The Wichita State Shockers looks like a much more complete team then they were a year ago. Losing Cleanthony Early doesn’t help them, but the Shockers are ranked 11th in the county, so there is still a lot of belief in the team.
Wichita State has a few things working in their favor. First, they play in a relatively weak conference, as the Missouri Valley Conference doesn’t have a strong school outside of Wichita.
Just like last year, the Shockers should run the table and easily earn a berth into the NCAA tourney.
The team doesn’t have a very difficult non-conference schedule . Currently there is only one ranked team on its schedule, a December 3rd match up against 25th ranked Utah.
Some other non-Missouri Valley Conference team’s are New Mexico St, Memphis, Alabama, Seton Hall, and St. Louis. and a possible matchup with Nebraska.
With wins over New Mexico St, Memphis, and D-II Newman already in the books, the Shockers are on the path to completing their non-conference schedule unscathed.
However, the path to the tournament won’t be easy.
With the aforementioned loss of Early, the Shockers lost a big part of their offense from a season ago and it remains to be seen who will steps up in his absence.
Fred Van Vleet is a possibility, however he isn’t a big physical super athlete like Early. He is a fast, slick point guard that can get to the rim and shoot the three. His averages of 11.6 points and 5.4 assists last season were good enough to garner him preseason first team All-America honors.
However, with the loss of Early, the Shockers need someone beside Van Vleet to step up.
To get past the Sweet 16 they will need more than just Van Vleet, because he alone can’t lead this team to the promised land.
Fortunately, there isn’t a lack of talent on the Shockers roster. Aside from Van Vleet the team features Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker. Both players have the ability to take over the scoring load. In fact the backcourt combo of Van Vleet, Cotton and Baker scored 115 of the Shockers 247 points in their first three games, with Cotton and Baker averaging 18.3 and 13.5 points respectively.
With a high scoring backcourt and athletic frontcourt Wichita State has all the tools to make a run. While they might not be able to win it all come April, don’t expect them to go down easy.