NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Gabe Blair #32 of the Wichita State Shockers dunks against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2011 NIT Championship game on March 31, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
One of the more successful mid-major programs in recent history - and one that has received a fair share of attention nationally - Wichita State won its first ever postseason tournament with a 66-57 win over Alabama in the NIT Championship on Thursday night. The victory caps off a tremendous 29-win season for the Shockers under the guise of 4th-year head coach Gregg Marshall.
Riding a wave of balance at the offensive end of the court and a their trademark stifling defense, Wichita State held the Crimson Tide to just 55 points in securing their sixth win against a power conference team this season, including their second against an SEC foe. As much as we know teams and players change greatly over the course of a season, keep in mind, this Shockers team stuck with Connecticut back in November, only losing to the Huskies by four points.
There's plenty of reason to believe more good things will be coming for Wichita State in the future as well. Leading scorer J.T. Turley and leading rebounder Gabe Blair by may lost to graduation this year, but the Shockers return their next top four scoring options in juniors David Kyles, Toure' Murry, Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland. A 29-8 campaign with a 14-4 showing in the Missouri Valley Conference may be hard to top, but Wichita State will have enough firepower and experience coming back that 30 wins could be in play depending on how their schedule breaks down.