Rushed Reactions: #13 Marshall 81, #4 Wichita State 75

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish.

Three Key Takeaways.

Marshall is Perhaps the Cinderella Story of the First Round (USA Today Images)

  1. Marshall’s First Ever NCAA Tournament Victory. The Thundering Herd — First Round losers in each of their previous five NCAA Tournament appearances, the most recent coming in 1987 — notched their first-ever victory in the Big Dance this afternoon. Despite playing a “model mid-major” in the form of Wichita State, with its Final Four and high-seed pedigree of recent years, Marshall matched up with the Shockers well at nearly every position and kept the pressure on throughout. There was only one point where the Herd faltered — closing out the last three minutes of the first half — but for the rest of the game, Marshall played like it was the better team. Congratulations to the Herd for breaking through into the NCAA Tournament victory column.
  2. The Herd are an Incredibly Fun Team. Head coach Dan D’antoni is like his brother, Mike D’antoni, in the sense that they understand very well that shooting a lot of three-pointers is a good way to win. It may not ultimately win championships, but it can create mismatches especially against teams that may have superior talent or depth. With Jon Elmore‘s bombs-away mentality (more on him below) and the stretch-four Euro game of Ajdin Penava, along with a host of other players who can make threes, the Herd play an uptempo style that just simply gets after it. With West Virginia’s pressure defense along with the intense big brother/little brother rivalry between the two schools, Marshall could be poised to become one of the transcendent stories of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
  3. Connor Frankamp Gave a Career Performance in the Defeat. There was something off with Wichita State all season long — its defense was consistently lacking, Shaq Morris didn’t get the ball enough, and the move to the American seemed to create some other issues — but senior vagabond Connor Frankamp wasn’t going out without a fight today. The former Kansas transfer notched 27 points on the afternoon, including six important threes, on his way to a career-high game. It was he who gave his team life late when he hit a long three with 46 seconds remaining to cut Marshall’s six-point lead in half.

Player of the Game. Jon Elmore, Marshall. The senior guard electrified the San Diego crowd today with his long-distance shooting acumen on his way to 27 points (4-of-8 3FG), four rebounds and four assists in a full 40 minutes of action. There were two threes in particular that had the entire arena on its feet. The first, a 25 (27?)-footer from the left hash mark was impressive in its hubris, tying the ballgame up and announcing to the world that something special was about to happen. The next, well, you can see it here. It’s not very often you see fadeaway threes go down.


  • “He’s a great player. He showed that today. He hit big shot of after big shot. Controlled the tempo of the game, made his free throws. I thought there was a lot of plays in the game obviously, but one of the big plays was they had the ball out in a short shot clock, may have been 3 or 4 seconds and they had it in their end in the second half and they threw it to him in front of their bench and he made an incredible three-point shot. I think tied the game at that point. We had led up by as many as 7 early in the second half, and that was a big-time shot. — Gregg Marshall, referring to Jon Elmore’s fadeaway three that tied the game in the second half.
  • “No, I don’t think, at least from my perspective. I can’t read the minds of my players, but from a coaching staff perspective it didn’t change at all.” — Marshall, annoyed with the idea that his team would have a different attitude by virtue of joining a bigger conference than the Missouri Valley.
  • “Hell, I am still celebrating this one. You’re off on the other one? I have no idea. First of all, they haven’t won. Second of all, they’re going to have to do what we just did. We’re not ready for that. Let’s enjoy this a little bit and we’ll get ready for West Virginia and I really don’t have to worry.” Dan D’antoni, in response to a question about playing intrastate rival West Virginia next.

Sights and Sounds. By the midpoint of the game, Viejas Arena was mostly full. When Marshall’s Jon Elmore hit a 25-foot three to give the Herd a one-point lead, there was little doubt as to which way the crowd was leaning. Funny that Wichita State has become the hunted in these situations, when just a few short years ago, they almost always had the crowd behind them. It didn’t hurt that West Virginia fans were clearly also rooting for Marshall (well, most of them, anyway).

What’s Next. Marshall moves on to battle the winner of the West Virginia vs. Murray State game, which would be especially interesting if the only two Division I programs in the Mountaineer State ended up playing each other some 2,500 miles from home.

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