Nearly 100 fans gathered at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center along with Kent Mayor John Fender and KSU Athletic Director Laing Kennedy to give the Flashes one last pat on the back before they departed for Iowa, where they'll battle Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday evening at approximately 6:15 p.m., EST.
"The community and school support for this team has been incredible," said Kennedy, while kicking off Thursday's ceremony. "You talk about a great college-town relationship ... it doesn't get any better than this."
Kennedy then read a proclamation written by KSU President Carol Cartwright declaring Thursday, March 12, KSU women's basketball team day on campus. And Fender later followed suit with a proclamation of his own, making Saturday, March 14, KSU women's basketball team day in Kent.
Flashes' coach Bob Lindsay, who guided his squad to 21 consecutive victories against Mid-American Conference competition and to the school's first-ever MAC Tournament title, then introduced the 1997-98 Golden Flashes.
"We really appreciate everyone who took the time to come out and see us off," said Lindsay, whose Flashes will be making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years. "Now we're off to Ames, Iowa, where we hear it will be sunny and mid-80s on Saturday."
Temperatures are expected to rise into the 30s this weekend in Ames, which absorbed over a foot of snow earlier this week.
Still, although Iowa in March is certainly no vacation spot, KSU has sold its entire allotment of tickets (about 100). The bus trip the university had planned was canceled due to a lack of interest, but several fans are planning to fly to Iowa and the parents of many team members are making the trip from their homes as well.
According to Iowa State University officials, over 6,500 tickets had already been sold as of Thursday morning and around 9,000 fans were expected to be on hand at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday.
But the Flashes know they'll have a faithful flock of fans in their corner as well.
"This is truly a wonderful time to be at Kent," said Kennedy. "The outpouring of support and interest for this team has been tremendous, and we know coach Lindsay and his team will represent the university well. We're looking forward to a great weekend."