Gregg Marshall has built Wichita State into a monster of the Midwest and, in the process, ascended as one of college basketball’s elite head coaches.
Now entering his ninth season at WSU and his 18th overall, Marshall (398-159 career record) is the only coach in Division I who has posted 30 or more wins in each of the past three seasons, and his .839 winning percentage (151-29) over the last five years is a national-best.
Under Marshall’s guidance, WSU has been on a steady rise, topping 25 wins in each of the past six seasons.
His Shockers followed up a 2011 NIT Championship with four-straight NCAA Tournament trips, including runs to the 2013 Final Four and the 2015 Sweet 16. The 2014 squad ran the table in the regular season, becoming the first team in 23 years to enter the Big Dance with an unbeaten record. That historic 35-0 start also earned him consensus National Coach of the Year honors.
Despite the presence of eight new scholarship players, Marshall led the 2014-15 Shockers to a 27-3 regular season record and a second-straight Missouri Valley Conference title.
In his 18 seasons as a head coach, Marshall’s teams have captured nine regular season conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament 11 times, while compiling a 398-159 overall record. He’s won seven conference coach-of-the-year honors, including a run of three-in-a-row from 2012-14.
Marshall (204-76 in eight previous seasons at WSU) needs just 16 more wins to catch Ralph Miller atop the Shockers’ all-time wins list.
Marshall has proven adept at spotting talented prospects and developing them into high-level college basketball players, with many moving on to play professionally. During the 2014-15 season, three former Shockers saw action – Gal Mekel (New Orleans Pelicans), Toure’ Murry (Utah Jazz/Washington Wizards) and Cleanthony Early (New York Knicks).
In Marshall’s eight seasons in Wichita, a total of 17 Shockers have earned postseason All-MVC honors, including 10 First-Teamers since 2010 (surpassing WSU’s total from the previous 26 years combined).
WSU’s depth and tenacious team defense has been a source of strength, throughout. Over the past five years, six Shockers have landed on the MVC’s All-Bench Team and seven more have earned MVC All-Defensive Team nods.
Under Marshall, the Shockers have become a top destination for some of the nation’s premier junior college talent. Nine NJCAA All-Americans have worn the black and yellow since Marshall’s arrival, including the NBA-bound Early, who was a two-time national player of the year prior to his arrival at WSU.
Marshall has also had big success developing coaching talent, with a rapidly expanding tree of seven former assistants who have gone on to accept Division I head coaching positions.
The latest is Steve Forbes, a Shocker assistant from 2013-15, who took the reigns at East Tennessee State in March of 2015. Other active head coaches include Earl Grant, College of Charleston; Dana Ford, Tennessee State; Barclay Radebaugh, Charleston Southern; and Zach Spiker, Army.
AT WICHITA STATE:
Despite adding eight new scholarship players to the mix, the 2014-15 campaign was business as usual. Marshall and the Shockers (30-5, 17-1 MVC) never dipped below 16th in the national polls and closed out their third MVC title in the past four years.
As a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Shockers landed in a loaded Midwest Region, featuring four of the 10 winning programs in NCAA history. WSU took down two of them in the first weekend, dispatching 10-seed Indiana (81-76) and second-seeded Kansas (78-65) to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons. In Cleveland, they led No. 3 seed Notre Dame with just over 16:00 to play before a sizzling, second-half shooting performance helped the Irish pull away, 81-70.
The team hit several milestones along the way, shattering modern MVC records for consecutive conference wins (27) and conference road wins (13). A second-straight unbeaten home record helped extend the team’s active home winning streak to a school-record 32 games, shattering the old mark of 23.
Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton became the sixth and seventh Shockers to join the 1,000-point club since Marshall’s arrival with Fred VanVleet poised to become the eighth. VanVleet also became the school’s career assists leader in early February.
WSU’s already stingy defense took it up a notch, holding opponents to 57.4 points per game. That figure ranked seventh nationally and was the lowest mark by a WSU team in 65 years.
Baker and VanVleet were Honorable Mention AP All-Americans and each landed First Team All-MVC honors for the second straight year. Cotton was a Second Team selection and earned Defensive Player of the Year status for the second time.
Northern Iowa mounted a challenge to WSU’s conference supremacy, dealing the Shockers an upset in Cedar Falls, but the Shockers earned some sweet revenge in the regular season finale. Both teams entered with identical 16-1 records in a winner-take-all battle for the conference title.
With ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasting from Koch Arena, the 11th-ranked Shockers surged to a 74-60 victory over the 10th-ranked Panthers and, afterward, cut down the nets.
In 2013-14, Wichita State won an NCAA single-season record 35-straight games before losing to National Runner-Up Kentucky in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Marshall was named Naismith National Coach of the Year, NABC National Coach of he Year, AP Coach of the Year and Henry Iba National Coach of the Year. He was also awarded the Adolph Rupp Cup, given to the coach "who best exemplifies excellence in his dedication to the game of basketball and to his student athletes."
In addition, Marshall was named MVC Coach of the Year for the third-straight season, after leading the Shockers to their second conference championship in three years.
The Shockers spent the entire 2013-14 campaign ranked in the Top 25, rising as high as No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls – the school’s loftiest ranking since the 1981-82 season.
WSU stormed through the Valley with a perfect 18-0 conference record, becoming the first in nearly 30 years to navigate MVC play with an unbeaten mark.
The Shockers continued their dominance during the MVC Tournament in St. Louis, winning all three games to capture their first Valley Tournament title since 1987.
After cooling off No. 16 seed Cal Poly Pamona, 64-37, in their first NCAA action, the Shockers played one of the great games in NCAA Tournament history, losing an epic clash to eventual National Finalist Kentucky, 78-76.
WSU ruled the conference’s postseason awards, placing three on the All-MVC First Team and one more on the Second Team. Senior Cleanthony Early became the first AP All-American of the Marshall era, landing consensus second team status, while sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet – the MVC’s Player of the Year – was a second and third team choice in several publications.
Momentum for the WSU’s historic 2013-14 season actually began the previous spring with a trip to the NCAA Final Four. The 2012-13 Shockers entered the year with lowered expectations, having lost much of their firepower from the previous year’s MVC Championship team. Early season injuries to three starters furthered that narrative, but on the court, the Shockers continued winning. They opened the year 9-0 and took the MVC race down the final night of the regular season before settling for a runner-up finish.
Early – a high-scoring JUCO transfer – was named First Team All-Valley, and senior forward Carl Hall took home Second Team honors
WSU was given a No. 9 seed when the 2013 NCAA pairings were released and quickly went to work busting brackets across America. The Shockers tripped up Pittsburgh and No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. The following weekend, they used quick starts to dispatch La Salle and Ohio State to earn the program’s first Final Four berth since 1965.
WSU led eventual NCAA Champion Louisville most of the way in the National Semifinal before falling 72-68.
The Final Four Shockers gained national attention, but the previous year’s squad may have been just as talented. The 2011-12 Shockers earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament but exited in the Second Round. WSU posted a 27-6 mark and cruised to the MVC regular season title with a 16-2 conference record. 7-foot center Garrett Stutz and point guard Joe Ragland became the first Shocker tandem in 30 years to both land on the All-MVC First Team. With a Feb. 18 win over Davidson, Marshall notched his 300th career coaching victory.
The 2010-11 team fell painfully short of an NCAA bid but laid the ground work for the program’s future success with 29-win season, capped by an exhilarating run the NIT Postseason Tournament title. Following victories over Nebraska, Virginia Tech and College of Charleston, the Shockers won back-to-back games at New York’s Madison Square Garden against Washington State (75-44) and Alabama (66-57) to bring home the trophy.
Marshall’s team showed steady improvement in each of his first three years in Wichita. After winning 11 games in his first season, Marshall wasted little time bulking up an inexperienced roster.
The 2008-09 Shockers improved to 17 wins, with wins in nine of their last 13 regular season contests and advanced to the second round of the CBI postseason tournament.
The 2009-10 team made further progress, earning votes in the AP poll, advancing to the MVC Tournament title game and locking down a spot in the NIT.
Prior to WSU, Marshall led the program at Winthrop for nine seasons, earning seven NCAA Tournament bids. He saved his best for last, taking the 2006-07 Eagles to their third-straight Big South Conference title and the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory, beating No. 6 seed Notre Dame, 74-64. He was named head coach at WSU on April 14, 2007.
The 2006-07 Eagles were ranked No. 22 in the AP and USA Today Top 25 polls. Marshall was named the Collegehoops.net 2007 Mid-Major Coach of the Year for his efforts, and also received the Collegeinsider.com Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award.
