Women’s basketball on a quest for more fan support

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Morgan Anderson

Wichita State's Ashley Reid looks for a pass above the three-point line during the game against the Memphis Tigers on Wednesday.

The Wichita State men’s basketball team is known for having a large, passionate fan base. The Shocker women’s basketball team is on a quest to grow its own fan base.

Head Coach Keitha Adams said she sees potential in that Wichita is a city that’s already passionate about the game of basketball.

“People here love the Shockers, and we are a basketball school, and we’re a basketball community,” Adams said. The women’s basketball team just completed its third with Adams at  the helm. This season, the Shockers finished 16-15, a high mark under Adams. However, she said she isn’t fully satisfied with where her team stands.

“I have some big goals for our program,” Adams said. “We’re scratching the surface.”

According to the numbers WSU’s athletic department submitted to the NCAA, the Shockers averaged 2,178 fans per game during the 2018-2019 season — just above the American Conference average of 2,161 fans per game.

However, this season’s ticket scans are much lower than last year’s reported NCAA number, with WSU averaging 581 ticket scans per game inside of 10,506-seat Charles Koch Arena. The lowest number of scans this season was for the Nov. 4 exhibition game against Missouri Southern State, when just 261 tickets were scanned.

Adams said her ultimate goal is to sell out Koch Arena. She said a key to growing the fan base is for the Shockers to build on the growing success they have had.

“Obviously, you’ve got to build the product and you’ve got to build the program, and as your success gets there, it builds up steam,” Adams said.

Senior Ashley Reid credits Adams with growing the fan base during her time as a Shocker.

“I think it’s been growing ever since I’ve been here,” Reid said. “It’s been growing every game, and I know this year, there’s been a lot of people at our games, and Coach Adams does a good job of getting a lot of people here.”

One thing that is noticeable at women’s basketball games is the lack of students who attend. Reid acknowledges that the numbers of students attending games could improve, but says that the student turnout has also improved under Adams.

“I feel like there’s more students this year than there was last year,” Reid said. “It just grows every year.”

Junior Mariah McCully, the team’s leading scorer, has made it a point to support the other teams on campus and has seen the favor returned. McCully said she believes the support of other WSU athletes is key to growing support for women’s basketball.

“I know that was one of the school’s goals was to bring the sports together,” McCully said. “In the beginning, I went to watch volleyball. I see some volleyball players here.”

When it comes to fan support, McCully said a lack of enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily affect her, but she does feed off of larger fan support.

“I’m versatile with it,” McCully said. “If we don’t have any fans, it won’t bother me, but if we have fans, I’ll be more hyped than I would be if we didn’t have fans.”

Adams said fan support is something she and the team take seriously.

“It’s something that’s important to us,” Adams said. “I’d like for our community just to know that I really want for them to feel like they can be a part of our program, and we need them. So, I think we have passionate fans, but we can definitely do better and we need more people here.

“We just got to continue to work on getting better and building this thing.”