Rushed Reactions: #9 Wichita State 72, #13 La Salle 58Posted by AMurawa on March 29th, 2013
Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) is reporting from the West Region semifinals in Los Angeles, California, this weekend.
Three Key Takeaways.
- No Shock. While Wichita State came into its first two games as underdogs, the Shockers were the favorite on Thursday night. And they played like it. Against a La Salle team featuring a variety of options around the perimeter, the Shockers displayed not only the athleticism and quickness to stick with all of those smaller offensive options, but guys like Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early – both bigger than all but one player in the La Salle rotation – operated with impunity in the middle. Wichita dominated on the glass, grabbing 45.9% of their own misses and 77.9% of La Salle’s, while outscoring the Explorers in the paint 40-26 (a number that was 24-10 at half). The Shockers never trailed and spent the final 36 minutes of the game leading by at least eight points.
- But Can They Play With The Buckeyes? The Shockers have time and again shown an ability to play with their opponents in this NCAA Tournament regardless of the style of play they face. Against the rugged Pitt Panthers, the Shockers fought them tooth and nail on the glass and dominated them despite shooting just 2-of-20 from deep. Against the high-scoring Gonzaga Bulldogs, Wichita got it done with improbably hot shooting, knocking down 14 threes. And against La Salle they locked up perimeter scorers on the defensive end and pounded it inside on offense. Ohio State is certainly a different animal all together, but this Shockers team has the athleticism at all areas of the floor to compete with the big favorite.
- Ron Baker, Late Season Addition. The Shockers missed their redshirt freshman guard for 21 games this season due to injury, but he is back with a vengeance. He scored 16 efficient points against Gonzaga and did a ton of other work, racking up a +19 plus/minus number in that game. Tonight he was his same versatile self, knocking down a couple more threes on the way to 13 points for the night and a +22 plus/minus (second on his team only to Hall’s +24), supplying heady passing, timely shooting and some great defensive effort
Star of the Game. Carl Hall, Wichita State. The newly shorn Shocker big fella controlled the paint tonight, knocking down seven of eight first half shots and grabbing six boards in helping his team build up an insurmountable 16-point halftime lead. While he wasn’t nearly as effective in the second half as the game turned into a guard-dominated affair (he wound up with 16 points, eight boards and three blocks), the damage had been done.
Sights & Sounds. Emptying Arena. The fans from the matinee between the more high profile teams stuck around for the first half, but with their emotional investment completed and a uncompetitive first half under their belt, many of them departed out to either celebrate (in the case of Ohio State fans) or drown their sorrows (for Arizona fans). Either way, after a night of a Staples Center packed to the rim with red, the second half of this game was significantly less crowded and quieter. But give credit to both school’s fan bases for traveling as well as they did. For smaller schools from distant lands, Wichita State and La Salle both brought a good chunk of fans who were there to the bitter end.
- “Carl Hall set the tone with just outrunning their bigs, and then we got some good stops. We had a commanding lead early and just were able to play with that cushion throughout.” – Gregg Marshall on Wichita State’s early run.
- That was the game plan early on, try to wear them down, pound it inside and get inside-out shots. And that’s what we came up with.” – Carl Hall
Wildcard. You Don’t Wanna Go To War… There was some discussion about whether the “You Don’t Wanna Go To War” song/chant that the Shocker band has taken to playing originated in Wichita or with the Virginia Commonwealth band. But make no mistake, this is a VCU song that was made fairly famous over the course of the Rams’ Final Four run in 2011. But, the fact that this has been co-opted by the WSU band (maybe they learned it last year in their Round of 64 loss to VCU) needn’t be held against them. Utah State stole the UCLA “frisbee chant” from them and have used it to great acclaim. That same Utah State student section, as well as San Diego State and several other schools, have made great use of the “I Believe That We Will Win” chant that was started back in 2003 at Navy. In other words, stealing, borrowing or, to use a musical term, “covering” other schools’ traditions has a long and proud history.
What’s Next? Wichita State’s magical run continues, as they’ll face Ohio State on Saturday evening (4:00 PM local time), while La Salle should be very proud of their accomplishments. They made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992, won a single game for the first time since 1990 and won as many as three games in the tourney for the first time since they advanced to the National Championship game in 1955.