Guest post by Lee
UNDEFEATED. Who would have thought those would be the last words of the fans at the end of a Wichita State basketball season. I made it to 15 of the 17 home games this year and not many were close. The longtime Wichita State fan in me is used to nail-biters that have previously ended in a bad way.
Earlier in the year the WSU athletic department highlighted a man who had been going to Shockers games for more than 50 years, and this got me curious about how many games I’ve been to in my life. I don’t fall into the category of the super fan who attends every game home and away but I’ve definitely rode the ups and downs of the Shockers for the last 30 years.
Being the sports nerd that I am, I not only have saved all my ticket stubs from games but have kept track of them in an Excel spreadsheet – so it would be easy to determine how many games I’ve attended. Yes, MeLinda still married me even after I disclosed this information…she has learned to tune out my weird sports quirks.
At the end of the 2014 Shocker basketball season I have attended 365 homes games. So I’ve spent a year of my life going to games. Then the other question that popped into my head was: does it make a difference if I go to the game. Am I lucky to the Shockers?
Yes, the Shockers have played their usual list of patsies through the years: Hardin Simmons, Monmouth, Rockhurst, Prairie View A&M and the PUMP California All-Stars. Though in those years we have had some embarrassing loses: Appalachian State, UT-Arlington, Coppin State, Hampton (no, not the hotel chain) and even by 35 points to Southern Illinois.
After adding up all the numbers, the Shockers win 78% of the games I attend. So going home happy on a regular basis is a good thing. Here are a few of the memories as I look back through my WSU ticket stubs:
I have seen some great games over the years, though the most memorable game I have been to was early on in my Shocker days. Eddie Fogler was the coach and the team was still relevant and hadn’t hit the terrible years highlighted by Scott Thompson. The date was Feb. 2, 1988, and the Shockers were facing the top player in the nation, Hersey Hawkins, who finished the year averaging 36 points a game for Bradley. This also ended up being the highest scoring game I’ve attended as the Shockers put up 116 points and won by 24. The other highlight/lowlight was when one of the Shockers cheerleaders was dropped and you heard a big thud when she hit the ground (she wasn’t hurt so it was okay to laugh about it).
In 2004, the Shockers were finally back in the postseason and played a great game vs. the Florida State Seminoles in the NIT. Yes, the Shockers lost in overtime but the environment was great and most people at the game remember it being the loudest Koch Arena has ever been.
The last time the Shockers played Kansas State at home was 2002 and ended in a loss but two years earlier the Shockers beat both Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home.
In 1996 we beat Virginia Commonwealth by 30. VCU later repaid us by winning in a Koch Arena Bracketbusters game to keep WSU out of the NCAA tournament and then beating us in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament. Before Bucknell became known for beating Kansas, the Shockers beat them by 19 points in 1995. Gonzaga hadn’t started its run to national prominence but the Bulldogs did visit Wichita in 1994 and lost by one.
In 1990 the Shockers dispatched of Oklahoma State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide were led by Robert Horry, one of my all-time Houston Rocket favorites. In 1988 we beat George Mason by 21 points and those wounds never healed and they came back for revenge in 2006 when they beat us at home and then ended our Sweet Sixteen run in D.C.
The year of the shirt was 2009-2010, when the Shockers won all their regular-season games at home until falling to Nevada in the first round of the NIT. I had worn the same Shocker shirt without washing it for the majority of the season – from the point when I realized we had a streak going. I did wear a shirt underneath it so it wasn’t that disgusting. I’m sure MeLinda enjoyed sitting next to me during that season.
So there have been a lot of good things that I’ve seen but there were also 15 years where the Shockers didn’t make the postseason and we had to sit through the coaching exploits of Mike Cohen, Scott Thompson and Randy Smithson. Scratching our heads over what happened to big John Smith and Boo Craft, why couldn’t Smithson and Maurice Evans get along or how did every top City League player during the last 25 years leave Wichita.
Slowly those bad memories have been erased and over the last five years the Shockers have been 72-3 at home when I’m in attendance and this season have had the best regular season of anytime in the history of the NCAA, which is a trivia question no one outside of Wichita will be able to answer in a few years.
These days there are 10,506 fans at every game and even my parents, who rarely seem interested in sports, are keeping tabs on the Shockers. The one crowning achievement to my Wichita State basketball viewing career would be to see the high and mighty Jayhawks make a visit to the friendly confines of Koch Arena and, of course, for the Shockers to kick their ass.