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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lawrence women ride ups, downs of tourney

Victims of ticket fraud wind up in second row

Lawrence's Susan McLaughlin, left, and Nancy Flavin, right, cozy up to basketball Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler. After buying counterfeit tickets, McLaughlin and Flavin were given second-row tickets to the NCAA title game.

Lawrence's Susan McLaughlin, left, and Nancy Flavin, right, cozy up to basketball Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler. After buying counterfeit tickets, McLaughlin and Flavin were given second-row tickets to the NCAA title game.

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Lawrence's Susan McLaughlin, left, and Nancy Flavin, right, cozy up to basketball Hall-of-Famer Clyde Drexler. After buying counterfeit tickets, McLaughlin and Flavin were given second-row tickets to the NCAA title game.

Any witness to the brief eternity that was a Jason Richards three-point shot suspended in air as Bill Self fell to his knees understands what peaks and valleys March Madness engenders.

Those who watched Kansas build a 28-point lead against North Carolina and then watched it dwindle to four, only to see it inflate back up to 18 points, knows the exhaustion of riding the emotional roller coaster that is the NCAA Tournament.

Dejection: Down nine points with two minutes left against Memphis. Euphoria: Winning by seven points after Mario Chalmers sent it into overtime by hitting a tightly guarded three-pointer.

Perhaps nobody better knows the gamut of tourney feelings than Nancy Flavin and Susan McLaughlin, two Lawrence women who made the trip to San Antonio for the Final Four.

"We don't go on trips," McLaughlin corrected. "We go on adventures."

Difficult point to argue.

Flavin and McLaughlin have attended the Final Four four times (1993, 2002, 2003, 2008). The low point of the San Antonio trip, er, adventure, came when the handed their tickets for the North Carolina game to the scanners.

"I was in one line, Susan in another," said Flavin, a 1976 KU graduate. "They scanned my ticket. It was rejected. A few feet away, Susan was going through the same thing."

They were out $500 apiece. The man from whom they had purchased the tickets - he identified himself as "Shawn" and was dressed head-to-toe in Dallas Cowboys garb, posing as a local - was a fraud.

McLaughlin, a 1978 KU grad, said the cell phone number "Shawn" gave them still works and that she has left several messages on it.

A phone message left by the Journal-World to the New York number for "Shawn" to get his version of events was not returned. One call was answered, but the man hung up when he was called "Shawn." The answering machine has a recorded voice that says, "Leave a message for the dog pound, and Snoop Dogg will pass it on for you immediately."

No matter. The tale now told by Flavin and McLaughlin is neither one of bitterness nor a quest for vengeance, rather one of gratitude and amazement at the kindness of fellow basketball fans with different rooting interests.

As word of their plight spread, acts of kindness began flowing their way. Free meals. A $50 gift from a Memphis fan who insisted they buy Final Four souvenirs with it. A $200 gift from a KU fan, whose wife urged him to give them more than that.

Margaret, the North Carolina fan, insisted they take two tickets for the national title game and wouldn't take them back when another man gave them two tickets in the second row behind the basket Memphis shot at it in the second half. She said to "pass it forward." The women found a KU family of four that had two tickets and was seeking two more, and gave them the tickets.

Flavin and McLaughlin sat next to Olympic gold medalist, NBA champion, and Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler during the Memphis game.

Flavin, in the same Bible study group in Lawrence as Almarie Chalmers, Mario's mother, said she ran into her inside the Alamodome in the aftermath of the remarkable comeback victory.

"Talk about an elated person with stars in her eyes," Flavin said.

The description just as easily could have fit Flavin and McLaughlin, as much for what transpired outside the Alamodome as inside it.

"There are amazing people out there," McLaughlin said. "This has really changed my opinion of the human race, just the kindness of people."

Comments

Ryan Gerstner 11 years, 7 months ago

That's great that an initially sad story had a happy ending!

rockchalk_dpu 11 years, 7 months ago

I think what is even better about this is that a Carolina fan, not to mention Memphis fans were willing to help out another fan, regardless of team affiliation. This is something that we need to remember in our actions with all fans: we represent not only ourselves in our behavior, but KU fans everywhere whether it is in the arena or on the street wearing our Kansas gear. Good message for all to remember, "pass it forward" as the article says and Rock Chalk!

ru4ku2 11 years, 7 months ago

It's good to be an older woman. If this happened to a 20 year old frat-boy, it would be simply dismissed. But everyone feels sorry for the women. boohoo

areyouserious 11 years, 7 months ago

maybe we could flood "Shawns" voicemail with lots of encouraging messages. Can we get that phone number posted???

d_prowess 11 years, 7 months ago

As I have traveled more outside of Lawrence to KU sporting events, I find things like this to be very common. This year alone, I went to the Orange Bowl and the NCAA games in Detroit, and in both situations I felt all of the fans there were very nice and fun to be around. Obviously we all rooted for our team to win, but that did not stand in the way of all of us enjoying each other's company. Even the crowd at the MU/KU game at Arrowhead seemed to get along, which suprised me. I don't think things like this are very suprising anymore and feel most of the hate you hear about between fans happens only on message boards and talk shows.

truefan 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree on some of those terms D_Prowess, but my buddy's side mirror still got busted off during the game by a mizzou fan, and after the game some guy from mizzou tried to fight us while we were calmly walking to the car. I can tell you right now that we didn't say a word to the guy he just got right in our face and asked if we wanted to fight. The hate is still there, just not as obvious as throwing batteries at our band.

11 years, 7 months ago

truefan - have you seen the seating diagram for next season's Border War? It looks like they are trying to separate all KU and MU sections with several sections of Chiefs fans. That should help a little, and they are also trying to assign school-related parking. I think after this season's game, they know they have a potential powder keg on their hands and, although probably not perfect, are taking some preventative measures.

Gary Bedore 11 years, 7 months ago

I agree on some of those terms D_Prowess, but my buddy's side mirror still got busted off during the game by a mizzou fan, and after the game some guy from mizzou tried to fight us while we were calmly walking to the car. I can tell you right now that we didn't say a word to the guy he just got right in our face and asked if we wanted to fight. The hate is still there, just not as obvious as throwing batteries at our band.-- Don't you hate when fans damage cars? Remember that year the KU fans flattened tires of many NU fans who made the drive from Lincoln for a football game? That showed SO poorly on Lawrence and KU. Then when KU returned the trip in basketball there was no retaliation from NU fans, which showed class of our neighbors up North.I hate when I hear of KU cars damaged at KSU or Missouri. It's just a game, folks! Right?

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