Townie guide to... KU basketball fanaticism

Sarah Fertig, lawyer/auditor ("a hybrid of the two most hated professions"), baking enthusiast, basketball psychotic

Years in Lawrence: 11 What is this "KU Basketball" of which the youth speak so fondly? Why do so many of your kind froth and twitch with the palsy whenever it arises?

"I really don't understand how people cannot enjoy KU basketball. What's not to like? Our team is always stellar, the games are exciting and it brings glory to a state best known for tornadoes and religious wackos. Plus, the whole community gets into it. If you were here when KU made the finals in 2003-or better yet, when we won in 1988-you'd understand. I was downtown that night and saw a crusty punk and a frat guy hugging and making 'We're No. 1' hand gestures. It was a beautiful thing."

Are you the teensiest bit miffed that KU football has eclipsed basketball this season? Has Bill Self been demoted to Vice Jesus, serving beneath the Savior Mangino?

"Hardly. It's awesome that our football team is having such an amazing season, but the basketball team has that kind of season EVERY year. Yes, I'm bragging."

Any pregame rituals you engage in? Do they involve alcohol or fertility dances?

"I used to ceremoniously light a KU candle at the beginning of the season and again at the beginning of March Madness, but I stopped because it's crazy and doesn't actually help. For big games, I'll read about the opponent and spend the day fretting about the outcome, but that's as far as rituals go."

What are the ideal game viewing conditions, either at home or at out in public?

"I tend to spaz out when I watch a game, so I prefer to watch at home to avoid embarrassing myself in public. I just bought a plasma HDTV to enhance the experience, with the ESPN HD pack to follow once the 'real' season starts in January. If you're going out to watch, the Jackpot is a good spot, and I hear Quinton's is good as well. Really, any bar with good TVs and a crowd you like is a good choice. But I prefer the couch with my boyfriend and a beer or two."


If one were stranded on an Andean mountaintop with the KU basketball team, which player would you eat first? Which player would you choose to be on your team for a pick-up game using the skull of the player you just ate as a ball? Which player would you choose to start a new race of super athletic mountain people with?

"It makes sense to pick the tallest starter to create a breed of super-humans with, but unfortunately it also makes sense to eat the biggest one. Sasha Kaun is 6'11", so he's the obvious choice for both, but that would be cruel. Cole Aldrich is the same height, but we'll need him in the paint once Sasha graduates so I'd spare him. Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson are close in height-6'9" and 6'8" respectively-so maybe they could draw straws with Sasha. Is it possible to bring back Giddens and eat him? This question makes me uncomfortable."

When the inevitable heartbreaking loss in the post-season arrives, what's the best coping mechanism-narcotics, denial or a cocktail of the two?

"I'm going to ignore the defeatist tone of your question and say that in past years, I've dealt with tournament disappointment by moping around my house and pointedly avoiding anyone who would try to console me. Cookies also help. But there's a hole in my life until Late Night in the fall."

What's your assessment of the team this year? Predictions?

"I believe in the power of jinxes, so I won't make any grand predictions. I do think Mario Chalmers-a.k.a. "Super Mario" to normal people, "Super Nintendo Chalmers" to nerdy Simpsons fans-and Jackson are going to have amazing years. Once Sherron recovers he'll kick just as much ass as he did last year. Our freshmen have diverse talents and will be huge assets once Self decides how and when to use them. I predict that Brandon Rush will go pro after this season, and possibly Arthur too if he stops making sloppy errors. I'll also make my annual prediction that Duke will lose in the first round no matter how much hair dye Coach K uses."


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