Wichita State picked in bottom half of AAC coaches’ poll

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Wichita State picked in bottom half of AAC coaches’ poll

The AAC banner is unveiled during the State of the American event in Koch arena.

The AAC banner is unveiled during the State of the American event in Koch arena.

Matt Crow

The AAC banner is unveiled during the State of the American event in Koch arena.

Matt Crow

Matt Crow

The AAC banner is unveiled during the State of the American event in Koch arena.

Gregg Marshall is used to being doubted, but this season, he’s acknowledging the critics’ concerns.

Wichita State was picked by American Athletic Conference coaches to finish in the bottom-half of the preseason poll, released Monday. The Shockers, who finished a game behind Cincinnati for second place last season, were picked eighth out of 12 teams.

“You’ve doubted us in the past,” Marshall told the AAC’s Andy Katz, “This time, you’ve got some validity in your concern.”

WSU returns 11 percent of their minutes from a season ago, which ranks near the bottom of the NCAA.

“We’ve recruited a lot of AAC athletes,” Marshall said. “Unfortunately, they’re in their first year.”

WSU returns just four scholarship players from a season ago. Senior Markis McDuffie is the only player with more than a season of Division-I experience.

Still, AAC coaches recognize Marshall’s ability. He’s led WSU to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

“Anybody who doesn’t think they’re going to finish higher than eighth is crazy,” Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said.

Cincinnati was picked to finish second behind Central Florida for the top spot in the rankings. Houston was picked third.

Sophomore big man Asbjørn Midtgaard said it’s dangerous to underestimate WSU.

“I don’t think you should ever sleep on Wichita State,” Midtgaard said.

Ricky Torres, a junior college transfer, agreed that it’s too early to count WSU out.

“Nobody has played a single game this year,” Torres said.

Prior to entering the AAC last season, WSU had won three consecutive regular-season conference titles in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Shocker women picked 10th

The women’s basketball team was picked to finish No. 10 in the AAC by league coaches.

WSU Head Coach Keitha Adams has a rotation that includes eight true freshmen. WSU has two seniors and just five upperclassmen.

Under Adams’ direction, the Shockers finished their inaugural season in the AAC in fifth place.

UConn was picked to finish first in the conference — earning 11 out of 12 first-place votes. The Huskies had three players selected to the AAC’s preseason all-conference first team.