By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
the past week, Wichita State players said the right things about playing
in the National Invitation Tournament. On Wednesday night, they did all
the right things.
The Shockers hammered Nebraska 76-49 at Koch Arena,
leading by 20 or more points the entire second half. WSU made its first
two three-pointers to start a red-hot shooting night that totaled 11
threes and buried the Huskers.
“When we’re shooting like that, it spreads,” WSU
guard Graham Hatch said.
Fourth-seeded WSU (25-8) will play at Virginia Tech
(22-11) at 10 a.m. Sunday in the NIT’s second round. The Hokies,
top-seeded in their part of the bracket, defeated Bethune-Cookman 79-54
After Wednesday, there isn’t any doubt the Shockers
want to keep playing, even after a disappointing season stretch that
ruined NCAA Tournament dreams. WSU beat down the Huskers from the tip,
playing with more aggressiveness and purpose. It didn’t take the
Shockers long to figure out the NIT is a lot of fun when the ball goes
in the basket.
“That’s about as well as we’ve played in a while,”
WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “The guys really did a great job passing
the ball. We got some very good looks.”
Nebraska (19-13) never recovered from WSU jetting to
a 10-0 lead. The Huskers trailed the entire game and didn’t muster any
kind of rally after falling behind by 15 points with 10 minutes to play
in the first half. Perhaps stunned by WSU’s burst, the Huskers didn’t
show much composure or fight early in the game.
WSU’s Gabe Blair blocked two shots, discouraging
Nebraska’s big men, and the Huskers clanked three after three.
“You get out-scored 27 points at the three-point
line, you’re not going to win many ballgames,” Huskers coach Doc Sadler
said. “Wichita State, obviously, was a very, very, very good basketball
team tonight. We didn’t give them any pressure at all from the get-go.”
Those first few minutes erased any doubt about WSU’s
motivation and offensive execution. Senior J.T. Durley passed out of a
double-team to Toure Murry, who found Joe Ragland for a three-pointer.
Durley then passed to Hatch, freed by a Blair screen, for another three.
After a Nebraska turnover, Murry made a short jumper
for an 8-0 lead. After an offensive rebound by Ragland, Hatch was fouled
and made two free throws for a 10-0 lead with 16:05 remaining in the
“Their team played like it was one-and-done deal,”
Sadler said. “My team didn’t.”
The Shockers also played like a team freed from the
shackles of Missouri Valley Conference defense. Durley shredded
Nebraska’s double-teams, finding open teammates for shots or to start a
chain of passes that led to scores. WSU made 11 of 26 threes, tying its
season high. It made 24 of 52 shots (46.2 percent), its best since
making 57.7 percent at Northern Iowa on Feb. 12.
“We’ve been working on our offense a lot,” Durley
said. “In the last few games, our offense hasn’t been great, not a lot
The Huskers quit doubling late in the game, too late
to make a difference.
“Their inside game has been their strength,” Sadler
said. “We didn’t just show up here without having a clue what they were
going to do. Everyone said that you need to make sure their inside
people are the people that you defend.”
The Huskers cut the lead to 10-7. Then WSU’s
Demetric Williams made a three to start a 14-2 run. Nebraska didn’t get
closer than 12 the rest of the game.
“It just seemed like every time we made a shot or
made a play, they made one,” Nebraska forward Brandon Ubel said. “They
had an answer for everything we did.”
By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
Va.- Wichita State recruited Joe Ragland for a moment like that one. He
can, in the lingo of coaches, get to the rim.
Fast. Really fast.
Ragland's dash ended with a floater in the lane with
2.6 seconds to play to give WSU a two-point lead. After a turnover and a
free throw, the fourth-seeded Shockers celebrated Sunday's 79-76
overtime win against top-seeded Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum.
"I can use my speed to help me," Ragland said. "The
middle was so wide open, and I was like 'I've got to go.' I just pushed
the ball, and I made a play."
Ragland's coast-to-coast basket takes a lofty spot
in Shocker lore for pushing them ahead in a tournament that
traditionally frustrates. WSU (26-8) advances to the NIT quarterfinals
for the first time in 12 trips and is one win from playing in Madison
Square Garden. And it's a home game — Wednesday against sixth-seeded
College of Charleston at Koch Arena.
"One last home game — for real this time," WSU
senior Gabe Blair said. "It's going to be nice in front of the fans that
got us to 26 (wins)."
Ragland started his charge after a Virginia Tech
layup tied it 76-all with nine seconds to play. Toure Murry passed the
ball in quickly. Ragland, after getting a look at the defense, wanted to
attack before the Hokies (22-12) could organize.
Smart move. Really smart.
"I knew we had to get the ball out quick, because I
thought they were going to press," Murry said. "Joe just took it, took
it the full length. Big-time play."
Ragland's decisiveness caught the Hokies in retreat.
