Meet The Opponents- Wichita State Shockers
In 2011, the Shockers beat the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2011 NIT Championship.
This will be WichitaState’s 2nd time appearing in the Final Four, last going in 1965, who lost to John Wooden’s UCLA team 108-89.
All five starters for the Shockers are new to the lineup this year, with last year’s team losing all 5 of its starting players.
Dan and Frank Carney, Bill Parcells
Guard-#32 Tekele Cotton,6-2, 202 lbs, Sophomore
Tekele Cotton’s defense is the trademark of the young sophomore’s play, and that’s no surprise looking at who gave birth to him. Leza Jones is very familiar with not only the game of basketball, but specifically defense. Jones coached Tekele early in his ball playing years, also playing high school basketball before a knee injury cut her short. Learning to play defense first at Whitefield Academy in Mabelton, Georgia, Cotton lead his team to a 28-4 record. Gaining Player of the Year honors and a regional championship along the way to the final four of his state tournament, Cotton was recruited by Murray State, Morehead State and Tennessee State before committing to Wichita State. His freshmen year, Tekele played in all games coming off the bench averaging 2.9 points and 1.5 rebounds. Shooting 50.8 percent, Cotton bulked up a measly 10 pounds in the off-season to get bigger for this year. Currently averages 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds a game.
Guard-#31 Ron Baker,6-3, 218 lbs, Freshmen
Ron Baker comes from a small town in Kansas known as Scott City. Attending Scott City High School, in a town of about 4,000 people, Baker had to work hard to get where he is today. Also playing football and baseball, Ron was named to the All-State team after leading his team to a state championship with a 25-1 record. Averaging 20.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 4.6 steals a game his senior year, he scored 26 points and made a put back buzzer beater to win the state title. Collecting offers from South Dakota State and Arkansas- Little Rock, Baker chose Wichita State. Missing most of the season with a foot injury, Ron came back just in time for the Missouri Valley Tournament to rejuvenate the Shockers to their Final Four run. Averaging 8.6 points per game this year, Baker is a pivotal part in the WSU program and looks to set his name in stone.
Guard- #2 Malcolm Armstead,6-0,205 lbs, Senior
The case of Malcolm Armstead is a quite interesting one. A standout at Central Park Christian High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Armstead played for Chipola Junior College. Shooting 52% from behind the arc, he lead Chipola to a third place finish in the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s National Basketball Championship. During his stretch at CJC Armstead contributed to a 33 game win streak. He then transferred to Oregon where he would see action in all 32 games, including a start in 27 of those contests. During his tenure at Oregon, Armstead broke the school record for steals in a season (65), led the team in assists (4.3 apg), and was the team leader in minutes played (31.7 mpg). However, Malcolm was unhappy at Oregon and decided to transfer to Wichita State. Due to NCAA rules, Armstead had to sit out a year for the transfer. Adding salt in the wounds, there were no available scholarships open for Malcolm, resulting in him paying full tuition. He then picked up a job at a car dealership to help pay off the enormous amount of debt he will face when he leaves. The decision seemed to pay off for Malcolm, as he has leaded his team to the Final Four, averaging 10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game along the way.
Forward-#22 Carl Hall,6-8, 238 lbs, Senior
Carl Hall is a leading inspiration to this Shocker team. Starting out at Middle Georgia College, he played just three games before a heart condition halted his basketball season immediately. Granted a medical hardship by the NJCAA, Hall skipped the 2008-2009 season but came back the following year before transferring to Northwest FloridaState, where he flourished. Named to the first All-American team, Carl averaged 17.6 points a game and 9.6 rebounds a game. Also shooting 59 percent from the field, Carl Hall was the Panhandle Conference Player of the Year. His junior year at WSU got off to a bang, being named MVC Newcomer of the Year, and shooting a 57.2 percentage all year, ranking 13th best in WSU history. Another piece of hardware Hall collected the Shafer Dart Most Inspirational Player award. This year, Carl averages 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Forward-#11 Cleanthony Early,6-8,215 lbs, Junior
Early played for Pine Bush (N.Y.) High School his senior season, posting a 20 point and 10 rebound average every game. However it was his work at Mt. Zion Academy (N.C.) that impressed everybody, winning the national tournament and MVP honors with a 24 point and 11 rebound average along the way. Cleanthony began his journey at Sullivan (N.Y.) County Community College, where he averaged 20.4 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game, and shooting 57 percent from the field with a 78 percent free throw percentage, lead his team to a region championship, a third place finish in the national tournament, and a 30-5 record all as a freshman. As a sophomore he lead the Generals to a 28-4 record, averaging 24.2 points and 10.7 rebounds all season. Most notably during his tenure Early collected consecutive NJCAA Player of the Year awards. Recruited by Alabama, Baylor, Missouri, San Diego State, Washington State, Quinnipiac, Albany, Central Connecticut, Iona, Robert Morris, Siena, Pitt, Georgetown, Memphis, St. Johns and Rutgers, Cleanthony chose Wichita State. Early currently averages 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, making his awareness on the court a must for the other team.
WichitaState has come out of nowhere. Beating the #1 and #2 seed out of the West region, the Shockers are this years “Cinderella” team. While forcing turnovers is not a strong point for WSU (a measly 5 steals a game), three-point shooting is. With 3 players shooting .425 or better from downtown, you can’t ignore the fact that they can convert uncontested attempts. Countering the attack from the arc is the teams leading scorer Cleanthony Early in the post. Ranking 27th in the nation in rebounds per game, the Shockers attack the boards ferociously. However another weakness has been exposed in Wichita State’s team: Free Throws. The Shockers, as a team, shoot .698 from the charity stripe. This can be a problem down the stretch if needed to close out a game or come back late in the second half. Coach Gregg Marshall likes to use everybody on his bench. And when the phrase “everybody” is said, it means everybody. With the lowest minutes played per game is 8, the Shockers are constantly rotating players in and out, which is similar to the style Oregon football uses in which the goal is to simply wear the opponent down along the stretch.
Road to the Final Four
March 21- vs Pittsburgh W 73-55
March 23- vs Gonzaga W 76-70
March 28- vs Lasalle W 72-58
March 30- vs Ohio State W 70-66
April 6- vs Louisville Saturday, 6:09 PM EST
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