Signs of devotion: Shocker fans cheer on team to 19-0

Fans hold a sign in the final moments of Wichita State's game against Indiana State that says “Still unde-VLEETed,” referring to sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet. (January 18, 2014)
Fans hold a sign in the final moments of Wichita State's game against Indiana State that says “Still unde-VLEETed,” referring to sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet. (January 18, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Sassy Smith and her best friend were in such a hurry they got their numbers reversed.



Make that 19-0.

Smith and Chad Rico didn’t need to rush in the final seconds to proclaim that Wichita State University’s unbeaten record had moved a notch higher.

In a game that was no contest by the second half, the fifth-ranked Shockers overwhelmed Indiana State, 68-48, at Koch Arena.

With the Shockers leading by 19 points with just over a minute left, WSU senior Olivia Franz quickly flashed her sign – “Still undeVleeted” – for the packed house and a national TV audience to see.

That’s a take on star point guard Fred VanVleet’s name, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

“I wasn’t going to show it too early,” Franz said. “I didn’t want to jinx them.”

She did show the sign to WuShock before the game. WuShock was judging signs created by students, awarding the top 10 by giving them front-row seats and a T-shirt signed by WSU Coach Gregg Marshall.

And, yes, Franz was a winner.

Other 19-0 messages popped up, but most of those had all the numbers printed on one sign.

Smith and Rico took the risk of using three separate numbers, which Smith pulled out of a bag as the game wound down. Once they realized their mistake, they exchanged numbers and got it right.

Smith and Rico were among the 10,506 Shocker fans who came ready. They’ve been paying attention.

When they arrived for the previous home game, they saw messages on their seats that called for them to help stripe the arena with black and gold for the Indiana State game. The memos came complete with which sections were to wear black and which ones were to wear gold.

It worked. Almost.

A handful of fans wearing black sat in the gold section and vice versa. And then there was the stray purple-shirted guy sitting down front.

But few fans brought their game like Smith did. She and Rico brought an arsenal of four signs, plus the numbers.

“Most people don’t bring signs to games that aren’t on television,” she said, “but I do.”

Smith had a special sign for this game: “Marshall Law.” It’s a fairly common message since the Shockers have continued to stay in the national spotlight after their Final Four appearance last season.

“I had the first Marshall Law sign,” Smith said, “but then people started copying it.”

When Marshall came courtside to do his radio show after WSU’s last home victory, she was there holding up her Marshall Law sign.

“He looked at me and pointed at me,” she said. “I knew I had to come back with something bigger and better.”

So she poked a string of white lights through the cardboard sign, using a battery-powered system she had taped to the back of the sign.

When she flipped the switch, the lights started blinking. Hard to miss.

Except she’s pretty sure ESPN2’s cameras did. Or at least they never put her on TV.

“Do you think I should go down there and tell those ESPN2 guys to get this sign on TV?” she asked at halftime. “I’d feel stupid, but I’m trying to get on national TV.”

If the Shockers keep this up, she’ll no doubt have many more chances.

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