"I saw that they were kind of excited and
scattered," he said. "I got the ball and made a play while they were not
really paying attention."
Ragland's path to the basket wasn't without
obstacles. Virginia Tech's Erick Green, whose steal led to the tying
layup by Terrell Bell, tried to slow Ragland. Ragland used a
behind-the-back dribble to elude him near the three-point line. Once
Ragland slipped Green, he took off close to the foul line, sailing over
the ACC logo in the lane and rolled in the winner.
"I should have stayed in the front of the ball,"
Green said. "I didn't want to foul, but hand's-down I should have stayed
in front of the ball."
Virginia Tech had to go the length of the court.
Guard Malcolm Delaney, who scored 30 points, took the inbound pass near
the foul line and turned to dribble up court. With Murry on him, he
stepped out of bounds with 1.3 seconds to play while throwing up a
desperate shot. The Hokies wanted a foul. WSU got the ball and the win.
"He stuck his leg out and I went out of bounds,"
Delaney said. "It could have been contact, and it could not have
been.... The refs did a good job. I thought I had a clear lane until he
stuck his leg out."
Murry didn't feel contact.
"I didn't touch him," he said. "I saw him break
loose, and I got in front of him to try to make him turn the ball over
and he stepped out of bounds."
After the turnover, Murry made a free throw with 0.9
seconds to play. He missed the second and grabbed the rebound to send
the Shockers home happy.
Ragland thought he won the game in regulation. His
bank shot in the final seconds rolled off the rim with the score tied
"Every shot I take, I swear I think it's going in,"
he said. "I thought the first one would roll in for me. I guess
everything happens for a reason."
WSU's depth took over with an extra five minutes to
play. Virginia Tech played without forward Jeff Allen, who fouled out
with 6:12 to go. Center Victor Davila, playing with an injured right
shoulder, sat out the overtime.
The Shockers didn't have center J.T. Durley, who
fouled out 34 seconds into overtime. That gave backup center Garrett
Stutz, guarded by 6-foot-7 reserve Manny Atkins, ownership of the lane.
He scored WSU's first seven points in overtime, providing a 76-74 lead.
"That was the key to the game, them bringing him
in," Delaney said. "That's a tough matchup for any wing guy. We tried to
double, but he was too far in the paint for us to get there and help
The Shockers made 10 of 20 three-pointers with
Durley, Murry, Ragland and Graham Hatch each making two. Durley's three
with 47 seconds to play tied it 69-all in regulation.
Murry led WSU with 15 points, 11 in the second half,
and he grabbed seven rebounds. Hatch added 14 points.
By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
One day after a miserable loss in the Missouri
Valley Conference Tournament, Wichita State players met and decided they
wanted to keep playing.
They vowed to take the National Invitation
They can hold their next team meeting in New York,
where it will be time to take winning a championship seriously. The
Shockers defeated the College of Charleston 82-75 on Wednesday in the
quarterfinals of the NIT. The next stop is Madison Square Garden for the
semifinals on Tuesday against Washington State, a 69-66 overtime winner
over Northwestern late Wednesday night.
“They set it as a goal to get to New York,” WSU
coach Gregg Marshall said. “Now we’ve got to establish a different
WSU (27-8) ties a school record with its 27th win
and becomes the first MVC school to make the semifinals of the NIT since
Bradley won it in 1982. The Shockers, in 11 previous NIT appearances,
didn’t advance past the quarterfinals.
When Wednesday’s game ended, after WSU held off a
Cougars rally, the speakers blared Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”
and the sell-out crowd roared. WSU’s David Kyles and J.T. Durley danced
at half court and shared a flying chest bump. The celebration kept going
long after the game, with fans waiting for autographs and players making
plans to see the big city.
“It’s a great feeling to play in Madison Square
Garden,” Durley said. “That’s what all the great players in the NBA talk
about — to play in Madison Square Garden.”
WSU continued its resurgence in the NIT with another
display of offensive execution and unselfish basketball. The Shockers
shot 54.7 percent from the floor and handed out 20 assists on 29
baskets. They led for the game’s final 25 minutes, stretching the edge
to as many as 21 points in the second half.
“New York will love having Wichita State,” said
Charleston coach Bobby Cremins, a New Yorker coaching in his sixth NIT.
“I’m impressed with the balance of Wichita State, and I think they’re
going to have a great shot.”
Cremins certainly saw the best of WSU. The Shockers
closed the first half with an 18-6 run to break a tie game. Durley and
Blair worked over the smaller Cougars in the lane. Both scored eight
points in the first half to help WSU lead 37-25. Blair finished with 16
and eight rebounds. Durley added 14 points.
“They weren’t deep, so we were trying to take it at
them and get in them in foul trouble,” Durley said.
