It was Sunday. It was cold, rainy and December in Kansas and 12,528 butts filled 12,528 seats inside Bramlage Coliseum. It was the highest attendance for any women’s basketball game anywhere in the country this season.
Yeah, it was the Wildcats against the No. 1-ranked and nationally vaunted UConn Huskies. As my good friend, and yours, Luke Thompson mentioned on Twitter, #ContextMatters. But the atmosphere was stellar for a squad that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, will likely go again this year, and has pregame highlight packages backdropped with blankets of empty seats.
Women’s basketball isn’t the biggest eyeball grabber in sports, it’s true.
But this team is good. Yeah, yeah, they lost to UConn by 17 today, but it was their first loss of the year and UConn has now won 84 straight games. #ContextMatters. Except for a 17-0 run for the Huskies in the first quarter, the Wildcats hung right with UConn, outscoring them in two of the four quarters.
Geno Auriemma himself said the team is better than they were last year. That may have been lip service, but based on my eye test, I’d say this is the best squad K-State has produced since Deb Patterson’s heyday. I doubt I’ll get much disagreement there. And people should see it live. If you live in Manhattan and you haven’t been to a women’s game yet (or a men’s game for that matter) you’re doing yourself and this team a disservice.
In postgame, the players said despite the loss, they appreciated the atmosphere. Kindred Wesemann said it kept them in the game at points. Auriemma had some thoughts on it, too.
“When I heard that this game was sold out, I thought, it’s supposed to be, because they’re a really good team, and the people out here really appreciate good basketball,” he said.
If it’s true that people out here appreciate good basketball, they should come see these ladies play.
UConn has already played and beat two of the best programs on K-State’s schedule — Baylor and Texas — and the Wildcats hung with the Huskies almost as well as those teams did. (Granted, those games were both played outside Texas #ContextMatters.) Transitive property is a trash metric, but there’s no reason to assume K-State can’t at least put up a really good fight for the Big 12 this year.
Come out and see it.
K-State plays Baylor at home Jan. 25 and ends its regular-season schedule against Texas Feb. 27. No. 13 West Virginia comes to Bramlage New Year’s Day, the Jayhawks come to town Jan. 11, and No. 19 Oklahoma visits Feb. 21. If none of those games are somewhere close to full, y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.
I’ll even practice what I preach. Today may have been my final game on press row at a K-State sporting event, as I’ve accepted a promotion at my newspaper, but I’ll attend as a fan. And I hope some of you will too.
Yes, #ContextMatters, but that context doesn’t have to be the opponent. Let’s put butts in Bramlage seats for more reasons than the numbers in front of the names of the teams these ladies play.
Auriemma said it best after the game:
“If 500 people that were at today’s game that had never been to a K-State game before come back for the next game, that’s a win.”
Let’s see if we can make it more than 500 by the end of February.