▪ Believe about 20 percent about what you’ve heard from players and coaches down-playing the significance of this game. Both sides did a great job passing out genuine praise and respect. Both sides said all the right things early in the week about not overlooking Indiana and New Mexico State.
Now that the game is here, everybody understands its emotional appeal and this is very much the game the Shockers wanted when the bracket was announced. It would be troubling for them to feel any other way.
▪ Wichita State’s Evan Wessel is going to have to guard someone several inches taller, likely Perry Ellis. Wessel did a great job on Indiana’s Troy Williams, who wanted to bull-rush the basket and found Wessel’s wall of solid defense in his way. Williams went 2 for 10 from the field on his way to an inefficient 11 points, an underrated factor in WSU’s victory.
Ellis will offer a more versatile test with his variety of post moves and soft jumper. But Wessel’s job will remain similar in that he must use his strength and hustle to beat Ellis, or whomever he guards, to spots and push them out of their comfort zone.
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▪ WSU coaches would have been negligent to not pick Conner Frankamp’s brain. What could the Shockers learn? Inbound plays, vocal play calls or signals used by the coaches. Might be something. Might be nothing. Frankamp, as a transfer sitting out, can’t travel with the team.
▪ The Shockers probably can’t get by with 2-of-13 shooting from three-point range again. As has been the case most of the season, Wessel and Tekele Cotton are probably going to get some open shots. However, instead of a 6-foot-3 defender rushing to defend, it will likely be a defender four inches taller throwing up an obstacle.
Kansas shot poorly from three in the Big 12 Tournament (8 of 32) before making 9 of 13 against New Mexico State.
▪ Both teams are excellent in transition. The Shockers committed seven turnovers against Indiana and will probably need a similar number against Kansas. The Jayhawks committed 14 against New Mexico State, a team that plays zone, and gave up 16 points off those turnovers. The Shockers would very much like to be in that range.
A faster game probably favors Kansas, because of its size and speed. The Shockers are good on the break, but they don’t have the 6-foot-7 finishers possessed by Kansas.
▪ I heard one fan selling lower-level seats for $500 each. That’s probably on the low end for the better seats.