Cohen: Student Section final assessment — not bad, but could be better


Matt Crow

WuShock crowd-surfs over the student section in the second half of the game against Evansville in Koch Arena. (Feb. 21, 2017)

Wichita State students have seen the men’s basketball’s success and their emergence into an elite college basketball program firsthand over the previous three seasons. As WSU was continuing to grow its success, the student section fell behind.

Face it, the student section this year was no where close to where it once was and they certainly have not made an impact on every game like they used to. That was obvious when athletics decided to sell the student tickets to the general public just to fill the empty seats.

The student section’s overall resume’ is and should not be based on one game. The whole body of work is coming into play as the evaluation is coming in as to whether or not the student section was considered quality.

What was good

When the students needed to bring a high-level of energy in the team’s most crucial home games, they delivered. It started with the team’s opening weekend of games, which resulted in two-blowout victories in front of a sold-out student section.

The excitement of the start of basketball season helped play into the students being loud and showcasing high-energy for those games.

During the team’s annual Intrust Bank Arena against Oklahoma State on Dec. 17, again WSU students traveled all the way downtown to fill that section. Students could have easily went home for the holiday break instead, as finals had concluded on that Friday.

Instead, they helped the Shocker faithful bring energy up until tipoff, where the entire sold-out crowd was stunned by a 17-point massacre.

WSU was desperate for a win against Illinois State on Feb. 4 in order to move to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. There, the students brought their best performance of the year.

With most of Section 116 and 117 being filled with students, the Shocker faithful intimidated the Redbirds with brightening yellow t-shirts, hysterical comments and being the active leaders for the rest of Charles Koch Arena in WSU’s 41-point win.

If the students had brought that energy for most of the games this season, the next part would not even exist.

What was bad

WSU students had broken a streak of 45 games being sold out on Nov. 29 against Southern Nazarene, where 70 tickets went unsold, mostly in the general admission section where the students take up the seats.

During the team’s next home game, 900 tickets were picked up but only 470 were used for the Dec. 6 game against Saint Louis, according to associate athletic director Russell Wilkins.

This forced athletics to sell 350 tickets in the general admission section for the remainder of the season, ruining the tone that the WSU student section had set in previous years.

Grant it, there are students out there who supported the team for the entire season and even took the time to travel for some road games. However, their fellow students were not as consistent.

Fans who did not attend the university stepped up to fill the void, but they did not bring the same amount of energy that the students can bring on a game-by-game basis. Three years ago, student tickets were impossible to get.

Now, athletics has to go out and convince the students to spend their time at the Roundhouse.

When at the games, there was very little creativity or loudness at less meaningful games. When an opponent was shooting a free throw, only half the student section would attempt to distract the shooter.

Until the last half of the regular season, there were very little signs or head cutouts and very mediocre chants.

At the Marshallville campout Sunday and Monday, only six tents were put on display. Obviously College Gameday wasn’t there to do the final regular season. But if students were able to camp out in negative wind chill and snow two years ago, why was it so difficult to get a camp out going in beautiful 70 degree weather?

And best of all, a fourth of the students couldn’t stay an extra 20 minutes to see the senior presentation. Obviously the student section is not where it was, which has the negatives unfortunately outshine the positives.

Final grade: C