Wichita State Basketball: What Shockers Must Do to Upset Louisville Cardinals
Quite frankly, there aren't any more puns left.
As soon as Wichita State beat Ohio State in the Elite Eight, you knew it was going to be an overload in terms of the plays on the team's nickname, the Shockers. It's a name tailor-made for a mid-major like Wichita State, who's made an improbable run to the Final Four.
The last time the school was in the Final Four was 1965 and never once has it taken home a national title.
With Louisville, the Shockers have their toughest opposition of the season. The win over the Buckeyes was huge, and the effort the players expended was immense. However, they'll need even more against the Cardinals on Saturday.
It's impossible to play a perfect game, but Wichita State needs to be as close to perfect as possible in order to win. These three things will need to be a part of the game plan.
Continue Crashing the Boards
One of Wichita State's biggest strengths is rebounding. The Shockers are fifth in offensive rebounding, sixth in defensive rebounding and third in total rebounding. Few teams are as complete on the boards as them.
Unfortunately, one team as equally skilled at crashing the glass is Louisville. The Cardinals are seventh in the country in total rebounds.
The Shockers cannot get bullied on the boards. It's a large part of why they've made it to the Final Four. Creating plenty of second chances on the offensive glass will allow any team a greater chance of success.
With Gorgui Dieng, Wichita State must always have a body on him to ensure he doesn't go for a double-double. Plus, it's a terrible proposition to allow a team as talented as Louisville multiple opportunities to score on one possession.
Shackle Peyton Siva and Russ Smith
It's going to be almost impossible to stop Russ Smith. He's too talented and has been playing too well to expect him to have a terrible game. It's more a matter of limiting the damage he can cause. Wichita State would be much better off holding him to just 15 points or so.
Doing that sounds extremely simple, but it's a matter of constantly harassing him to cut off his supply and ensuring he can't get to the basket.
Forcing Siva into a bad game is a much easier accomplishment.
Prior to the Elite Eight, Siva had been struggling offensively, both failing to hit his shots or helping facilitate for his teammates. He was in foul trouble for much of the win over Oregon in the Sweet 16. Coincidentally, the Ducks only won by eight points.
The Shockers did a great job on Aaron Craft in the Elite Eight and will need to do something similar against Siva.
Play Fearless Basketball
This one is a bit of a qualitative task. Quite frankly, Wichita State needs to go in without any pressure. The players need to realize that they aren't carrying any expectations whatsoever. There's no need to play tight.
It didn't seem to be much of a problem against the Ohio State Buckeyes, nor the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Playing Louisville is a different beast, though, because of how talented the Cardinals are and their inspiration level after Kevin Ware's injury.
If the Shockers get down early, they cannot panic. Just keep chipping away at the lead. If the shots aren't falling, no need to start getting down and play tentatively. This is a good basketball team, and it needs to carry that belief on to Saturday, no matter how much people count them out.
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