Kansans show off support for Jayhawks
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s already been a wildly successful season for the University of Kansas men’s basketball team. Being one of the final two teams left standing in a season that begins each year with more than 350 years is an accomplishment worth celebrating. But no matter how much you try to look at the big picture and take pride in just getting to a title game, somebody is going to be disappointed Monday night. On the other side, a large fanbase is going to celebrate, likely through Monday night into Tuesday morning. But after streets clear, the good times will continue. Will the party be centered or Kansas, or several hundred miles to the east? We’ll likely have that answer by about 11 p.m. Monday night.
There’s added excitement with two blue blood programs colliding in New Orleans. KU and North Carolina are connected in several ways with the Jayhawks’ historic success feeding into the Tar Heels with hall of fame UNC coaches getting their starts at KU. Notably, recently retired Roy Williams, a man who guided the Jayhawks to national dominance for the better part of two decades before winning it all three times at North Carolina, is in the Big Easy for the Final Four.
UNC last won it all in 2017 after previous recent-history titles in 2005 and 2009. KU is looking to end on top for the first time since 2008 and just the second time in 30-plus years.
Fourteen years, historically, is not at all long ago. But with each year, winning it all is a goal for a program like KU and contending for the ultimate prize is a realistic hope at the start of nearly every season. Fans of the winningest program in NCAA Division I Men’s basketball history are itching for another title.
As KU players try to stay loose and enjoy the ride, fans look forward to watch parties to celebrate the Jayhawks. On gameday, fans across Wichita are among many across the state and beyond showing off their KU colors. The KU Alumni Association is having its official watch party Monday night at Chicken and Pickle in northeast Wichita. The restaurant is ready for the fans, as are other businesses throughout the city, looking forward to serving food and drinks with the national championship game displayed on big-screen TVs.
In Wichita Monday afternoon, from stores to restaurants and places in between, you couldn’t miss the Jayhawk pride in Wichita.
For Quickstich Alterations Owner Juliana Chary, KU pride displayed at her business shows support for one of her grown children who is a student at the university in Lawrence.
“One is at KU, so my money’s there and my support is there,” she said. “As always, Quickstitch cares about Kansas.”
At the Waterfront in east Wichita, the men’s store, Gentry is also coordinating with crimson and blue.
“There are so many KU fans, we’ve got a lot of alumni in the store,” Gentry owner Parker Mitchell said. “I went to KU. Britt Fulmer, the former owner of the store, he graduated from KU. So, we’ve got quite a bit of KU fans that are following and come in.”
Local restaurant Deano’s is another watch-party host.
“Business has been really great,” Deano’s General Manager Ashleigh Richards said. “We are a local restaurant, so the people who come in and support us and choose to have a fun time with us, it’s just like so heartwarming to have those people to come in. “We have the same people who have been coming in every single game who are having a good time. So, it’s really just been helping business so much.”
In Lawrence, the state’s biggest watch party is on KU’s campus, inside the arena where the Jayhawks play. Hours before the 8:20 p.m. tip-off, fans started to line up outside Allen Field House. KU’s athletic department plans to open the historic arena’s doors at 7:15 p.m.
Brad Crowe is among KU fans from Wichita who drove to Lawrence to be part of the crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse watching the national broadcast of the game.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t watch it from the parking lot. Just being here at Allen Fieldhouse and watching hopefully, a national championship Kansas game. Everybody’s excited but a little nervous that I’ve seen,” Crowe said.
Monday afternoon brought a sense of the calm before the storm on Lawrence’s main street that runs through its central business district, Massachusetts Street, more commonly known as “Mass Street.”
If KU wins, the street will be filled with celebrating fans, especially students who didn’t make the trip to Lawrence.
If you plan on laying low and watching the national championship game at home, you should know that this year, because of the NCAA’s contract with Turner Broadcasting, game won’t be on CBS (KWCH, locally). It will be aired on TBS. No cable is required. TBS is available on YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, DirecTV and Stream, Sling. You can also catch the game online here: NCAA March Madness Live.
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