Ron Baker craved two things Friday evening: Powerade and spaghetti.
He consumed large quantities of both.
Baker, a Wichita State junior guard, did so after the Shockers defeated Indiana 81-76 in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament, setting up a much-anticipated matchup with Kansas on Sunday. The game took a lot out of Baker. When it was over, he felt dehydrated and battled cramps.
“I don’t think I have ever been so tired or exhausted after that game against Indiana,” Baker said Saturday. “Their style of play was tough on a kid that played 37 minutes, which was me.
“It was the first time this season I cramped up after a game. So I was pretty exhausted to say the least.”
Rest, relaxation and recuperation can be important for players during the NCAA Tournament, when teams play two games in three days. One minute, they can be scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds in a victory, the way Baker did against Indiana. The next, they can be preparing for the Sweet 16.
Wichita State did not face many quick turnarounds during the regular season, though it did play on back-to-back days at the Diamond Head Classic and the Missouri Valley Tournament.
For Baker, getting his energy level back up to where it normally is as quickly as possible was pivotal. Eliminating his cramps was also a must. Fortunately, he did not need to eat mustard or drink pickle juice, common cramp busters, to do so.
“I have just been drinking a lot of fluids, getting a lot of carbs at the hotel, resting up,” Baker said. “Coach has got a pretty light practice planned today, then we will be ready to go Sunday.”
When Wichita State hasn’t been at CenturyLink Center, Baker has been off his feet.
He treated Friday evening and Saturday morning as opportunities to refuel.
“I drank a lot of Powerade and water,” Baker said, “and then I ate a big plate of spaghetti for dinner.”
Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet followed a similar routine.
Like Baker, VanVleet was on the floor for 37 minutes against Indiana, leading all scorers with 27 points. He also had four assists, grabbed two rebounds and stole two passes.
It was an all-round effort from a player Kansas coach Bill Self described as “a true point that knows how to run a team.”
But it left VanVleet fatigued 48 hours before he was set to take the floor again.
“I was pretty exhausted,” VanVleet said. “It was a fast-paced game. The way I was attacking the rim and coming back and trying to contain, it was wearing on me. Luckily, I feel a lot better after a win.”
VanVleet spent his down time drinking water and taking naps. He also watched some basketball.
It’s not the way he envisioned kicking off his preparation for Kansas. Baker and VanVleet want to put as much into their next game as they did their last.
“By game time we will all be ready to go,” VanVleet said. “There is nothing stopping us.”