Gregg Marshall on Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker: ‘college basketball icons’

Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall wasn’t surprised to find out the NCAA Selection Committee gave his team the 11-seed in the South Region of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a seed that puts his team up against the Vanderbilt Commodores in a play-in game on Tuesday night.

“Honestly it’s what I kind of expected,” Marshall told The Jim Rome Show on Monday. “I was hoping for a little bit better seed, but I knew that the advance analytics helped in that regard, but our Top 50 wins were going to cause us some problems, and obviously, just to split the difference, I guess the committee said ok even though Ken Pom has them as an 11 and Sagarin a Top 25, RPI is mid-40s, so let’s put them in Dayton and make them earn their way with the first four.”

The 2014 National Coach of The Year acknowledged the difficult job the committee has putting together the bracket and doesn’t lose sleep over their lay. “I really don’t get worked up too much about the seeds. This tournament is so wide open. I know that if we go play well, we will advance. If we don’t, we can lose to anyone in the field,” Marshall said.

With one of the best defensive teams in the country, Marshall said their blueprint for tournament success is easy, “We make shots, we will make a deep run.”

Marshall continued, “That’s been our problem of late, scoring the basketball. We’ve really defended at a high level. Hopefully, we can do that continually through this tournament, and we’re going to have to catch a heater. We’re going to have to make some shots. The guys went 2-for-24 [from three point range] against a very good Northern Iowa team in our conference tournament to lose. That’s not going to be a recipe for success. We’re going to have to knock down the open jumpers, get it to the rim and score inside and get to the line some, but our defense has to be in that hip pocket every single night, because we can still win with a decent percentage from the field, but if we don’t shoot it well at all, like we did in the Valley tournament, it will be a short stay.”

This year’s tournament will end the college career of guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Marshall talked about what the two seniors have meant to not only the program, but the entire sport.

“They had opportunities to go and test their wears. They’re both graduates of Wichita State, they could have gone pro this past year and they both elected to come back,” Marshall said. “When we were so banged up, you mentioned at one point we had four of our top eight players out for a handful of games, and that was obviously a very difficult time for us, and at that point, we were playing the meat of our schedule from the non-conference perspective, but we did schedule up. We scheduled the twelfth best non-conference schedule in the country which we always try to do, but these guys, we were on the fence, man, but we got hot, we won 22 of our last 25, and they played very well, and I’m just so glad not just for me, but our program, and Wichita, and the state of Kansas, but for college basketball. These guys are basketball, college basketball icons, and they deserve the opportunity, one more time, to see if they can make another deep run in the tournament.”

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