VIDEO: KU fans who came to Sweet 16 practice

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 19:27:41-04

The Jayhawks didn't practice until after 3 p.m. Wednesday, the last of four teams to hold open practice in Louisville before Thursday night's Sweet 16. That meant several fans sat inside KFC Yum! Center for hours watching other teams practice before getting a glimpse of their boys from Lawrence. 

"We've been doing some scouting," joked Gregg Smith. 

He and his wife Judy drove all the way from St. Paul, Kansas for KU's regional semifinal against No. 5 seed Maryland on Thursday night. The couple have been to every postseason KU game for decades. 

"We're senior groupies," said Gregg Smith.

"If there's any opportunity to go anywhere to follow them we will do that," added Judy Smith. 

The two fans were also unique in that they were part of a select few who made it into town two days before the big game. Nearly everyone else at KU's practice was from the tri-state area - a region dominated by Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky fans. 

Keri Frantz is a KU alum who brought her five sons to the practice. She and her family reside in Lexington, Wildcat country. 

"It's the proper way to spell KU, not UK," Frantz said while laughing. 

Kentucky native Cedric Halton even switched his allegiance after watching Danny Manning and the miracles. 

"Well I was once a Kentucky fan...shhhh," he said. 

Judy Weslander and her husband made the short drive from southern Indiana. 

 "We're Hoosiers but we love the Jayhawks. That makes us pretty unique," she said. 

And the Becks, native to Cincinnati, also made the trip to watch practice, at all costs. 

"We're pretty obsessed," said Travis Beck, who has spent thousands following the team this season, from Maui to Lawrence to now Louisville. 

His son Tyler even left his family spring break vacation. 

"I said bye-bye in-laws. I'm gonna go watch Kansas in the Sweet 16," he said. 

But of all the fans in attendance Wednesday, possibly none may be as confident as the Smiths. 

"Know where we're going next? Houston!" Said Gregg Smith. 

And possibly he's right. KU appears to be on a four-year cycle: 2008 National Championship and 2012 Final Four.

Kansas tips off against Maryland Thursday night at 8:40 p.m. Central. 


Josh Helmuth can be reached at

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