This is the first Final Four appearance for Wichita State since 1965, but the ninth-seeded Shockers are no fluke. They're big, they're athletic, they rebound and they can shoot 3s better than just about anyone. Just ask Pittsburgh, a first-round victim of the hot-shooting Shockers. Or No. 1-seeded Gonzaga, which was out before the first weekend of the tournament was over thanks to Wichita State.
Or Ohio State, a fashionable pick for a third straight Final Four until the Shockers sent them packing.
(Pitino, by the way, swears he picked Wichita State to get to the Final Four.)
"Their whole team is tough. It's not just one guy," Siva said. "Macolm Armstead, of course, makes them go. But on any given night, anybody on the team can have a big night. It's up to us to play collective defense, hit the glass and continue to play how we've been playing."
Armstead is averaging almost 16 points during the tournament, one of four Shockers in double figures. Tekele Cotton is 5 of 10 from 3-point range, while Ron Baker is 6 of 15.
But the number that will catch Pitino's attention is 34, the shooting percentage for Wichita State's first four opponents.
"What you've got to do is not turn the ball over," Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. "If we're turning the ball over and giving them transition opportunities, then we're not doing what we're trying to do."
The key to avoiding that is containing Siva and Smith. Or getting them in foul trouble.
Siva, in particular, has a tendency to pick up fouls. He played only the first five minutes of the first half against Duke after getting whistled for two quick ones. He was in foul trouble in last year's Final Four, too, sitting the last seven minutes of the first half.
"I try to avoid foul trouble every game. Sometimes it just finds me," he said. "I don't know how."
Smith and Siva know they need to be more careful against Wichita State — but not to the point where it makes them cautious.
"We're going to keep our aggressiveness," Smith promised. "Nothing is going to change."
After all, the Cardinals have unfinished business. For themselves and for Ware, who plans to be on the bench Saturday night.
"One of our teammates went down," Behanan said. "We as a team have to step it up."
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