Shocker fans remain grateful for season’s success

Sports Editor

Fans boarding a plane or traveling by bus to St. Louis, Mo. for the second and third round of the NCAA tournament had one expectation in mind: for the Shocker men’s basketball team to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the second round of the tournament, the Shockers debut against Cal Poly, the fans left the arena with upbeat spirits as the team knocked out the Mustangs, 64-37 to advance to the third round.

“I was very confident,” Shocker fan Rick Atteberry said. “I thought they played well and were in synch. I thought they played the best of everyone that played that day.”

Ending the Kansas State Wildcats road to glory in the second round, the University of Kentucky Wildcats were the next to face the Shockers in the third round — a game that fans knew would be a tough match-up from the tip but one that they found confidence in winning.

“Going into it, I was real confident,” Shocker fan Rick Hendricks said. “I just knew that we were going to come out with a victory if we played the type of ball we had been playing all season.”

In a tight battle from beginning to end, the Shockers held close to the Wildcats trading bucket-for-bucket until the final buzzer. It was a game some fans were unable to call.

“It was nerve-shocking because I didn’t want to fall too far behind because the momentum shifted when Kentucky took the lead,” Hendricks said. “As long as we had a three or four point lead, I felt the pressure was on Kentucky but once they got the lead and the momentum shifted, I figured the pressure was on WSU.”

Walking away without the championship title, fans believe the team has plenty to be grateful for this season. Becoming the first team to start a season at 35-0, the Shockers defeated many odds that were held against them from the beginning of the season.

Despite losing a perfect record and a potential championship, fans remain proud of their Shockers and the accomplishments that were made this season.

“(I am grateful for) the Shockers going as far as they did and how they handled themselves,” Atteberry said.

Taking the win over the Shockers, the Wildcats will advance to the Sweet Sixteen along with the Stanford Cardinals after pulling a 60-57 upset over Kansas Jayhawks. Both teams will play next weekend in Indianapolis to continue their pursuit of the national title.