I’ll get to call Creighton a few more times at the Missouri Valley Tournament next week, but I’m not guaranteed a Blue Jays-Shockers matchup like I had twice over the weekend. It got me to thinking how much I’ll miss the Jays and not just their competitiveness, but their people too. I’ve always enjoyed their administrators, coaches and athletes.
In many ways Creighton and Wichita State had become each other’s measuring sticks, both bringing out the best in the other as rivals should do.
I think Shocker fans are going to miss the school they loved to hate.
Wichita State entered last week in control of its destiny in the Valley baseball hunt, but left it needing help to win the regular season title. It’s interesting that the Shockers have been a far better road team in the conference than they have been at home, going 8-1 on the road at just 7-5 at the Eck.
I’m not sure why that is, but maybe it bodes well for them as they head to Normal, Illinois for next week’s Valley Tourney. I’m not sure what to expect from WSU, they’ve been wholly inconsistent all season, so it’s not likely that they’ll find any in the season’s last two weeks.
Having said that, there is no clear favorite at the MVC’s, so why not the Shockers? Last season Creighton finished dead last in the regular season, but won the conference tournament. Go figure.
The big question for Wichita State is whether or not they’re still interested in playing. I know that sounds silly, but some teams will fight to the end, others can’t wait for the season to be over—I guess we’ll see.
The elephant in the room at Wichita State is the coaching fate of Gene Stephenson. For thirty-six years he has defined Shocker Baseball, but next season is the last under his contract and it doesn’t appear that an extension is coming.
I know how hard this must be for Athletic Director Eric Sexton and Stephenson, but—if the end is in sight, I hope they can arrive at a suitable exit strategy. There is no one who understands the importance of winning more than Gene, who’s won more than just about everybody in the history of college baseball.
Ironically, he’s become a victim of his own success--unable to keep up with the incredible standards they’ve always lived by. From a competitive standpoint, Gene’s tenure doesn’t look like it will end well, but from an historical perspective his legacy is complete.
I don’t want to see that legacy tarnished.
Making Tiger sympathetic---
Leave it to Sergio Garcia to make Tiger Woods a sympathetic figure. Garcia’s whining at last weekend’s Players Championship left me cheering for Wood’s—or maybe was it was cheering against Garcia. I’m hard pressed to think of a bigger complainer or maker of excuses in all of sports than Garcia, which makes his implosion at 17 on Sunday all the more enjoyable.
The return of Jack Bauer---
I’m so stoked to hear about the return of ‘24’ in May of 2014. This is the single best series on TV that I’ve ever watched. ‘Justified’, which just finished its third season on FX, has a chance to rise to that level—but ‘24’ is in a league of its own.
You’ll miss her without even knowing it---
In my 28 years at KWCH, I was blessed to work with some incredible people. None was better than Christina Taylor.
A native of Cyprus, who came to Wichita State with the idea of just getting an education-- she ended up putting down roots in our community. Along the way she became one of our most prized producers. An incredibly hard worker with a honed eye for news, Christina’s touch was all over KWCH for her 15 years there. In fact...before YOU read this blog post - SHE read this blog post to make sure everything was right. (Sorry for misspelling Cyprus, Christina.)
She was at her best during special coverage, the kind that demands calm when there is nothing around her but confusion. More than anything — she is a tremendous friend--- someone who always has time to listen, even when she really doesn’t.
Christina not only cared about the work she did, but about the people she did it with. A rabid Shocker hoops fan, she’s heading back to Wichita State where she will teach while in pursuit of her Masters, I wish her all the best.