- Veteran team with Final 4 experience.
- One of the best defensive teams in the country; give up just 58.9 ppg.
- Balanced scoring attack with 4 players averaging in double figures.
- Very good shooting team with 4 players who can consistently hit 3’s.
#23 PG Fred VanVleet: 5’11’’ 194 SO
A very good, solid floor general with NCAA tournament experience from last year’s Final 4 run. VanVleet seems to always make the right decision whether it is when leading the fast break or when running a set play in the half court. The sophomore guard averages 11.8 points per game and an impressive 5.3 assists to just 1.3 turnovers per game. VanVleet is also a very good on-ball defender and averages 2 steals per game. He won’t take a ton of 3-pointers, but does shoot 43.7% from beyond the arc so his shot must be respected.
#32 G Tekele Cotton: 6’2’’ 209 JR
Cotton is a very strong, physical guard with great rebounding skills; he will really mix it up down low. He averages 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Yet another dangerous shooter for the Shockers, Cotton is shooting 37.2% from beyond the arc this season.
#31 G Ron Baker: 6’3’’ 213 RS SO
Baker was a big part of the Shocker’s tournament run last season after being injured for the majority of the year. He is a very talented all-around player who handles the ball well and is a versatile defender who can guard the 1-3 spots. Baker averages 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals, and shoots 37% from 3-point range.
#11 F Cleanthony Early: 6’8’’ 219 SR
Cleanthony burst onto the national scene last March as a key contributor to Wichita State’s run to the Final 4 where he was named to the Final 4 All-Tournament team. He is a great athlete and an extremely talented player who can step outside and shoot 3’s or use his length and athleticism to operate and score inside. He averages 16 points, a team-leading 5.9 rebounds and shoots 36.5% from 3-point range.
#20 C Kadeem Coleby: 6’9’’ 251 SR
A very big and strong post player that isn’t really offensive-minded. Many of his minutes will go to Darius Carter off the bench. Coleby averages just 2.7 points and 2.9 rebounds.
#12 PF Darius Carter: 6’7’’ 235 JR
Darius is a big, strong post player like Coleby but with more offensive skill. He averages 8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He will play a lot of minutes off of the bench for the Shockers.
#15 G Nick Wiggins: 6’6’’ 192 SR
Wiggins is extremely athletic and will be aggressive offensively when he comes in the game. He is not a very good perimeter shooter, but he will put up some shots. He averages 5.1 points per game.
#0 F Chadrack Lufile: 6’9’’ 266 SR
Another big, strong player who will get some minutes on the low block. Lufile averages 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, he is the Shockers best offensive rebounder.
Wichita State Offense
- After watching the Shockers play a few times this season the thing that sticks out the most about their offense is the number of screens they set. They will set a lot of ball screens as well as a lot of pin down screens and double screens to free up shooters on the perimeter. Their players move very well off of the ball and cut hard so they do a very good job of getting open.
- With very skilled, athletic players at the 1-4 spots the Shockers will look to get out in transition when possible. Fred VanVleet is great at leading the fast break and Cleanthony Early runs the floor very, very well.
- They are an all-around good shooting team; 45.9% from the field, 34.7% from 3, and 72.6% from the free throw line. Four of their five starters, excluding Kadeem Coleby, are good 3-point shooters so they have the ability to really stretch the defense out.
- Their favorite play to go to late in the shot clock or when they need a bucket is a high ball screen for VanVleet. They will spot Early up in the strong-side corner so he will either get a catch for a 3 or VanVleet will drive it on in to the rim.
Wichita State Defense
- The Shocker’s defense has received a lot of publicity this season, and rightfully so. They are giving up just 58.9 points per game, which is 7th in the country in terms of scoring defense. They also hold teams to 38.6% shooting from field and 30.5% from beyond the arc.
- They will apply a lot of ball pressure at all times. Their guys really get up on opposing ball handlers to make it hard for them to easily get into their offensive sets. While they don’t force a ton of turnovers they do a very good job of making life difficult for opposing offenses.
- Wichita State will extend their defense to a full court press at times coming off of a dead ball.
- One potential weakness the Shockers have defensively that I have seen is guarding ball screens. They will “show hard” which means that the guy guard the player setting the screen will step out hard at the ball handler to try and get him to hold up just long enough for his man to recover. However, in the games I have watched, the “show” man has either not done enough to slow up the ball handler, or the ball handler’s man has not recovered quick enough and teams have been able to get some good shots off of ball screens.
Keys to the Game
- Get back in transition and really take pride in team defense. The Shockers are a good fast break team and Kentucky has struggled with transition defense this season, so this could really make or break the game for the ‘Cats. Once we get back in the half court it will take a team effort to guard all of the screens they will throw at us. To win games in the tournament against good teams sometimes you just have to dig your heels in and just will your way to a stop.
- Win the battle of the boards. Wichita State is a very good rebounding team and their guys to a very good job of “team rebounding” where all 5 players will go to the glass. If UK can get some easy put backs it could be the extra little boost that we need.
- Move the ball, move off of the ball, and work for good shots. Kentucky has a tendency to stand around and not move the ball at times offensively. Against an elite defensive team like the Shockers that is a recipe for disaster. Whether it be from penetration, getting the ball inside, or setting screens off of the ball we will need to find a way to get some guys loose for good shots.
- Continue to play our game. The last several outings have been some of the best games Kentucky have played all season. However, this afternoon we will be facing a team that is 35-0 so everything will be that much tougher. At the end of the day I believe that if we play our best game the Shockers cannot beat us.