The Wichita State Shockers gave everyone a history lesson Tuesday night. Everyone watching had a chance to look back and see all of the most recent teams who began their season undefeated and how they ended up.
Yet there was one thing that none of those teams had done. None had reached the mark of 30-0 during the regular season. That honor now belongs to the Shockers alone after a 69-49 win over Bradley in Peoria, Ill.
History is a funny thing, because it gives us moments like this. Twenty-two years ago, a different Wichita State team that was also ranked No. 2 in the country squared against the Bradley Braves. The team in red and white ended on the better end of that one, a far cry from the result in this one.
How do you go about understanding 30 though? Gregg Marshall likes to pick a thing or a player that represents the win the team is going after.
We looked for famous 30s. They aren't easy to find.
You have the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That has 30 stocks. You have ... well, that is about where we stop being able to find 30 easily.
Ok, so let's go back into the history of Wichita State. Eleven men who have played for the Shockers have gone on to play pro basketball. None of them wore the number 30 during their time at Wichita State. (Side note: a few players have worn 30 for Wichita State, including Ron Soft, who for some reason wore 31 on the road. 1960s basketball was a funny thing.)
But one did wear the number 30 for part of a season when he was in the pros.
Gene Wiley, a member of the all-time Wichita State team, and the Shockers Hall of Fame, donned the number 30 for all of eight games while playing with the Oakland Oaks of the ABA.
Wait, you don't know Gene Wiley?
Maybe fans of this Shockers team should know Wiley though because of how dominant he was on the end of the floor that this Wichita State team excels at.
Gene Wiley once had 15 blocks in a single basketball game, still a Wichita State record, against Purdue. You think Darius Carter wouldn't like to get to that mark?
You want better? Gene Wiley holds the top six single-game block performances in Wichita State history, five of them when he had 10 or more swats.
Road to Perfection
29-0, Shockers Cut Down Nets, More to Come
Wichita State executed its defensive plan to perfection and held Drake without a field goal for almost 13 minutes on Saturday evening, dooming the Bulldogs to become another Shocker victim. 29-0 with more nets still to fall.
Road to Perfection
Gene Wiley had four triple-doubles. All of them came in games when he had more than 10 blocks. That isn't conventional, and especially not so during the 1960s, a time when there was no 3-point line, and we are lucky that they even thought to record blocks.
One of those triple-doubles for Gene Wiley came against Tulsa in 1962. He had 22 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocks in that game.
Gene Wiley had two other games where he had more than 20 points and 20 rebounds.
Gene Wiley still has the 9th best rebounding season in Wichita State history, with 302 boards.
Gene Wiley once had 26 rebounds in a single game in 1962, the second most in a single game for Wichita State. That performance came against ... Bradley.
If you want a model for defense and hustle, here is your man, a guy that played angry before playing angry was even a thing. And he wore 30 at the next level.
This Wichita State team doesn't need individual performances like that, not right now. They have the ultimate team. Four players finished in double figures tonight, led by Ron Baker who had 15 points early into the second half and then let the rest of his team carry this to the end.
Three players had four assists in this one. Remember, this is a team game.
And altogether, this team held Bradley to just 27.1 percent shooting from the floor.
This team did it again Tuesday night, showing the country that they won't be intimidated, no matter the stakes, and no matter the team they are facing, and no matter how crazy that new team's mascot might be.
No, this team is on a mission, and along the way, they are thinking about the great players and things that mark their way, from win No. 1 to win number ‘who knows how far this can go'.
When you have a team that features three guys who will likely go on to get some long looks by NBA teams, and probably should have a fourth in Tekele Cotton if only as a defensive specialist, it makes a lot of sense to look at the pros who have come before them, and Gene Wiley was one of the best.
So tonight, maybe they should look a little longer at Wiley and remember a part of their history that is very reminiscent of the type of play currently hitting the floor for the Shockers.
Congrats to the Shockers, who made history of their own tonight.