Shockers heed Big Dog’s advice, pound Pitt
Gregg Marshall stood and addressed his Wichita State team today, making reference to a legendary Shocker as he attempted to pump them up for their NCAA tournament game against Pitt. He told the black-and-gold clad group that Antoine Carr had contacted him earlier that same day and told him that his team should “play angry”.
The Shockers did that, with Carl Hall (11 points, 6 rebounds) channeling the Big Dog, and Cleanthony Early (21 points, 7 rebounds) as a milder version of Xavier McDaniel in a 73-55 rout of the departing Big East power. The more mobile Wichita State big men went over, under, around and through behemoth Panther Steven Adams (13 points, 11 rebounds) on the way to a “second round” win over Jamie Dixon’s tough club.
As good as the Wichita State big men were, the best indicator that the Shockers may be ready to advance deeper into this tournament came from the perimeter. Not only did Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead (22 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) run the team efficiently, he was also the game’s leading scorer, hitting on a variety of drives and jump shots. In addition, Armstead and backcourt mates Tekele Cotton, Demetric Williams and Ron Baker harassed Pitt’s star guard Tray Woodall into a miserable performance: Two points, one assist, five turnovers and a very early exit on five fouls.
Looking ahead, the Shockers are likely to have a much tougher time with No. 1 seed Gonzaga (making the relatively safe assumption that the Zags will get past 16-seed Southern), a team that fields mobile and experienced big men in Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. The perimeter defense will be vulnerable to slicing and dicing by Gary Bell and sharpshooting Kevin Pangos.
The Bulldogs will have the personnel advantage in the round of 32, but Gregg Marshall’s Big Dogs will never be an easy out, as long as they continue to “play angry.”