A thought camped in my mind and I decided to write it down before it died of loneliness: More than just the Kansas University basketball players have improved this season. The Allen Fieldhouse crowd has gotten even better too. Louder. Prouder.
And what could have caused that, other than the team exceeding expectations?
Maybe, just maybe, in the final years of the ticket fraud that padded the pockets of folks now serving sentences, the ever-changing faces of those sitting in some of the best seats prevented a sense of community from growing with each game. Maybe, just maybe, donors started sensing they weren’t getting what they paid for and looked with suspicion at those with better seats and wondered how much, if anything, they donated to the Williams Fund.
Last year, honesty was restored to the system, but a transition was necessary in order for all the resentment of those who didn’t get what they paid for in previous seasons to fade.
The crowd for the Big Monday blowout against Baylor brought it from opening tip to the final horn. The loudmouth in the ball cap who sits near the visiting bench let the refs have it with extra acidity to his tongue, sharper fangs to his ever-pointing index finger. The dunks drew louder roars. The nervous silence that sometimes surfaces when KU falls behind never materialized during the Bears’ short stay ahead on the scoreboard.
It’s not easy to say why, but the crowd feels even livelier.
Before getting to another question that involves the basketball team, consider philosophical ones that rank behind it in degree of difficulty:
What came first, the Jayhawk or the egg?
Because he is the only Kansas football player who has played for new coach Charlie Weis, is Notre Dame transfer quarterback Dayne Crist, in a sense, the team’s only returning starter?
These questions present a greater challenge than: If Nebraska makes it financially enticing for Kansas to be the first visitor in the opening basketball game played in the 16,000-seat arena set to open in 2013, should KU accept the invitation. Answer: no. The Cornhuskers left the Big 12, remember?
The toughest question yet posed: Which player in KU’s cohesive, fast and agile defensive juggernaut of a starting five has improved the most since a year ago?
Thomas Robinson, who had four double-doubles and averaged 14.6 minutes last season and has had 13 double-doubles this season and is playing 30.6 minutes a game?
Tyshawn Taylor, coming off back-to-back 28-point games and playing with such contagious confidence?
Jeff Withey, who suffered from a paint allergy a year ago, now leads the Big 12 in blocked shots, makes players slam on the brakes on their drives to the hoop, has four double-doubles and had nine offensive rebounds against Baylor?
Glue guy Travis Releford, so much faster and more explosive than most complementary players?
Elijah Johnson, the early favorite to rank as next season’s most improved Jayhawk?
You make the call by casting your vote above.