Wichita State Shockers

Tulsa time will return for WSU

Any Wichita State basketball fan who squeezed into Levitt Arena for a Tulsa game will agree with Frank DeSocio.

"The rivalry should have never went away," he said.

It's back, perhaps with a new twist for the resumption of the 119-game series. The schools announced a four-game deal, beginning Dec. 21, 2010 in Wichita, perhaps at the Intrust Bank Arena.

"It's a possibility," WSU senior associate athletic director Brian Pracht said. "There's still work to be done on that."

After the first game in Wichita, the sites alternate in the following seasons. Games in Tulsa will be played in its on-campus arena, the Reynolds Center.

That trip and that opponent will stir up memories for fans who watched the teams battle as Missouri Valley Conference rivals. The games grew in stature in the 1980s when WSU coach Gene Smithson and Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson put their teams in the national rankings.

DeSocio watched the rivalry up close when he served as the WuShock mascot for two seasons. He cheered in the Delta Upsilon section, dressed in scrubs as Dr. Shocker. He and his friends took a motor home to a game in Tulsa. When the Golden Hurricane came to Wichita, they tried — without success — to find TU's hotel so they could prank call.

"Nolan Richardson was always an animated coach and always fun to pick on," he said. "They leave the Valley and you miss that game."

The former MVC rivals last played during the 2004-05 season. Tulsa, now a member of Conference USA, leads the series 60-59 and has won 13 of the past 15 meetings. WSU defeated Tulsa 71-66 in the most recent meeting.

"This is an exciting move to secure a home-and-home series with Tulsa over the next four years," WSU athletic director Eric Sexton said in a news release. "This series has provided great drama and entertainment for both schools over the years, and renewing it was important to both programs."

With the Tulsa game set, a good portion of WSU's non-conference schedule in 2010-11 is finished.

Locked in are a home game against UMKC, a neutral-court game against LSU (likely in Shreveport, La.), three games in the Maui Invitational, a likely road game against a Mountain West Conference opponent and a home BracketBusters game.

WSU will not get a return game from this season's BracketBusters opponent (a road game) in 2010-11. Return games are delayed until 2011-12 to balance home and road games.

Pracht said WSU has discussed the 2010 date with officials at Intrust Bank Arena. The arena must host a basketball game as preparation for the 2011 NCAA women's tournament games scheduled there. WSU wants to play a non-conference game at Intrust Bank Arena each season.