Wichita State’s electric atmosphere will be challenge for Houston
The Cougars are on the road for arguably their biggest challenge of the season up to this point when they travel to Wichita, Kansas and face off against the No. 16 Shockers.
Although the on-court talent for Wichita State is the biggest reason why Saturday’s game will be a challenge for Houston, the rabid fan base is sure to be a factor, and the Cougars are well aware of the added obstacle they must overcome to get their fourth conference win of the season.
“Its one of the toughest venues to win in,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “It’s an elite program. Unbelievable crowd support. They were a young team last year, and Greg did a great job getting that team to improve as the team went on.”
Wichita State is coming off of its first conference loss against Temple on the road, which snapped a nine-game winning streak. Saturday’s game also marks the first home game for Wichita State since Jan. 9.
“It is definitely going to be a factor,” sophomore guard Nate Hinton said. “Their crowd is going to be riled up. They haven’t been home. They’ve had two road games I believe, so now it’s going to be a home game against Houston, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere game.”
The tales of the crazy crowds at Wichita State has even been passed down to the younger players on the team.
“They said lot of fans are going to be rowdy,” freshman guard Marcus Sasser said. “I just gotta come in and keep my composure, and try to be a leader and just play hard and compete.”
The impact of the fans goes beyond just dealing with the nuisance of a loud ruckus, and it has even affected how the team prepares to play in the past.
“You have to prepare visual signals, some hand signals, because you can’t hear in there it’s so loud,” Sampson said on how the coaching staff has prepared for dealing with Wichita State’s fans in previous meetings.
Despite the reputation the Shockers’ fans have built up, Hinton is not letting the hype change his focal point, which is to win the game.
“I can always hear the stories until I get in there, but my mind is just going to be focused on the game and not really worried on the outside,” Hinton said.