Good things come in threes, such as small, medium and large cups of coffee. On a national scale, most things good in sports in February and March happen on the basketball court, unless watching grown men stretch away the sins of winter and then play meaningless exhibition games in Arizona and Florida floats your boat.
Beginning today and continuing Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse and concluding on a Big Monday night in Norman, Okla., three compelling basketball games involving Kansas University sprinkle a little March into late February.
First, Nebraska visits the fieldhouse today for a 3 p.m. tipoff. The intrigue extends beyond the basketball matchup that pits Nebraska’s greatest strength against KU’s greatest vulnerability. The Cornhuskers know how to pester teams into playing sloppy basketball, and Kansas isn’t nearly as clean passing the basketball as Todd Reesing is passing the football. A Kansas victory maintains game-of-this-or-any-millennium status of Monday’s trip to Oklahoma, which could be ranked No. 1 by then.
More on that game later. First, a suggestion for those attending today’s contest. Just in case the athletic department makes the mistake of repeating the senseless and relentless bombardment of the senses that occurred in Wednesday night’s victory against Iowa State, bring ear plugs. The dreaded loudspeaker music common in NBA arenas, where evidently fans don’t bring enough passion on their own, reared its ugly voice at the fieldhouse. Not surprisingly, it silenced the crowd. That’s what happens when human beings are assaulted by noise pollution. It exhausts them into a state of inaction. Think of it as a more subtle, gradual version of a frontal lobotomy. The day Major League Baseball cranked up the volume spelled the end to father-and-son chats about the benefits and drawbacks of drawing in the infield. It’s shocking KU has gone down this road, considering the customer-friendly, classy nature of recent improvements to the game experience in both football and basketball.
If this continues, the best way to picture the impact it will have on the noise generated by paying customers is to compare Jack Nicholson’s Randle Patrick McMurphy at the beginning of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to the character at the end of the film. Multiply both by 16,300.
Anyway, while you still have your hearing, listen up to women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson’s plea to attend Sunday’s noon tipoff against Iowa State, and don’t forget to wear pink. Bonnie’s donating a buck to breast cancer research for every student who attends the “Pink Zone” game, and the athletic department is giving $1 for every fan in attendance. Last year’s pink party was a blast. Go out of your way to attend this one, and you won’t regret it. The game will be played with 10-foot hoops. Shockingly, my suggestion for the sport to rewrite its rules and play with nine-foot baskets hasn’t gained much traction. Poll voters are weighing in against the innovative idea at a nearly 3-to-1 ratio.
As for the 8 p.m. tipoff in Norman, what more can be said about it other than to reiterate that if the men defeat the Cornhuskers on Saturday, it will make for a really, really, really Big Monday?