PULLMAN - When the Wichita State Shockers defeated the College of Charleston on Wednesday night to qualify for the National Invitation Tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden, the public address system in Wichita, Kan., delivered the Frank Sinatra classic, "New York, New York."
Halfway across the country, when Washington State knocked off Northwestern in overtime to earn the right to play Wichita State in the NIT, fans from the other WSU delivered a chant that they hope was music to Klay Thompson’s ears.
“One more year! One more year!” thousands of fans shouted at a smiling Thompson as he waited to deliver a postgame interview on national television.
Thompson, of course, is talking about possibly bypassing his senior season to turn pro. The junior guard continues to maintain that he has yet to decide anything about his basketball future except he desperately wants to help the Cougars win the NIT.
“You get to play in Madison Square Garden on a national stage,” Thompson said. “It’s really special for Washington State that we get to put our program in a great position to win this tournament.”
Wichita State (27-8) finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference before losing to eventual champion Indiana State in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The Shockers have an experienced team with good size and scoring balance. Senior forward-center J.T. Durley is the leading scorer with an average of 11.4 points. Nine others average 4.3 or more.
One area of concern for the Cougars (22-12) is that Wichita State ranked seventh nationally through Wednesday with an average rebounding edge of 7.9 per game. The Cougars often struggle on the boards, but they have out-rebounded four of their past six opponents.
Tuesday’s other semifinal matches Colorado (24-13) and Alabama (24-11).
Las Vegas oddsmakers made Washington State a 11/2-point pick over Wichita State. The Shockers have an RPI of 60. The Cougars are 82nd. The Shockers and Cougars had no common opponents this season. Shockers assistant coach Chad Dollar is the brother of Seattle University head coach Cameron Dollar. Cameron and Washington State coach Ken Bone worked together as assistants at Washington.
Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, New York, ESPN2
Washington State (22-12) vs. Wichita State (27-8), 4 p.m.
Colorado (24-13) vs. Alabama (24-11), 6:30 p.m.