, Mark Adams)
Records: Temple (15-10, 7-6 AAC), Wichita State (19-5, 9-3)
Series: Temple leads 4-0