On back-to-back Saturdays, Wichita State’s basketball team has played games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Nobody mentioned how there was nothing to be gained for the Sooners and Cowboys, or about how it could adversely affect their ability to recruit.
In fact, after the Shockers defeated OU last week in Oklahoma City, Sooners coach Lon Kruger sounded interested in expanding the series beyond next year, when the teams will meet at Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena.
Meanwhile, in Lawrence and Manhattan … crickets.
Kansas State has rewarded its basketball fans with one of the worst non-conference home schedules you could draw up. Playing Wichita State, it seems, is not something K-State coach Bruce Weber spends any time thinking about. But playing Robert Morris, Hampton and Prairie View is.
Kansas still hasn’t rewarded its south-central Kansas fan base with a game at Intrust, let alone a game against Wichita State anywhere in the world that doesn’t have “NCAA Tournament” attached.
One of the great frustrations of my life is that no one can seem to convince the powers that be at Kansas State and Kansas that playing a basketball game or two against Wichita State won’t be the end of the world.
It could actually enhance the world, or at least the state of Kansas. Basketball is king in our lovely state, except we can’t get out-of-staters like Weber and KU coach Bill Self to bow.
They continue to offer reasons why not rather than reasons why. They continue to treat Wichita State as the ugly stepsister when, in fact, the Shockers have surpassed K-State as a basketball entity and have two wins over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, albeit 35 years apart.
WSU’s win in 2015 was the first WSU-KU meeting since 1993.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has said over and over that he’s open to playing anyone, anywhere.
He would prefer home-and-home series, of course, and that would be the only way to go with Kansas State.
With KU, I’ve long proposed this: A game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, a game at Intrust Bank Arena and a game at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Shockers would go for that. But good luck trying to sell something like that to KU.
The Jayhawks go into the “too much to lose” nonsense or simply ignore the conversation.
And that’s KU’s prerogative, of course. I don’t sense many, if any, Jayhawks fans with a burr in their saddle over this. In Lawrence, at least where college basketball is concerned, everything is beautiful and nobody has a care in the world.
The folks at WSU aren’t clamoring, either. But that’s because they have given up and recognize there’s no use maintaining negative emotion about a matter they can’t change.
Basketball should be showcased in our state and that’s a difficult thing to do when two schools that belong to the same conference seem to look down on the school in the Missouri Valley.
That “looking down,” though, feels a little bit like fear. Fear of losing, fear of having to answer to alums, fear of not being quite what you say and think you are.
The Shockers, of course, are at a high tide in their basketball program’s history under Marshall. That should be incentive for KU and K-State to schedule Wichita State.
Nothing has been for years.
Wichita State can get games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. And while the Shockers are at it, they should try to entice Iowa State, Texas, Baylor and the rest of the Big 12 for an occasional game.
Kansas and Kansas State can remain on the sideline, protecting whatever authority they’re trying to protect.
They might not need Wichita State. The Shockers don’t need them, either.
But this isn’t about need, it’s about doing what’s right. We’ve got something special in Kansas when it comes to the three Division I basketball programs, but two want to be separatists.
Come together. Right now.