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Here's what it would take

The NCAA women’s basketball tournament is coming to Intrust Bank Arena.  So if you’re one of the fans who wonders “What would it take for Wichita State women’s basketball to be a real player for love in this town?” – you got your answer.

Play a tournament game downtown in 2011.

Sure, it’s outlandish to talk about WSU in that way. The Shockers have never played in the NCAA. They’ve never been a serious at-large contender and never won a Missouri Valley Conference regular-season or tournament title. WSU is picked ninth this season and hasn’t had a winning season since 2006.

Forget all that, because this news gives WSU the license to dream big.

In 2011, if WSU earns a spot (either at-large or automatic) it will play in downtown arena. That’s a guarantee, according to Jane Meyer, chair of the NCAA Division I women’s basketball committee.“If you are a host and you’re in, they’re playing at home,” she said. The NCAA just gave WSU women’s basketball a game-changing opportunity. Coach Jody Adams, starting her second season, knows it.  WSU plays in the MVC. Anything is possible. Southern Illinois, with Adams as an assistant coach, went from 1-17 in the MVC in 2005 to 16-2 in 2007.  Creighton, last place in 2006, finished second in 2009 and is the preseason favorite this season. Eighth-seeded Illinois State won the tournament in 2005. Eighth-seeded Drake won it in 2007. Ninth-seeded Evansville won it last season.

Why can’t Wichita State do something similar in 2011?

WSU knows this is a rare jewel of an opportunity. Pull this off and WSU women’s basketball elevates itself to real relevancy on the local sports scene. Thursday’s announcement presents the program with the possibility of its first profile-raising, defining moment that doesn’t involve Jackie Stiles.