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Archive for Monday, March 16, 1998

TEARS, BEERS MIX IN LAWRENCE BARS

March 16, 1998

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Local fans watched in silence as the Kansas University men's basketball team was shocked by the University of Rhode Island in the second round of the NCAA tournament Sunday.

At exactly 6 p.m. Sunday, a packed house at Henry T's Bar and Grill fell silent as seconds trickled away on a scoreboard clock 300 miles away.

``This is a huge bummer,'' said manager Sara Kapfer. ``Gargantuan,'' added waitress Gina Oltremare.

``I'm going to cry,'' said another waitress.

``That's it. I'm not getting on the bandwagon again,'' said a bartender.

Thousands of Kansas University men's basketball fans watched in shock as the Midwest region No. 1-seeded Jayhawks -- an 11-point favorite heading into Sunday's game -- fell to the University of Rhode Island, 80-75, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Hundreds of fans watched the television broadcast from Oklahoma City in local bars.

``We're still proud of them -- we just wanted to see them go farther,'' said Sheryl Kidwell, a KU student housing employee watching from Henry T's, 3520 W. Sixth.

Across town, the team received a hand from about 70 organizers and supporters of the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade, when organizer Gene Shaughnessy said, ``How about the `Hawks?''

``We support them no matter what happens, and we'll be back next year,'' said Shaughnessy, speaking at the Flamingo Club, 501 N. Ninth.

Local bar patrons quietly headed for exits after the stunning upset.

Before the end of the game, the crowds cheered for every KU rebound and basket and moaned and cursed for each by URI.

``It's been like this pretty much the whole game,'' Kapfer said.

``They (URI) just got hot,'' said Dan Kelly of Lawrence. ``They just played a great game.''

His wife, Joanne, said she would continue to support KU and head coach Roy Williams.

``I think Roy's done a great job. He will do something, it just wasn't this year,'' she said.

Henry Neary, who wore a light blue sweater -- URI's color -- was the only Rhode Island fan at Henry T's.

He said he knew URI had a chance to beat the Jayhawks.

``I knew that if they could force KU in a half-court game, they would have a chance.

``They just shot the eyes out of the ball.''

``The tournament's just a lot of luck,'' said KU fan Gene Kidwell.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message is 832-7187. His e-mail address is dekker@ljworld.com.

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