WSU’s defense held the Cougars to nine baskets in
the first half. Charleston (26-11) averages almost 23 three-point shots
a game. In the first half, it made 1 of 3.
“We dug a hole in the first half,” Cremins said. “We
got a little excited, got away from our game.”
Charleston’s game is giving ball to guard Andrew
Goudelock, a senior who averages 23.5 points. WSU junior Toure Murry
used his quickness and long arms to limit Goudelock in the first half.
Murry chased him through screens and tried to ignore his pump fakes and
keep a hand in his face. When Goudelock got by him, Murry was quick
enough to recover and deflect the ball on several occasions. His
persistence forced Goudelock into eight turnovers, and he needed 27
shots to score 31 points.
“My goal was to be go where he went,” Murry said.
“Just stay on him.”
With Goudelock limited to eight first-half points,
the Cougars floundered.
“Drew had some really good looks and missed,”
Cremins said. “Then I started to worry. He was not himself.”
In the second half, WSU’s bench sparked a 20-10 run
that gave WSU a 61-40 lead with 11:51 to play. The Cougars never wavered
from their three-point attack. When WSU slowed its pace, the Cougars
rallied. They made eight of nine shots to cut the lead to 69-62.
Goudelock made 7 of 14 threes in the second half to score 23 points.
“You don’t see performances like that very often,”
Marshall said. “That’s a special, special talent.”
Graham Hatch’s three-point play restored WSU’s
momentum, giving it a 71-62 lead with 2:59 to play. The Shockers made
nine of 10 free throws in the final 1:38, never allowing the Cougars to
get closer than six points.
By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
NEW YORK- It is a familiar routine these past two
weeks. No matter the city or opponent, Wichita State basketball coach
Gregg Marshall comes to the interview room, takes a drink, and tells the
audience this is the best his team played in a long time.
He needs a new line. The Shockers are playing this
well every game. Wichita State embarrassed Washington State 75-44 on
Tuesday night in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at
Madison Square Garden (video).
“They seem to be getting better, which is what you
want your teams to do,” Marshall said. “You bloom where you’re planted,
and we are planted in this tournament. It’s a great tournament, and here
we are in New York with a chance to play for a championship.”
Wichita State (28-8) plays Alabama (25-11) in
Thursday’s 6 p.m. championship game. It is the first title game in a
national tournament for the Shockers, who lost in the semifinals of the
1965 NCAA Final Four.
“We’ve got one more, and we’ve got to get ready for
that one,” Wichita State guard Joe Ragland said. “One more would be even
The Shockers set a school record for wins in a
season in a surprisingly easy fashion. Washington State (22-13) finished
9-9 in the Pacific-10 Conference and beat NCAA Tournament teams
Washington (twice) and Southern Cal. The Cougars showed none of that
stuff against the Shockers. Washington State shot 29.4 percent and
missed all 10 of its three-pointers. It showed no interest in banging
with the Shockers in the lane. Wichita State out-rebounded Washington
State 52-25 and outscored it 48-18 in the lane.
didn’t feel too good,” Cougars coach Ken Bone said. “They are just
bigger and stronger.”
Wichita State never trailed, never struggled and
never eased up. It led 7-0 after the Cougars missed their first six
The Shockers then turned the rest of the first half
over to junior center Garrett Stutz. He scored 18 points on 7-of-9
shooting in 13 minutes. He finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, three
assists and two blocks.
“He was just a beast tonight,” Marshall said.
Stutz scored his first points with a three-pointer,
giving Wichita State a 10-2 lead. After that, he made the lane his home.
His layup made it 12-4. He tipped in a miss by Ben Smith for a 14-4
lead. He tipped in another miss to make it 20-8. His dunk made it 29-16.
When the Cougars defended him, he passed to Graham Hatch for an open
three-pointer and a 34-19 lead.
“As a team, we were flowing together,” Stutz said.
“Really good ball movement — our guards were moving it really well.”
Washington State failed to recover. Foul trouble
limited leading scorer Klay Thompson to eight minutes in the first half.
He finished with six points on 1-of-10 shooting, 16 below his
“It was terrible, picking up three fouls in the
first half,” Thompson said. “That’s really stupid play on my part, and
it’s tough ending the season that way.”
With Thompson limited by fouls and Toure Murry’s
defense, the Cougars collapsed.
“We just depend on him probably too much because
he’s such a great player,” Bone said. “He got his third (foul),
actually, on a charge in the first half when he was trying to be
aggressive. And I just think it took a lot out of him, and when it takes
a lot out of him, it takes a lot out of us.”
Wichita State took its 17-point halftime lead and
dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half to turn the game into
a laugher. The Shockers ran and dunked. They made threes. They led by as
many as 35 in the second half and got the game to their walk-ons with
three minutes remaining.
