▪ One of the reasons Wichita State is successful is that it must take every game seriously — like Game 7, as Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh says. Gregg Marshall doesn’t coach at places that enjoy the luxury of middling through November and December and making it up in conference play.
The Shockers are used to making every game count and it pays off because full-go is their default mode. Not every team is like that.
How much room do the Shockers have to ease guard Fred VanVleet back into action? His strained left hamstring might keep him out of Friday’s game. If he doesn’t play, that likely makes Tuesday’s game at Tulsa more challenging, assuming he is ready for that.
On Nov. 26, the Shockers open play in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. That seems to be the critical target for getting VanVleet to 100 percent. Losses aren’t going to keep WSU out of the NCAA Tournament, but they could hurt seeding. Consider that last season’s team went 27-4 (against NCAA Division I opponents), 17-1 in the MVC, and ranked No. 17 in the RPI on Selection Sunday.
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It got a No. 7 seed after going 7-4 vs. the top 100.
This season’s team is projected as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed. The Shockers can’t lose many non-conference games and maintain that spot. So the Shockers are correct to use the utmost caution with VanVleet, even if makes Friday’s game messy and Tuesday’s game an issue.
▪ Radebaugh and Marshall are good friends. Like many coaches, competing against a buddy isn’t always ideal.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult as we’ve both grown in the profession,” Radebaugh said. “I haven’t enjoyed it as much. I can’t wait to see Gregg and Lynn (Marshall), but competing against them — first and foremost they don’t make any mistakes.”