Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Bill Self not happy with Arizona game attendance.
At least 1,000 Kansas University students missed a highly competitive, marquee college basketball game Sunday night.
The northwest corner of Allen Fieldhouse — normally packed with enthusiastic KU students — was empty for No. 4-rated KU’s 76-72 overtime victory over Arizona.
The Wildcats entered 3-1 and unranked, yet still boasted one of the country’s top players in Chase Budinger and a budding star in Jerryd Bayless.
And on the revenge front, Arizona defeated the Jayhawks the last time the powers met in 2005 in Maui and also handed KU one of its most bitter losses in school history — in the Sweet 16 of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
“To be candid, it was disappointing to our players. They pointed to this as THE nonconference game of the season, and there were fewer students than any game since I’ve been here,” fifth-year Jayhawk coach Bill Self said.
He first discussed the student no-shows when asked about it on his Hawk Talk radio show, then expounded in a phone interview after the broadcast. He spoke in a matter-of-fact, not angry tone.
“The students that were there were great, absolutely great. I’m not saying anything bad about our students,” Self said. “A lot of people (schools) wish they’d have as many as we had.
“But the game being Arizona and our players pointing to it as THE nonconference home game of the season ... obviously some of the student body didn’t feel the same way.
“It’s the smallest turnout of students for a game since I’ve been here. It was kind of frustrating,” Self continued. “We had more students for the Northern Arizona game when the dorms were closed for Thanksgiving than for Arizona.”
Self wants to make it clear he’s not down on the students, just disappointed they skipped Sunday night’s game.
“They’ll come,” Self said, referring to remaining games, including Wednesday’s 7 p.m. clash against ex-Jayhawk Rex Walters’ Florida Atlantic squad.
“I think a lot had to do with the timing of the game. It tells me Saturday wore out a lot of people. I was tired, and I watched it (Kansas-Missouri football game) on TV. A lot of people started at 10 a.m. (Saturday) and were rolling until 1 or 2 at night. Our players understood there were some reasons for it, but still were disappointed.”
KU isn’t the only school that has had some students skip out on games.
ESPN recently reported that more than half the home games at Duke last season were played before empty seats in the student sections. The fact students now have their IDs swiped electronically — instead of having a season pass — may have cut down on students giving tickets to friends on the nights they don’t want to attend.
“We have great fans. Our students are fantastic. I love our fans,” Self said. “I do hope that future games will be full. We have the best building in America, hands down. When our building is good (full and loud) most people say it’s better than anywhere.”
Posted by Scott James at 11:10 AM