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Marshall has No. 20 Wichita State flying high

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Marshall has No. 20 Wichita State flying high

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) There are some coaches in college basketball who always seem composed. They may be churning below the surface, but outwardly they're calm, keeping everything bottled up until a player makes an errant pass or an official's call goes the other way.

Gregg Marshall is not one of those coaches.

The sixth-year coach of Wichita State is the fly that fell in the can of Red Bull, perpetual motion personified. He stalks the sidelines in his jet-black suit for 40 minutes every night, his screaming voice augmented by his flailing arms and stomping feet. He'd be wasting his time if he wasn't talking to four people at once - calling for a sub, conferring with an assistant, ripping a referee, all while ordering up the next play.

``We don't always do things perfect, and when we don't, he can get loud,'' admitted Carl Hall, a senior forward. ``But he just wants to win. That's him. He's all about winning.''

He's been doing plenty of that lately.

The Shockers rose to No. 20 in the polls and first place in the Missouri Valley after a dramatic win over then-No. 12 Creighton last Saturday. Now at 18-2 after beating Missouri State on Wednesday night, they're well on their way toward a fourth straight season of at least 25 wins, and their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.

They've beaten mid-major darling VCU on the road, Iowa on a neutral floor and Southern Miss - another NCAA tournament-bound team - at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita.

They're also perfect at Koch Arena, their raucous on-campus home.

``Since I've been here, we've been first or second in the Valley. We've always had winning teams,'' said Demetric Williams, a senior guard. ``That's our expectation.''

Even when injuries ravage the team, that didn't change. Three starters went down during a week in December, and only Hall has returned. Sharpshooter Evan Wessel had season-ending surgery last week, and versatile guard Ron Baker isn't expected back until February.

Not that it matters much to Marshall. He'll coach whoever is on the floor.

``Coming into this year, we were picked fourth in the Valley for a reason,'' he said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. ``Losing four seniors off the NIT championship team two years ago, and then losing five seniors last year who happened to be our five leading scorers - we've lost nine starters in two years who were all valuable, core guys.

``We liked our recruiting class and we liked some of the guys we were redshirting, and coming in, but at the same time, they weren't proven here. So it was a fair prediction. That was one deal,'' he added. ``And then the three injuries, that's another adversity, a stressful unknown.''

They've managed to overcome it with one of the most diverse rosters around.

Hall is from Georgia and played junior college ball in Florida. Seven-footer Ehimen Orukpe is from Lagos, Nigeria, by way of Three Rivers (Mo.) Community College. Wessel is a hometown kid who starred at Wichita Heights High School. Nick Wiggins and Chadrack Lufile are Canadians, and Kadeem Coleby, a redshirting transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette, is originally from the Bahamas.

Somehow, they found their way to Wichita State's low-key, brick-and-mortar campus, nestled within a working-class community on a wind-swept prairie in south-central Kansas.

``It's pretty incredible what Gregg Marshall has done in his time there,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, ``with his personnel changing every year it seems.''

``I enjoy all my teams,'' Marshall said, ``but some are a little harder to deal with, some a little more reluctant to accept coaching. But the other day, I found myself really enjoying practice. And I'm not a smiling, happy-go-lucky guy at practice. It's a time to work, to improve, to get better. But the other day, I thought, `Man, this is fun.'''

That's a sentiment echoed by folks all over town.

Without a football program, the basketball team is the biggest thing going in a former oil boomtown that now relies heavily on the aviation industry and has struggled heavily during an economic downturn that has made corporate jets an endangered species.

Truth be told, it's been that way for years.

The Shockers were a dominant program during the 1960s, led by Hall of Fame coach Ralph Miller and buoyed by stars such as Dave ``the Rave'' Stallworth. They were No. 1 for a short time during the 1964-65 season, ultimately losing to John Wooden's UCLA team in the Final Four.

After a few down years, Wichita State regained national prominence in the late `70s behind future NBA players such as Xavier McDaniel, Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston. Mark Turgeon arrived in 2000, ushering in seven more years of prosperity.

It certainly hasn't ebbed with the arrival of Marshall, who took Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments and turned down more than one BCS job before signing on with the Shockers.

``We were there for nine years,'' Marshall said. ``There were other jobs offered to me that were a little bit better, and I wasn't interested. And I almost stayed at Winthrop. I had a 10-year contract on the table when I left. They were going to put my name on the court, but the caveat is I would have to be there 10 more years, and I didn't want to do that.''

Instead, he wanted another challenge in a new environment.

Marshall rises from his seat during an hour-long interview in his office - he's always on the move, after all - and starts pointing out mementos from his coaching career.

On one wall is a net from the championship he won as a player at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., where he also got his coaching start. Nine more nets hang from nails on another wall, the seven Big South titles that he won with the Eagles along with his first Missouri Valley title at Wichita State and the NIT title that his Shockers won two seasons ago.

There's a framed picture of him holding his son, Kellen, after Winthrop won its third Big South championship. The boy had predicted that the first team to 67 points would win, Marshall explained, and in the background the scoreboard reads, ``Winthop 67, Radford 65.''

In the corner of Marshall's office sits a surfboard from a trip to the Maui Invitational. Basketballs painted to mark milestones crowd a shelf behind his cluttered desk. The dry erase board is crammed with the names of potential recruits, the Xs and Os of a game plan, a breakdown of an opposing team's roster and enough statistics to make a sabrematrician shudder.

Marshall insists he's not a sentimental person, despite all the keepsakes. But that would help to explain why he spent so many years in Rock Hill, S.C., and why he's turned down offers to leave Wichita State for higher-paying jobs in marquee conferences.

Besides, Marshall said, he has a seven-year contract in the seven figures that rolls over every year, and there's something to be said for stability. Another good recruiting class is coming in next season, and with a few returning stars, the Shockers' momentum appears to be building rather than petering out.

Is it possible that Marshall will move on someday? Sure. Maybe even this year. But it would take the right offer in the right place, and it would have to come at the right time.

``You can't buy happy,'' he said with conviction. ``Winning is important to me. We've proven we can win here. And so it would have to be really, really special.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

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Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE