K-State, Butler fans revel in wins
The stories and sports talk on the Poplar Pub patio seemed as thick as the aromatic cigar smoke swirling into the crisp afternoon air Friday.
it was an off day in the NCAA Salt Lake City regional basketball big dance. Kansas State fans adopted this bar as their home away from home. Many spent Friday afternoon reveling in the Wildcats’ double overtime victory over Xavier Thursday night.
‘Today is when we enjoy it,” said Ben Foster of Clay Center, Kansas. “It was not a lot of fun last night. The stress outweighed the fun.”
Wildcat fan Rocky Downing was attending his first Sweet 16. he was so excited after the game that he lit a victory cigar outside and then had to ask a local if that was legal.
“To have a game like that happen was surreal,” he said. “It was like I’m not even here. this was my first time and I just saw that.”
Gary Adelhardt of Nashville, Kan., said the game took a couple of years off his life.
The K-State fans even managed to recruit a trio of Syracuse fans over to the Wildcats’ side. Many Orange supporters stayed in town even though their top-seeded team was upset by Butler Thursday.
“Butler’s got to be scoped out for the fluke they are,” said Eric Hartmann, a Syracuse fan who now lives in Boise, Idaho.
The stories flowed faster than the beer. That was especially true since arch-rival Kansas was upset and didn’t even make it as far as the Sweet 16.
“The highlight of our trip came
when we were going to the airport and drove through Lawrence [home of Kansas] and waved goodbye at them,” said Foster.
The Kansas State-Kansas rivalry seems every bit as intense as Utah-BYU.
John Blackwell of Larned, Kansas, has one daughter at Kansas and another at Kansas State. he said the girls got into it pretty good last week. while he hasn’t disowned the Jayhawk daughter, he makes his wife write the Kansas tuition checks before stamping them all over with K-State “power cat” symbols.
“That was an unbelievable game,” he said. “We’ll never see another game like that in our lifetime. I couldn’t even remember whether there was a second or third overtime.”
Meanwhile, dozens of Butler fans lingered and celebrated at the Sheraton Hotel lobby, some asking players to pose for photos with them as the Bulldogs returned after practice.
The hotel bar, normally called Extra Innings, had been renamed “The Dawg Pound” and a few Butler fans were starting to settle in for the evening.
Former Butler football players John Doctor of Tampa, Fla., and Steve Kollias of Indianapolis, who were in school in the mid-1980s when the movie Hoosiers was being filmed in the venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse that still serves as the school’s home court, spent the day skiing at Deer Valley along with Kollias’ 14-year-old daughter Keegan.
Doctor had to excuse himself to wish his wife happy birthday. he felt a little guilty missing that big day but his spouse certainly understood.
“She said if Butler wins and makes it to the Elite eight for the first time and you’re not there, I’ll never hear the end of it,” he laughed.
“It’s easy to root for these kids,” said Kollias. “They are great kids. We’ve had four academic All-Americans in the last three years.”
after all the excitement of Thursday’s games, Butler and Kansas State fans seemed to need a chance to wind down, relax a little bit, see a few sights and get recharged for Saturday’s chance to win a trip to the Final Four.
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