The K-State men’s basketball team had a lot going for them entering their home game against Texas on Jan. 30. They were coming off of a pair of tough losses but still maintained a 4-2 Big 12 Conference record and a top-25 ranking.
Coming home to play a conference rival during a season that still held so many opportunities for achievement, it would be logical to assume the home crowd would show up in full force, right?
But if you took a look around at the crowd at Bramlage Coliseum during that Big 12 matchup, you’d think the K-State basketball team was scrapping for a bid to the NIT rather than in the midst of a conference title race.
The alumni sections slowly crept to near capacity during tipoff, but the student section remained barren in many areas. Despite having a basketball program then ranked 18th in the nation during a matchup against Texas, a program with which K-State Athletics has recently developed a rivalry, the students only filled up their allotted space by about half.
The lack of student support for the basketball program is absolutely embarrassing.
How could a student body be so disinterested in a major sport that their university has had both recent and traditional success in? The students’ apathetic attitude would be more understandable if this team was limping through the season without a glimmer of hope for an NCAA tournament bid, but that is nowhere near the case.
After a gritty road win at OU, the Cats are now in sole possession of second place in the Big 12 title race, only one game behind KU. It’s inexcusable for there to be anything less than a sold-out crowd at every home game for the remainder of the season.
Maybe we’ve become too spoiled with our athletic department’s success. The football team just won a conference championship and went to a BCS bowl; maybe their attention-grabbing season has caused some students to forget about the other K-State teams.
Understand this, as a student, you are attending this university during a golden age of athletic success. Having such success in both football and basketball is a rare privilege that not many schools around the country get to experience, so cherish it.
Imagine being a student here during the 2004-05 years, when K-State went to neither an NCAA tournament in men’s basketball nor a bowl game in football. I bet those students would have crawled on all fours to Bramlage for the opportunity to support a conference title contender of a basketball team.
The students who have been attending basketball games on a regular basis have been great. It’ll still get loud while the Wildcats are on defense and all of the chants are heard clearly, but it could be so much better.
We see it every year for the KU home game — the student section is packed to the brim and Bramlage becomes deafening on big defensive possessions. Why can’t we duplicate that on a regular basis?
Student attendance didn’t seem to be as big of an issue last year, and this team is much improved over last season’s squad. If it’s because Frank Martin isn’t the one on the end of the K-State bench, then that makes the situation even more embarrassing.
If you aren’t aboard the Bruce Weber bandwagon yet, it’s about time you hopped on. Weber has proven that he is the right man for the K-State head coaching job; his team has exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations. They went into a season filled with doubters who adamantly vocalized their opinion that Weber couldn’t find success here.
This basketball team has done everything to earn the respect and appreciation of the K-State student body and fan base. It’s time for the support in the stands to match the quality on the court.
When home games were still played in Ahearn Field House, Bob Knight once called the K-State fans in attendance “the greatest basketball crowd in America.” The success on the court hasn’t changed since those days, only the students have.
Donald Pepoon is a sophomore in marketing. Please send comments to [email protected]