1028 total votes.
The bandwagon that is Kansas University women’s basketball welcomed 8,360 people on board Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse, the fifth-largest audience in the program’s history.
By Saturday afternoon, when the crowd count is announced for the WNIT championship game between the Jayhawks and South Florida of the Big East, that count should be pushed to the sixth-largest.
Surely, though, there will be plenty of empty seats. No way 16,300 are going to show up so that, should Kansas win the game that tips off at 1 p.m., they can point to the banner years later and say, “I was there.”
“Why not?” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said of selling out the place. “Everybody bring a friend. Everybody’s got a friend. I’ve even got one friend. I’ll bring one.”
On Wednesday night, when Kansas built a big lead and hung on for a 75-72 victory against Illinois State, Bonnie had 8,360 friends.
What’s happening here is quite remarkable. It’s as if we all woke up tomorrow, and Neru jackets, medallions and bell-bottom pants were back in style. Even mullets, and not just in the state of Missouri, where they still haven’t gone out of style.
A month ago, Allen Fieldhouse was the place not to be when the women had a game. Now it’s highly fashionable.
“I’ve been through this before where I was (Virginia Tech), and it’s the talk of the town, it’s the talk of the beauty shop when you’re getting your hair done, it’s the talk in the grocery store,” Henrickson said.
Fingers will be dialing 864-3141 for tickets priced at $10 for adults and $8 for youth. Students with valid KU identifications will get in free. Given how much students seemed to enjoy themselves Wednesday, it’s not a reach to believe they all will return and bring a friend.
Kansas sophomore center Krysten Boogaard, who played big on a night her team really needed that from her, contributed 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Those weren’t the numbers she envisioned when asked about her coach’s “bring a friend” idea for Saturday’s title game.
“We’d pack the house,” Boogaard said. “That would be tremendous. That would be incredible.”
The crowd definitely energized the players, maybe even a little too much so at one point.
Aishah Sutherland, the 6-foot-2 freshman who dunked the ball during halftime warmups Monday night in Albuquerque, had intentions of doing it on a second-half breakaway layup, but the ball was batted away from her.
“I was thinking about dunking it, yes,” Sutherland said. “Then that girl came out of nowhere and fouled me.”
We’ll never know if she would have executed successfully what would have been the first dunk in Kansas women’s basketball history.
“I feel how I paced myself and how I lined myself up, I feel like I would have gotten up there,” Sutherland said. “When I was slowing down, the girl caught up to me.”
Just as well. Maybe a bigger crowd will be on hand for her next breakaway.
“I don’t want to see any bleachers Saturday,” Sutherland said. “I want it full.”