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RH: Wichita State knows this feeling

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The Round House | 13-10-2021 15:09:00

Paul Suellentrop Byline

Pre-season polls are best considered for a few minutes and then put away until the end of the regular season.

On that day, bragging is allowed, perhaps required, if a team exceeded expectations. The Shockers had to do that on March 6 last year after beating USF to wrap up an American Athletic Conference title.

Forget the votes before the standings are final. If a team has waited until the poll for its motivation, it probably didn’t do the necessary work during the off-season.

The Shockers know all this, so they knew exactly what to say during Wednesday’s virtual media day sessions for the American Athletic Conference.

Wichita State is fourth, one point behind SMU in third. Houston, who is coming out of a Final Four, is the favorite. Memphis, after winning the NIT and landing a dazzling recruiting class, is second.

“I definitely feel a bit like that”, guard Tyson Etienne said. “It’s cool. They picked us last year to finish seventh.”

Wichita State Coach Isaac Brown didn’t seem too concerned. He is happy to have people categorize his team as young six newcomers and fight to stay in the top division.

“The most important thing for us this year is dealing with expectations,” he said. “We have a young basketball. Six new faces.”

Brown also knows he has Etienne, preseason player of the year, and returning starters Morris Udeze and Dexter Dennis. Again, he’s happy to let Houston and Memphis take the weight of preseason expectations.

Coming back from the pack has often worked well for Wichita State men’s basketball.

Whatever preseason expectations, the Shockers will be back in that position in 2021-2022.

In 2005-06, Missouri Valley Conference coaches chose the Shockers in fifth place. They won the title. Last season, American Athletic Conference coaches chose the Shockers in seventh place. They won the title.

Those teams knew how to feel about the preseason polls.

Paul Suellentrop includes Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for University Strategic Communications. Story suggestion? Contact him at [email protected]

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