“We just played with a lot of intensity
defensively,” Ragland said. “After awhile it seemed like we were out
there getting the players that really don’t play a lot to score.”
March 31, 2011
YORK- The players flooded off the Wichita
State bench, jumping together near the
corner of the floor. Gregg Marshall smiled
and pumped his fist. A few thousand fans
dressed in yellow stood on their feet,
cheering for a championship.
Good luck convincing any of them that they
didn't deserve it.
Or that they didn't belong in a more
prestigious postseason tournament.
J.T. Durley and Graham Hatch scored 12
points each to lead a balanced offense, and
the fourth-seeded Shockers simply
overwhelmed top-seeded Alabama 66-57 on
Thursday night to win the NIT championship
at Madison Square Garden (video).
Hatch was 4 for 4 from beyond the arc,
including back-to-back shots in the closing
minutes, as Wichita State (29-8) finished up
a remarkable postseason run in style.
"We obviously, as a team, have gone through
a roller coaster," Hatch said. "We came back
from those disappointments, we pulled
together, and it's just magical. It's
After getting left out of the NCAA
tournament -- and after hardly any critics
argued on their behalf -- the Shockers left
little doubt they should have been selected.
They beat Nebraska by 27 points, won at
Virginia Tech, beat College of Charleston,
then set a school record for wins in a
season with a 75-44 romp over Washington
State in the semifinals.
They added one more victory against the
"Give them credit. They made the plays they
needed to make," said Alabama coach Anthony
Grant, who plans to return home and watch
his former team, VCU, play in the Final Four
this weekend. The Rams face Butler on
"I'm really proud of what our guys were able
to accomplish over the course of the
season," Grant said. "We grew, and we
learned over the course of the year, and I
think as a basketball team we got better,
and really as a coach, that's what you want
to be able to do."
Tony Mitchell had 13 points and 12 rebounds
for Alabama (25-12), though he didn't get
much help. Leading scorer JaMychal Green
struggled with foul trouble and finished
with 12 points, and Trevor Releford and
Charvez Davis had 10 each.
"JaMychal is a key player to our team, he's
a threat inside," Davis said. "We had to
keep playing when he got out. We just didn't
make enough plays."
Alabama briefly pulled ahead in the second
half on a free throw by Chris Hines with
15:06 left, but Wichita State answered with
eight straight points to regain control.
Green went to the bench with his fourth foul
during the run, and the lead never fell
below five points the rest of the way, even
when he finally checked back in.
Any doubt about the outcome was erased when
Hatch hit a 3-pointer from the top of the
key with 4:13 remaining that extended the
lead to 61-52. On the Shockers' next
possession, Hatch set up from the same spot
and knocked down another 3-pointer.
two clutch shots helped him earn the
tournament MVP award.
"The ball was in the air forever, literally,
it seemed to me," Marshall said of the two
3-pointers. "The ball with its arc, the
majestic rotation, and it found the bottom
of the net."
Both teams certainly wish they'd made the
NCAA tournament, but they took advantage of
the chance to keep playing through March.
They both brought pep bands and
cheerleaders, along with a couple thousand
fans, despite visiting arguably the most
expensive city in the country.
They were loud throughout, too, with dueling
chants of "Go Shockers" and "Roll Tide."
The two teams sure played as if they
belonged in the other, more prestigious
postseason tournament in the first half.
They combined to shoot 50 percent from the
field, made all 14 of their combined foul
shots and played well enough on defense to
force 18 turnovers.
Wichita State managed a 37-34 lead largely
because it got the pace going in its favor.
The Crimson Tide came in allowing just over
59 points per game, eighth-best in the
nation, while the Shockers are 15-0 the past
three-plus seasons under Marshall when they
score 80 points.
They didn't get there this time. It turned
out they didn't need to.
"A special group of guys that deserves
everything they have coming," said Marshall,
noting his team shot 50 percent for the
game. "We're going to play defense and we're
going to rebound, and when the ball goes
through the basket at that type of clip, we
can play with anyone."
They proved that earlier in the year, too.
Wichita State led Connecticut for about 37
minutes at the Maui Invitational, then lost
to VCU on a last-second free throw in a
Bracketbusters game. The Shockers also lost
a tough game to San Diego State, which
earned a No. 2 seed to the NCAA tournament.
The Shockers returned four starters from a
team that lost in the NIT last season, and
were the class of the Missouri Valley much
of the year. They wound up losing to
eventual champion Indiana State in the
league tournament, though, and a down year
for the conference hurt their chances of an
at-large NCAA tournament bid.
They made the most of their chance to play
in the NIT.
"This is what you do it for, these moments,"
Hatch said with a smile. "We were
disappointed in our conference tournament,
so to have this opportunity to win such an
amazing tournament as the NIT, this
atmosphere, I couldn't imagine it."
Wichita had been to the NIT 11 times, but
had never won it.