It would appear that basketball is a big thing in Lawrence. A very big thing. It would appear that college basketball is as big as professional basketball over here and the University of Kansas consistently has one of the best teams in the country. This would appear to make for some passionate fans. It would also appear that we have quite a fierce rivalry with the University of Missouri which goes back to pre-Civil War days and the whole pro-/anti-slavery issue which got rather violent in this part of the world.
The regular season finished at the start of March. Just before this we had beaten Missouri at home after losing to them away. It’s fair to say that downtown went a little mad after this. People high-fiving in the street, beeping car horns and waving flags. This however was tame compared to what was to come.
After the regular season the Big 12 conference, which Kansas is a part of and actually consists of ten teams, has a post-season tournament. Having won the regular season we were seeded first. However we failed to live up to expectations losing in the semi-finals. Although this was a disappointment people didn’t seem too disappointed as still had the National Championships to go.
For the national championship we were a number two seed, which meant we were actually ranked 5th as there are four number one seeds, four number two etc due to the way the tournament is structured. We made the regional semi-finals which I watched with a bunch of other people round someone else’s house and then we managed to win the regional final, thus beating our seeding, which I watched round Charles’s house. Charles was one of the climbers and will appear again in this post shortly.
This was also the time of many, many defenses, both of PhDs and Masters so on the Wednesday after the regional finals I went out for a couple of drinks in celebration of Allie, the girl who recommended my apartment to me, successfully passing her Masters. The next day was my birthday which I happened to share with one of the other students in my department so there more drinks.
Saturday was the day of the National semi-final, which actually was a proper semi-final as there were only four teams left by this point. I again watched it at Charles and after we’d run I decided to head down town. If I thought it had been mad when we beat Missouri it was nothing compared to after this win. The police had closed off several streets and they were full of thousands of drunken people celebrating, climbing lamp posts, bouncing on cars, setting of fireworks and all sorts of other hi-jinx. I stayed long enough to get a feel for it before deciding to head to the safety of home.
I’d signed up to play for a football (soccer) team with several people from my department. Our first game was cancelled as it clashed with the regional finals so our first game was on the Sunday. We lost 1-0 and I successfully managed not to make a fool of myself.
Monday was going to be an interesting day. Not only was it the National final, Chalres was also defending his PhD, which he did successfully. He’d already arranged a party at his for this reason so there were about thirty people at his house for a celebration and watching the basketball. We lost the basketball but I think it’s fair to say that everyone still had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.