LOS ANGELES — The Shocker fans in Los Angeles are now appropriately pepped.
Around 400 of them – twice the number that were at last week’s NCAA Tournament games in Salt Lake City – crowded into a lavish ballroom at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles this afternoon to pump each other up, get a few notes on the La Salle players, and hear a message from an authentic Hollywood celebrity.
“Most of you realize how special this is,” said Mike Kennedy, who announces Shocker games.
The gathered fans, all decked in black and gold, heard from Wichita State University Alumni Association President Debbie Kennedy, who had spent her morning hunting down singer and actor LL Cool J, who was in the hotel lobby with a camera crew filming scenes for “NCIS,” the CBS show in which he stars.
She invited him to the pep rally, but he couldn’t make it, she said. Instead, he sent a handwritten note, which Kennedy read to the crowd.
“Shockers: See yourself winning, then win,” he wrote. “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Radio commentator Bob Hull gave the fans a rundown of what to expect from LaSalle – a team of tough players he called “Southern Illinois University on steroids.”
“Forget the seeds,” he said. “Everyone you’re playing now is good. They’re either really talented or really hot and playing well. Right now, this team is both.”
Fan Michelle Wheeler, a former cheerleader, was invited to the podium to introduce a cheer she’d made up the night before, which involved a high-pitched “Wuuuuuuuuu,” complete with finger-twinkling jazz hands, followed by “Shocks.”
Led by Wheeler, members of the crowd practiced the cheer several times until they got it right.
The rally ended with a cheer from the cheerleaders and a group sing-along of the WSU alma mater.
“Let’s go scout out our next opponents,” Kennedy said, dismissing the fans to the Arizona-Ohio State game about to start at the Staples Center.