His final Winthrop team finished 29-5 and was the first team in Big South history to go undefeated during the regular season, posting a 14-0 mark in loop play, then sweeping three games in the Big South Tournament.
With the 29 victories, Marshall became the all-time winningest coach in Big South history, surpassing former Radford head coach Ron Bradley who compiled 192 wins in 11 years. In addition to the two National Mid-Major Coach of the Year awards, Marshall was voted the 2007 Big South Conference Coach of the Year, marking the fourth time he had received the award (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007).
Under Marshall’s leadership, Winthrop had six 20-win seasons and averaged more than 20 victories per year. He led the Eagles to seven NCAA tournament appearances during his nine seasons, including four consecutive trips during his first four years at the helm. His 2006-07 team established new Big South Conference and school records for victories with their 29-5 record. The 2005-06 team compiled a 23-7 record and came within a basket of capturing its first victory in the NCAA tournament.
During the 2005-06 season, Marshall became the winningest coach in Winthrop men’s basketball history, passing Nield Gordon’s mark of 161.
Winthrop went 16-12 in 2003-04 before returning to the NCAA Tournament in 2004-05 with a 27-6 record, after defeating Charleston Southern to win the BSC Tournament.
In 1999, his first year as Winthrop head coach after being named to the position in April, 1998, he led the Eagles to a 21-8 record, their first-ever Big South Conference regular-season championship, the conference tournament title and the school’s first trip to the NCAA tournament. Winthrop’s improvement of 14 victories over the 1997-98 season was one of the biggest turnarounds for NCAA Division I programs.
Winthrop received a No. 14 seed, the highest ever by a Big South Conference member, as the Eagles faced Oklahoma in the West Region at Tucson, Ariz. Sports Illustrated’s NCAA preview picked the Eagles to defeat the Sooners, but that didn’t come to fruition. Winthrop finished the year with a 21-9 record to give Marshall a 42-17 head coaching mark after two years. He led the Eagles to another Big South Tournament title in 2000 and a second trip to the Big Dance, and then made it a three-peat in 2001 as his coaching skills were put to the test. WU was hit hard by the injury bug, but still managed to compile an 18-13 record and make its third-straight Big South title and trip to the Big Dance.
His 2001-02 team also overcame a series of injuries to win a fourth-straight conference title and earn the right to face top-ranked Duke in the NCAA tournament and finished 19-12. The following year, Marshall again reached the 20-win plateau, but missed the NCAA Tournament with a 20-10 record, 11-3 in the BSC, after dropping an 81-80 overtime semifinal game to UNC-Asheville in the Big South Tournament.
AS AN ASSISTANT:
In 13 years as an assistant coach, the schools that Marshall was associated with compiled a record of 268-129 for a success rate of 68 percent.
During the two years leading up to his arrival at Winthrop, Marshall served as an assistant coach at Marshall University where he helped guide the Thundering Herd to the 1997 Southern Conference championship.
Prior to that, he was an assistant on John Kresse’s staff at the College of Charleston for eight years from 1988-1996 when the Cougars made the most successful transition ever from NAIA to NCAA Division I. During Marshall’s years at the College of Charleston, the Cougars received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 1994, and consecutive NIT invitations in 1995 and 1996.
While at Marshall, he recruited 1998 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Travis Young, along with MAC All-Freshman team member Joda Burgess. The 1997 recruiting class at Marshall was ranked by ESPN as the best in the MAC and among the Top 40 in the nation.
While at the College of Charleston, Marshall was instrumental in the recruitment of NBA-caliber student-athletes from the state of South Carolina, including 13-year NBA veteran Anthony Johnson, Marion Busby and Thaddeous Delaney. All three players were voted Trans-America Athletic Conference Players of the Year.
Prior to joining Kresse’s staff in Charleston, Marshall spent one year as an assistant at Belmont Abbey College (1987-88), and two years as an assistant at his alma mater at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA, (1985-1987).
Marshall received a B.A. degree in economics/business in 1985 from Randolph-Macon and earned the Master’s degree in Sport Management from the University of Richmond in 1987.
He is married to the former Lynn Munday of Bellingham, Wash., who earned her master’s degree from the College of Charleston. They are the parents of a son, Kellen, and a daughter, Maggie.