* Wichita State basketball fans have proven themselves over the decades. They have always shown up in good – and mostly very good – numbers to support the Shockers. It was interesting that WSU basketball coach Gregg Marshall sounded luke warm about the home cooking after Thursday night’s win at Koch Arena over Charleston Southern, saying the energy in the building was lacking.
* First of all – and I’m becoming a real stickler on this point – look at the non-conference home games these fans have been given. The list includes: North Carolina-Central, Western Carolina, Howard, Tulsa, Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern. Who on that list excites you? Sure, Tulsa is a quality opponent, but the Golden Hurricane is rebuilding under first-year coach Danny Manning. The rest of that non-conference schedule is excitement free.
* Wichita State isn’t alone in playing a less-than-exhilarating home non-conference schedule. It’s done now all around the country. A high percentage of the best games are played on neutral floors or in tournaments because nobody wants to go on the road and risk a loss. It’s becoming more and more of an issue, I believe.
* College basketball fans are consumers and, as such, should demand more from their respective teams. There is no obligation on the part of the fans to enthusiastically support games that don’t entice them. Just because Wichita State or any other school plays a home basketball game doesn’t mean fans have to be juiced. Or even fake being juiced. You want energy in a building, play someone that entices the fan base. Seems simple to me.
* Tickets reportedly are going slow for the Shockers’ Saturday night game against Southern Mississippi at Intrust Bank Arena. And I use the word “slow” in a relative sense. I’m expecting at least 10,000 to show up three days before Christmas against another team that hardly carries a big name. Southern Miss is a good team from Conference USA, but this is the third consecutive Conference USA opponent that the Shockers will have played downtown at IBA. Tulsa was the first two seasons ago and UAB came to the downtown arena last season.
* I hope Wichita State demands more from the promoter who has set up the three games at the Intrust Bank Arena.
* We talked on radio this morning about potential opponents for the IBA game and came up with an interesting list of possibilities. Missouri was one of the schools mentioned. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the next game the Tigers played on Kansas soil was in Wichita at the downtown arena? I voted for former Missouri Valley Conference member Cincinnati, which was a forced in the league during the 1950s and early 1960s and formed an incredible rivalry at the time with Wichita State. Both teams were among the best in the country at the time and it would be fun to re-visit that rivalry all these years later.
* A disclaimer. I’m not the one who has to schedule basketball games for Wichita State or any other school. I’ve been told how difficult it can be, and I believe that to be the case and respect the hard work that goes into finding games, especially home games. That said, I just have to believe WSU can do better.
* Charlie Weis is putting a lot of eggs in the junior college recruiting basketball at Kansas. Interesting strategy, but one that makes some sense given the overall lack of talent on the Jayhawks’ roster. This influx of juco players needs to work for Weis to take that next step and turn more heavily toward high school recruits. Kansas is getting some highly-touted junior college players, that’s for sure. And so many. It will be fascinating to see how Weis and his assistants mix in the players from this junior college-heavy recruiting class.
* I was hoping the St. Louis Cardinals could figure out some way to bring Mike Pelfrey aboard as a starting pitcher for 2013. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the former Wichita Heights and WSU standout signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Minnesota Twins, with another $1.5 million available in incentives. Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in May, has been throwing well, he says, while recuperating. The Twins are shutting him down until after the new year, though. He’s facing a big 2013 season, one in which he can increase his value dramatically by pitching well.
* The Cardinals have added right-handed hitting Ty Wigginton for their bench and left-hander Randy Choate for their bullpen. Hooray. Actually, both moves were needed and I’m kind of excited about Choate. Wait, did I just type that? “Excited about Choate?” Obviously, I need a baseball fix soon.
* We (Debbie and me) saw “Life of Pi” a couple of nights ago as we continue to try and see as many of the best movies of the year. The movie was a sight to behold as Ang Lee obviously went all out to make the screen sizzle. But the story was lacking for me. It seems like Lee was going hard for spirituality in the film, but he fell short in that department because of all the special tricks with the camera. I’m not sure how I was supposed to feel after watching the movie, but what I thought about most was how amazing the cinematography was. I expected the story to carry the film, but it didn’t. At least not for me.
* “Lincoln” is the best movie we’ve seen so far, but I also can’t stop thinking about “Flight,” which stars Denzel Washington as a troubled and gifted airline pilot.
* I’ll say it again: Jack Black deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance in “Bernie.”
* I thought the finales of both “Dexter” and “Homeland” on Showtime were outstanding. I was surprised to read that “Dexter” had 400,000 more viewers than “Homeland” for their final episodes of the season.
* My son, Jeff, turns 30 today. I have a 30-year-old son. Pardon me, I need a moment.
* I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution guy, but I really need to cut back on my Facebook-ing. But can I do it? I have little faith in myself. Stay tuned, we’ll see how it goes.
* Oh my gosh, just after I typed that last note I got on my phone and checked Facebook. I need help.
* I went to a party Thursday with a bunch of my old Derby friends. I’m talking about guys I’ve known for 50 years and longer. It’s pretty amazing to keep those kind of connections over this much time and that’s one of the things I’m most thankful for and one of the best reasons to stay near your hometown, as far as I’m concerned.
* I am also thankful for everyone who has read my columns, listened to our radio show and kept up with my blogging here at Kansas.com. And I wish you all a Merry Christmas as we trudge forward in this sometimes-difficult-to-understand-world of ours. Keep doing your individual best to make it a better place.