In the past calendar year, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has led his program to an unlikely Final Four appearance and a consistent spot in the top 25 rankings.
Naturally, Marshall would also like the opportunity to take on in-state power Kansas, saying earlier this week that he’d previously offered a three-game series to officials in the KU camp: one game at Allen Fieldhouse, one game at the Sprint Center and one game at Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita.
Marshall could be wasting his breath.
Kansas coach Bill Self says he’ll stick with his long-held stance of not scheduling Wichita State, adding that he’s never heard from Marshall about a possible series between the two programs.
“This isn’t knocking Wichita State,” Self told The Star on Tuesday. “But if it was best for our program, I would reach out to them about scheduling them. But it’s not. I’ve heard a lot of talk about them wanting to play us so bad; Gregg Marshall’s never contacted me about playing.”
Marshall drew a little attention this week when he told Fox Sports Kansas City that he wanted to play Kansas but that he wasn’t interested in going to Allen Fieldhouse for a one-off guarantee game.
“I’m not going to just be bought,” Marshall told Fox Sports Kansas City. “I’m not going to go to Allen Fieldhouse for a check.”
When informed of Marshall’s comments, Self offered the same argument he’s said many times in the past.
“The one thing about being in coaching a long time and coaching at different schools and different levels is the fact that you understand that coaches schedule what’s in the best interest of their program,” Self said. “Nowhere does it say that they are obligated to schedule in the best interest of somebody else’s program that wants to play them.”
Self said he ran into similar issues while coaching at Tulsa in the late 1990s. He wanted to play Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Arkansas and other bigger programs in the region.
“And they wouldn’t play,” Self said. “But I didn’t blame them. And I didn’t make a big deal of it.”
Marshall, meanwhile, continues to build Wichita State into one of the better midmajor programs in the country. After leading the Shockers to a 30-9 record last season, Marshall’s program is off to a school-best 11-0 start, including a 72-67 victory Tuesday over Alabama, and a No. 11 ranking in The Associated Press poll. For the moment, that is seven spots higher than Kansas, which is No. 18 after a 7-3 start.
“It would be helpful,” Marshall said of playing Kansas. “But still, we’re putting ourselves in a position where it doesn’t matter if they want to play or not. That’s what we have to do. One day, when it behooves them, then maybe it’ll happen.”
Self, though, says his stance isn’t changing. He respects what Marshall is building down the road at Wichita State — and he praises what the Shockers are doing this season. But he sees no reason why a series with Wichita State would benefit KU.
“Certainly, Wichita State’s done such a good job,” Self said. “They got to the Final Four, and they’re off to a great start now. But it’s about a program. It’s not about a team.”