Archive for Sunday, March 21, 2004

What do you know about KU’s NCAA foe?

March 21, 2004


— The University of the Pacific may be in the midst of a 16-game winning streak, own one of four "upsets" in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and stand on the brink of the school's first trip to the Sweet 16.

But just how much do Kansas University fans know about their team's foe in today's 3:50 p.m. game at Kemper Arena?

"Me? Absolutely nothing," said Jason Adams, a KU fan from Thayer, cheering from the stands Friday night. "I didn't study my bracket very close. They definitely weren't my pick."

Such innocent ignorance is proving pervasive this weekend in Kansas City, even among KU faithful who watched Pacific topple No. 5 seed Providence before the Jayhawks took the floor against Illinois-Chicago.

But the question remains: Are the No. 4-seeded Jayhawks and their fans now overconfident, knowing that Pacific got into the tournament as a No. 12 seed?

That won't be known until this evening, of course. But until then, KU fans and players can learn something from this little quiz posed to ticket-holding fans -- and even a few players -- after Friday's games:

Question No. 1

What is Pacific's mascot?

KU fan answer: "An eagle," said Dale Wahlers, who took business classes at KU and now works in finance in Wichita. "Isn't it? I remember it from watching the game. It's an eagle."

The Kansas University Alumni Association will conduct a pep rally today for fans prepping for KU's second-round NCAA Tournament game against Pacific.The pep rally is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Golden Ox, 1600 Genessee St., in Kansas City, Mo. The lot is just north of Kemper Arena, where KU's game is expected to start about 3:50 p.m. (or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Oklahoma State-Memphis game, which starts at 1:20 p.m.).¢Team officials had not yet decided Saturday night when the Jayhawks would return to Lawrence after KU's game against Pacific.

Correct answer: Wahlers apparently trained his eyes on the wrong team. While Eastern Washington -- a loser earlier Friday to Oklahoma State -- traveled with an mascot in an eagle suit and Hawaiian shirt, Pacific proudly plays behind an orange-and-black Tiger, reflecting the school's colors.

Question No. 2

Where is Pacific, anyway?

KU fan answer: "They have a dental school in San Francisco," said Jerry Nossaman, a retired dentist from Lawrence. "I've actually been there. I've taken a continuing-education class there -- two, in fact."

Correct answer: Nossaman is 33 percent right.

Pacific, a private university, does have a dental school in San Francisco, along with a law school in Sacramento. But the main campus is in Stockton, Calif.

For the record, Nossaman must not have many Pacific pennants around his office. He guessed that the school's mascot either was a mussel or a clam.

Question No. 3

What conference does Pacific play in?

KU fan answer: "I'm going to guess," said Cathy Guyer, a 2002 KU graduate now working in Moundridge as a marketer for a lawn-care equipment company. "Is it the Pacific Conference?"

Correct answer: No. The Tigers play in the Big West Conference, whose 10 member schools include eight from California. Among conference members is Utah State, a team that challenged KU last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, when KU won 64-61 on the way to the Final Four.

This season, Pacific is riding a 16-game winning steak, which included the Big West Conference Tournament Championship.

Guyer scored well on other Pacific questions, but she had an in. She was recruited to swim for Pacific back in 1998, but opted to go to KU instead.

"I didn't really like it there," Guyer said. "There's a lot of people in that town. It was all dirty, a lot of crime and stuff. I was thinking it was going to be like Pepperdine -- you know, Malibu, right on the ocean, fun -- but less expensive. That wasn't it."

Question No. 4

Name a famous Pacific graduate, or a player in the NBA.

KU fan answer: "Um, did Steve Nash go there?" asked Brett Olson, a senior forward for KU. "No, he went to Santa Barbara."

Correct answer: Michael Olowokandi left Pacific in 1998 and became the first player picked in the 1998 NBA draft. He plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kansas University's on spring break. If you weren't playing in the NCAA Tournament, where would you want to go for spring break?Asked of KU forward Wayne Simien, an avid angler who considers the Ozarks his favorite vacation destination."Table Rock Lake, bass fishing. Just fishing, man. The great outdoors. Get away from school a little bit, away from hoop. Be out in the wilderness. Go camping. No TVs. No cell phones. Having a relaxing time."

Also notable: Alex Spanos is a Pacific graduate. Spanos, a member of the school's board of regents, owns the San Diego Chargers and owns companies that build and develop rental communities. His name is on the school's 6,150-seat basketball arena.

Final exams

Olson, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, actually did well on the Pacific test: He easily identified the Tigers, the northern California location and membership in the Big West Conference -- "not the Big Sky," as he emphasized in the KU locker room.

"Hey, I didn't study colleges," said Olson, who's working on a master's in exercise science and plans to enter medical school. "I didn't get my degree in other colleges."

The Jayhawks figured to go to school on Pacific's basketball team Saturday, knowing that the success of their studies could make a difference during today's exam in their packed, 18,000-seat classroom.

Danny Manning, a team manager and director of student-athlete development, knows the team will be ready.

"This is not a series where you play five games and it's the best of five," Manning said. "It's a one-game tournament. Anything can happen in a one-game tournament. And we all understand that."

Manning already has aced the NCAA test as a player, leading the Jayhawks to a national title in 1988 -- a run that ended with an 83-79 victory over Oklahoma in Kemper Arena. Some fans forget that KU had to squeak by often-overlooked Murray State, 61-58, in the second round of that tournament to advance.

Tonight's second-round game carries the same significance.

"This isn't a test," Manning said. "This is like an end-of-the-year grade. If you lose, you have to start over again next year -- and I mean the whole grade, not just the class."

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