Archive for Monday, February 18, 2008

Keegan: Sunday starts white, ends pink

February 18, 2008


The snow piled up on the driveway hinted at what surely would be a small turnout for the Kansas University women's basketball team's "Think Pink Day" in Allen Fieldhouse. The snow figured to keep most sports fans in front of their televisions.

The viewing day started by tuning in Professional Bowlers Association action on ESPN. The 2008 Pepsi Challenge at Thunder Alley in Omaha featured one match between two of the sport's cult heroes, one of long-standing popularity, the other a rookie making a huge splash.

Pete Weber's reputation as a bowler who does less than his best on televised events grew. Could it be he wears shades indoors to dull the glare of the klieg lights?

Rhino Page, former bowler at KU and well on his way to earning PBA rookie of the year honors, knocked Weber out of the running, and wound up taking home a $6,500 third-place check.

Watching the left-handed Page take down Weber made for good theater, but in sports, nothing quite matches the juice of a live event, even one fraught with flawed performances.

The drive to Allen Fieldhouse included one pleasant surprise: a long line at the ticket office, despite soggy roads.

Most of the season-high 6,122 spectators wore pink. Pink uniforms for the players, cheerleaders, yell leaders and dance team. Pink whistles for the referees. Think Pink Day even ended with a victory for the home team: Kansas 62, Nebraska 61.

The thrilling finish compensated for the winning team's 22 turnovers, five coming on consecutive possessions in the latter stages of the second half, and for KU a stretch of seven minutes without a field goal late in the first half.

Amid the imperfection, Kansas senior forward Taylor McIntosh came within two turnovers of a perfect day. She made all three field goal attempts, all five free-throw attempts, and totaled 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Her put-back of a missed free throw gave Kansas a 61-58 lead with 58 seconds remaining.

KU (15-9, 4-7 in the Big 12) remains an extreme longshot to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but as Think Pink Sunday showed, intercollegiate athletics need not always be judged by the bottom line. On this day, the name on the backs of the pink T-shirts KU players wore in place of warmup jerseys said a lot about common causes shared and lasting friendships formed.

The "M. Hudy" on the T-shirts stood for Mary Hudy, mother of Andrea Hudy, strength and conditioning coach for the volleyball and men's and women's basketball teams.

Mary Hudy suffers from cancer that is not contained, Andrea said. A shipment of the T-shirts arrived to Mary on Saturday in Huntingdon, Pa.

"She cried all day," a smiling Andrea said. "It's nice to have a community of people support what you're going through, and what a lot of other people are going through."

Breast cancer survivors, including men's basketball coach Bill Self's administrative assistant, Joanie Stephens, were called onto the court at halftime to receive a heartfelt standing ovation from the audience.

A check for $6,122 - one dollar for every fan in attendance - was written from Kansas Athletics to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and the goal of raising breast cancer awareness was achieved.


mom_of_three 9 years, 10 months ago

It was a great game! I normally don't wear pink, but I wore that shirt!

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