Wichita State basketball fans are feeling good about life. Rightly so, their basketball team is doing something it hasn’t done in 48 years, heading off to a Final Four, and who knows when the Shockers will do it again.
These are heady times for the black and yellow, and today I’m here to help with fan etiquette, especially as it pertains to going back to work and potentially rubbing shoulders with Kansas and Kansas State fans. And I know you have something you’d like to say to your contemporaries at Creighton, Shocker fans.
My advice, though, is to act like you’ve been here before, even though you haven’t. So in this column, as a public service, I’ll be going through some of the things that would be best left unsaid. You know, for civility’s sake.
We’ll start with Kansas. Again, Shocker fans, these are some of the things you should not say to a KU fan today or this week:
“Looks like there’s nothing to gain for Wichita State by playing Kansas.”
Such a cheap shot, even though that’s been the refrain out of Lawrence and Jayhawks coach Bill Self for years now when it comes to the Jayhawks playing WSU. You’re better than that, Shocker fans. No need to jump on the Jayhawks when they’re down.
“Really tough loss against Michigan.”
Come on, you don’t mean it. KU fans will see right through this one. Perhaps just a light pat on the back is the way to go. Sometimes, saying nothing is the best thing. And I know you don’t want to rub in the Jayhawks’ Sweet 16 loss to the Wolverines. I know, deep down inside, you feel their pain.
“How many points did you lead by in the second half before blowing it?”
Choose your words carefully. Verbs like “blowing” or “choking” when describing KU’s overtime loss to the Wolverines will only raise tension. If you’re not sure how big the Jayhawks’ second-half lead was, look it up. It was 14 points with less than seven minutes left, by the way. Then it was five with 21 seconds left. But I don’t think you need to mention any of that. Remember, a light pat on the back says it all.
Now for the things not to say to a Kansas State basketball fan:
“Boy, it sure seems like you were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament a long time ago.”
Why go there? That’s just mean and you’re above it, Shocker fans. Sure, it’s an accurate statement. The Wildcats were ousted from the tournament a long time ago — in the second round. But there’s no need to remind K-Staters.
“La Salle? How’d you lose to La Salle?”
Wichita State, of course, thumped La Salle in the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. It wasn’t a game. La Salle looked out of place so deep in the tournament and all of that Philly toughness the Explorers talked about leading up to the game was just talk. But why be arrogant? Why diminish K-State? Sure, it was a bad loss. Puzzling, even. But show some compassion.
“Hey, at least you have spring football.”
This is risky, Shocker fans. The obvious retort from a K-State fan would be: “Yeah, and you don’t.” So be careful. I’d just stay away from the football thing if I were you because it is an area of strength for Kansas State. You could get burned.
And finally, the things you should absolutely not say to a Creighton fan:
“Hey, mind if I compare the size of that Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship trophy to the West Regional championship trophy we won?”
So petty. So unnecessary. Creighton won the Valley regular season and tournament championships fair and square, beating Wichita State to get them. Give the Bluejays some credit.
“Tough deal having the best player in your history and never making it to a Sweet 16.”
While it’s nice of you to acknowledge Bluejays junior forward Doug McDermott, there has to be a less back-handed way of doing so. After all, McDermott had three really good games against Wichita State this season, including 41 points in the game that decided the Valley regular-season champion in Omaha on March 1.
“Ever been to the Final Four?”
Playing dumb doesn’t look good, Shocker fans. You know Creighton has never been to a Final Four. And you know that now that the Bluejays have joined forces with seven former Big East schools plus Xavier and Butler, it’ll be tough to win even conference titles. Don’t rub the lack of a Final Four in a Creighton fan’s face. Let them proceed in peace.
Enjoy this moment, Shocker fans. Resist the temptation to lash out at the fans who have so joyously rubbed their past successes in your faces. Tit for tat isn’t all it’s made out to be. Stay classy. Wish KU, KSU and CU fans the best of luck in their future pursuits. Tell them to have a nice week. But don’t tell them you’ll be in Atlanta at the Final Four. That’ll only make them mad.