INDIANAPOLIS — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall had a lot to say about Kentucky today as the teams prepare to play Sunday afternoon for a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.
Q. Gregg, can you speak to the coincidence that in 2014, you guys were the 1, they were the 8. The question was, how can Kentucky be an 8. Now it’s the complete reverse. John saying, how can Wichita be the 10? What do you think of that coincidence of this occurring with the same two teams, three years apart?
COACH MARSHALL: John can’t say that now because it was two days ago that John was saying the seeds are perfect. He can’t go back on that.
Q. He’ll be here shortly. You can tell him.
COACH MARSHALL: I already have. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not. They’ve got quite a sense of humor, then, don’t they, those guys in that room.
The bottom line is the only two guys that remember that game, other than you media people, are Coach Cal and I. Everyone else is new. There might have been a couple of my guys that were freshmen at that point, but can’t think of too many that played in that game that are going to be playing.
I think Willie Caulley-Stein is with Sacramento and Randle is with the Lakers, I hope. And I’ve got a few guys in the NBA from that group as well. In fact, we watched a little bit of that game with our team today just to show them how we countered Kentucky’s size and athleticism.
I mean, you saw Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet and the Kentucky players I just mentioned. That court was full of NBA guys. It was a tremendous game. I didn’t even realize it until after the game what a great game it was because I hate giving up that many points.
But the way they shot it, the way we shot it, it was back and forth. And it was after that game when everyone says, what a classic game. That may have been one of the best games in X amount of years in the tournament or the best game this year by far in the tournament.
I didn’t feel that, but what I thought was really ironic that year is we were such a polarizing team. We deserve a 1 seed. We don’t deserve a 1 seed. And you’re either on one side of the fence or the other. Then we get the 1 seed, but we get Kentucky as an 8. I think they hedged their bet a little bit. But in the end, it took a loss to validate our team, which I think is really ironic and sad.
Q. Gregg, what stands out about Bam Adebayo down low and what kind of matchup will that be like with him and Shaquille?
COACH MARSHALL: He’s a mountain of a man. He is a huge guy. He likes to jump higher than anybody on the court and dunk it through the basket. You can’t let him do that. You’ve got to keep a body on him, and you’ve got to box him out and put some doubt in his mind when he gets it low in the post, what’s going to happen next. And Shaq’s got to be smart, and he’s a little older and more mature, hopefully, and he can make him have to make some decisions how to guard us.
Q. Gregg, Kentucky’s had some inconsistencies this year, individual players and, also, as a team, highs and lows in games. How much more difficult does that make a team to appraise and figure out when there’s inconsistencies?
COACH MARSHALL: Well, I can tell you this, when we showed the video of Kentucky, we only show the shots that they make. So our players probably think they make about 80 percent of all their shots. Hopefully, they don’t do that. Hopefully, they’re all having bad karma tomorrow.
Q. Gregg, that said, does tomorrow’s game represent something larger with the possibility that you’re saying that you’ve been underseeded, you’re playing Kentucky, if you win, the implications with maybe the committee in future years?
COACH MARSHALL: I don’t know what type of impact it will have, Myron. I know we’re going to try our best to win the game, and I’m sure Cal’s group’s got the same mindset. We both want to get to Memphis.
We’re going to play as hard as we possibly can. Be gritty and grimy and tough and active and energetic and passionate and hopefully make enough shots and get a whistle every once in a while, and the ball falls our way.