Nicco’s Red Zone Blog
Wichita State Shockers | NCAA Basketball: Juggernaut in Big 12 Territory
By Nicco Martinez – Columnist for Silver and Blue Report & Hook ’em Report

NCAA, NCAA Basketball, Wichita State ShockersAside from ESPN highlights, I am finally watching #2 Wichita State play a full NCAA Basketball game….. They are legit. Usually, these smaller schools show up to the tournament with an inadequate defense and a lack of ballhandlers—not the case with this team.
They are red hot from behind the arc.  OMG … their 3-pt shooters all have great form (which pays off late in games when legs are tired). They hawk the lanes well on D, and create turnovers while playing solid help D. Their Achilles heel may be that their 2 big men are both only 6-9 and the Shockers may have a lack of overall team speed. But then again, the 6-9 power forward, Cleanthony Early, just casually setup behind the arc and swished consecutive 3-pointers, so if he is a dead-eye trey then maybe being 6-9 in the post is just fine.

Cleanthony Early is very reminiscent in “build and play” of Horace Grant and Harvey Grant of 20 years ago, but with better range. And then there’s 6-4 Ron Baker, with his floppy blond hair and gritty playmaking ability. My 10-year old son said, #31 makes a lot of plays. I replied, it’s because Baker hustles, BUT before he hustles, he understands where to be so he is beating everyone to the spot. Essentially, the kid always seems to be in textbook position.

I’m curious where this team will fall in the bracket. I’m curious if super point guard Fred Van Vleet can get his lower back to 100% (after being wiped-out in the Shockers last game) And I’m curious if they face “tall” teams in the early rounds of the tourney. After watching a lot of Big 12 basketball this season, it’s my opinion that Wichita State, with their patient & decisive offense with multiple shooters from 3-pt range, and their smart & assertive team defense, would have won the Big 12. Let me phrase in a different way, the Shockers are the best team residing in the state of Kansas.

Wichita State Shockers, NCAA, NCAA Basketball

Nicco Martinez, Columnist for and

Nicco Martinez, Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys, Texas LonghornsNicco Martinez, an Austin native, started covering sports in 1979 and has not since slowed down his love affair with playing, coaching, and writing about sports. He has written articles on both the Cowboys and Longhorns spanning 5 decades. Nicco can be reached at

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