Paul Suellentrop

Empty seats in student section inspire Marshall to write

Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall understands if a student is busy with holiday plans or exams and can’t make a game. He is not so understanding if that student picked up tickets and let them sit unused.

Empty seats in the top rows of the student section in Koch Arena caught Marshall’s eye for games against Tulsa (Nov. 29) and Seton Hall (Tuesday). Students who attended the Saint Louis game on Dec. 6 at Intrust Bank Arena found a letter from Marshall urging them to use the tickets, or give them away, and fill the student section.

“For whatever reason, there’s just a big void of students in that top part of the student section,” Marshall said. “Which is kind of shocking to me. They’ll come. I’m not worried about it. We’re working with them.”

Students are allotted 1,100 free tickets and they can pick up three or four games at one time, which might be the problem. WSU, according to associate athletic director John Brewer, actually distributes around 300-400 extra student tickets for each game, knowing that some will go unused. Even with the over-distribution, a few rows of empty seats above the pep band are noticeable. Brewer said WSU estimated 500 empty seats for the Tulsa game. If tickets aren’t claimed by students, WSU sells them for general admission seating.

“For some reason, they’re picking up tickets with no intention of using them, and I think the reason is we’re giving out tickets three or four games in advance,” Marshall said. “If you’re going to take the ticket, use the ticket. Because then there are other people in line who can’t get a ticket.”

The letter, signed “Cheer Angry” by Marshall, was also distributed on social media.

“We need you for these home games,” it reads. “So when you pick up a ticket, either come to the game or give your ticket to somebody who will attend. Remember, attendance at Shocker games is both a right and a responsibility. You have the responsibility of showing up early, filling those seats beyond capacity, and creating one of the most menacing environments in college basketball.”

WSU is considering changes. It may limit ticket distribution to one game at a time by the time Missouri Valley Conference schedule starts, or institute an accountability system that tracks unused tickets, Brewer said.

“When you give a batch of issues that includes a holiday game or a game during finals, it may be a scheduling issue,” Brewer said. “Even on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there are 1,100 students that want to be there or could be there. They just weren’t.”

Shouldering the load — Loyola’s basketball season seemed to take a fatal hit in October when MVC Newcomer of the Year Milton Doyle tore the labrum in his shooting shoulder.

Doyle wanted to delay surgery and see if he could rehab and play this season with the injury. It seemed iffy, but so far Doyle is playing well and the Ramblers were 5-2 (with two wins over non-NCAA Division I teams) entering Saturday night’s game against Jackson State. Doyle, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, entered Saturday averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He made 55.6 percent of his shots and 63.6 percent of his three-pointers (14 of 22).

“We sat him for six weeks and rehabbed it and he’s doing fine,” Loyola coach Porter Moser said. “He hasn’t complained at all.”

Doyle is playing point guard while junior Jeff White recovered from knee surgery. White has played in five games and has yet to start.

Get a TO and buy the book — ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale will sign copies of his book at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the WSU Bookstore in the Rhatigan Student Center.

Vitale will broadcast WSU’s basketball game against Alabama at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The book is titled “It's Awesome, Baby! — 75 Years of Memories and a Lifetime of Opinions on the Game I Love.”

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.