Henrickson hopes for pro-KU crowd

K-State fans likely to show for Thursday night's game in Allen

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

As sure as the colors crimson and blue combine to form purple, at least one "Bramlage East" sign will be displayed Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Even before Kansas State women's basketball teams became a national power at the turn of the century, their fans showed up in Lawrence en masse.

Six of the top nine crowds in KU women's basketball history, in fact, have come when the Wildcats were in town.

"You can't control that," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We have great respect for the support their program has had. They're going to bring their people and we respect that."

The only way to counteract the K-State invasion is for KU fans to show up in even greater numbers. And that, of course, is what Henrickson is hoping for when the 'Cats make their annual visit Thursday night.

"I thought our crowd did a good job last year," she said. "There was a lot of blue."

Last year's attendance was listed as 5,551 - the ninth largest on the KU home crowd chart - and at least half of those ticket-buyers were wearing KSU purple.

"It will be important for us to get crowd support," Henrickson said.

Kansas knocked off Missouri, 81-71, in an overtime thriller Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. The announced crowd was 5,467, and at least a couple of thousand were area Girl Scouts. But Missouri had a noisy following, too.

"Missouri had three buses here," Henrickson said, "but our crowd did a great job."

Thursday will be the first time Kansas has met its in-state rival in the regular-season home finale since 1993. KU will honor three seniors prior to the game - Crystal Kemp, Erica Hallman and Kaylee Brown.

Kemp and Brown have been with the program four years. Brown came to KU three years ago after spending her first season at an Oklahoma junior college. None has played in a win over the 'Cats.

Kansas State has captured nine straight in the series and most have been lopsided, including a 65-40 victory in Allen Fieldhouse last year. However, the Wildcats had to rally late to spill KU, 69-63, on Jan. 25 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.

Henrickson stresses she doesn't want her players to overreact if there seem to be more KSU fans than KU fans in the fieldhouse.

"I think you can get too caught up in that," Henrickson said. "If you're angry, anger is not a positive emotion to be successful. We'll address it and not get too caught up in it, just like we addressed the whole rivalry with Missouri."

Tipoff will be at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. The game will be televised live on CSTV (Sunflower Broadband channel 143).