Men’s Basketball looks to ride momentum into Fort Worth


Mia Hennen

Freshman Chaunce Jenkins and junior Qua Grant bows their heads before the starting five are announced in Koch Arena.

Wichita State’s postseason hopes are on the line this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas. 

With the only road back to the NCAA Tournament being through winning the conference tournament, the Shockers are preparing to win four games in four days. WSU feels confident entering Thursday’s matchup with Tulsa, following a two-game winning streak to close out the regular season.

“It feels like we’re starting to pick it back up,” freshman Ricky Council IV said. “We wanted to end the season with some momentum going into the conference tournament and I felt like we accomplished that.”

After starting off the conference season with four straight losses, the Shockers went 6-5 to close out AAC play, while climbing up to seventh place. WSU closed out the season with back-to-back wins over Tulsa and East Carolina, building momentum for a postseason run.

Head Coach Isaac Brown said the main difference in the past two wins is the aggressiveness from the offense. In the past two games, the Shockers are shooting 59.7% on two-point shot attempts, after going 54-for-117 in the previous three games.

Number one, (we’ve been) getting the ball inside to Morris [Udeze],” Head Coach Isaac Brown said. “I think Ricky [Council IV] and Craig Porter Jr. are really driving the basketball. I talk to those guys all the time about, ‘65% of your shots should be in the paint. The other 35% should be from the three-point line, and I want you guys, every time you catch it, to shot fake and drive it,’ and both of those guys have been doing that.

Despite finishing in seventh after the preseason expectations, the Shockers are proud of how they finished the season. WSU’s likely path in the tournament features two teams they are 3-0 against this season in Tulsa and SMU. 

The Shockers will have to do something they’ve never done this season in order to return to the Big Dance — win four straight games — but do it in four straight days.

“We’ve been expecting to go all the way and make it to the championship,” junior Craig Porter said. “That’s going to take winning four games in four days. So we’ll take these last two wins and run with it.”

The Shockers were able to close out Saturday’s win against ECU, which is a bright spot after struggling to win close games for much of the season. Porter and Council are both playing their best basketball to close out the season, and combined to score 27 of their 35 points in the second half. Porter registered the first double-double of his career with a career-high 10 rebounds to go along with four assists, two blocks and a steal.

The win over the Pirates provided some confidence after a 24-point loss at Memphis last month.

“This team has great character,” Brown said. “We’ve got good kids around our program and those guys don’t point fingers, they don’t listen to outside noise. They come into practice every day and they can take coaching. We talked about that Memphis game, that film, it stung a lot, but those guys learned from the film and they got better.”

There were some encouraging signs from Saturday’s performance, but WSU’s turnovers and offensive struggles have continued. While the win covered up blowing a 16-point lead, Brown said that WSU will have to improve on finishing up close games if they want to have a chance of moving on.

“It’s very aggravating because if you want to be a good team, you’ve got to play for 40 minutes,” Brown said. “You can’t have spurts like that. You’ve got to be able to put your foot on the gas and stay solid on defense and not turn it over. We just had some slippage there. For them to make a run like that, that’s just not good basketball. We’ve got to want it more.”