Marshall: Shockers' experience means little against Indiana
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) As far as Wichita State coach Greg Marshall is concerned, experience is overrated when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
Much has been made of the Shockers having five players back from last year's team that was unbeaten until it lost to Kentucky in the round of 32. Three of those players were on the team that went to the Final Four the year before.
Much also has been made of Indiana, the Shockers' opponent Friday, being the youngest team in the tournament.
"I just witnessed UAB, which probably has zero NCAA tournament experience, beat Iowa State, which has tons of NCAA experience," Marshall said. "Once the ball is tossed, I don't think it means that much at all. It's just another game."
Wichita State (28-4) comes in as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest, and its 63-5 record the past two years is the best in Division I.
The No. 10 Hoosiers (20-13) have lost nine of their last 14. They have eight freshmen, tied with Louisville for most among tournament teams. Their average experience of 1.73 years per player is lowest in the tournament, according to STATS. Only junior point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell played significant minutes in Indiana's last NCAA appearance in 2013.
"Them being in the tournament the past couple years, that will help them," Ferrell said. "They've got more feel to the game and a little bit more feel to the big stage. We've got to come out of the gate early and swing hard, not get too hyped up about the big stage."
Wichita State brings back familiar March Madness names such as Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton. Fellow starters Evan Wessel and Darius Carter were reserves on last year's 35-1 team.
Indiana coach Tom Crean said his players need to match the toughness that is the Shockers' calling card.
"There doesn't look like there is any trepidation, any nervousness, when they play," Crean said. "They're a very, very confident group. And for one day, we've got to have that same level of confidence."
Folks in the Sunflower State, no doubt, are pulling hard for Wichita State to beat Indiana and for Kansas to defeat New Mexico State. That would set up a Sunday meeting between teams from the same state that haven't met since 1993.
"I can assure you we have not had any hubbub in our team meetings about Kansas," Marshall said. "We have been very diligent with our approach in terms of trying to beat the Hoosiers. We do have one coach who is privately working on Kansas. I don't think Kansas' name has come up one time. The hubbub is out here. We're pretty insulated and we're doing our thing right now trying to beat the team that wears the red and white, not the red, blue and white."
Here's what else to look for in the Midwest Regional matchup at CenturyLink Center:
MOSQUERA-PEREA SHOULD PLAY: Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the Hoosiers' best inside player, is expected to play after reinjuring his right knee when he ran into Northwestern's Alex Olah in the Big Ten tournament.
HOLT ON RISE: Emmitt Holt is poised to play a significant role for the Hoosiers. The freshman forward came on in the Big Ten tournament with eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of a win over Northwestern and six points, 12 rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals in 25 minutes in a loss to Maryland.
VANVLEET VS. FERRELL: One of the anticipated individual matchups is VanVleet vs. Ferrell. The two used to go head-to-head on the summer AAU circuit. VanVleet is from Rockford, Illinois, and Ferrell is from Indianapolis. "He was kind of a phenom in high school through our area," VanVleet said.
FAMILIAR TERRITORY: Wichita State used to visit the CenturyLink Center every season until Creighton, its old Missouri Valley Conference rival, moved to the Big East two years ago. "This is a great building. I always enjoyed playing here," Marshall said. "They've got tremendous fan support, and they filled this place when the Shockers were in town."
READY TO RUN: If Indiana wants to run, Wichita State will be able to keep up, Marshall said. "We're not opposed to pushing the ball and trying to score in transition ourselves," he said. "This could be a game where players could need some timeouts and some oxygen on the side."