Kansas University basketball fans may need to drive to Minneapolis in droves if the Jayhawk faithful are to rival North Dakota State’s legion of fans in Friday’s 11:30 a.m. NCAA opener at the Metrodome.
It’s a 31⁄2-hour drive from Fargo, N.D., home of N.D. State, to the Metrodome. It’s about a seven-hour drive from Lawrence.
“Honestly, right now I don’t think it’s real fair that Kansas has to travel to Minneapolis to play North Dakota State,” Bison coach Saul Phillips told the Journal-World on Sunday. He has eight Minnesota natives on his roster.
“They’ve earned a right to probably play at a more neutral court. But at the same time, hey, I’m not making any calls in protest. We’ll take any little advantage we can get, because if you go by what works in our favor throughout this whole matchup, that might be the little sliver that we can latch onto.”
KU coach Bill Self did not agree with a reporter’s assertion that the NCAA had KU play in Minnesota in the hopes Jayhawk fans would purchase tickets and help sell out the Metrodome.
The Sprint Center in nearby Kansas City, which also hosts first- and second-round games, long has been sold out.
“I think when we were a 3 seed and Oklahoma a 2, they (Sooners) were going to Kansas City, not us,” Self said. “If we were a 2 and OU a 3, we’d go to Kansas City. I don’t think that (ticket sales) has anything to do with it at all.”
Nobody went crazy
The defending national champion Jayhawks, who had gathered in the Naismith Room of Allen Fieldhouse for the Selection Sunday show, applauded when CBS revealed KU’s NCAA fate.
“There wasn’t as much energy in our room to watch the selection show because we already kind of knew how we scored in the situation,” Self said. “But we will be excited to play.”
Self is OK with the fact the Jayhawks must wait until Friday to play. KU lost to Baylor on Thursday at the Big 12 tournament.
“You would think that since we played last Thursday we would want to play as soon as possible. I’m not disappointed that we play on Friday at all because I need to really become familiar with North Dakota State and also the potential teams that North Dakota State or us could play. And I'm sure they feel the same way,” Self said.
Self already had tapes of the Bison to review Sunday night. It’s because KU director of basketball operations Brett Ballard tapes games of virtually all Div. I teams that could make the tournament beginning in February.
“We will have plenty of tape,” Self said. “I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't have at least three or four games on them already.”
Cole knows Carlson
N.D. State has eight Minnesota natives on its roster. Cole Aldrich played AAU basketball with Eric Carlson, a 6-6 red-shirt freshman from Shakopee, Minn.
“He’s a great kid. He’ll be another tough challenge for us when he gets in the game,” Aldrich said.
Sherron Collins wanted to play tourney games in Kansas City.
“I was real hopeful,” he said. “I knew there was a good chance it would not happen. We won our conference but lost in the tournament. We’ve got fans who follow us wherever we go.”