|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Reporter Red Alert Member|
|Wednesday, 19 January 2011 20:38|
“Boy do we suck!”
Words such as these were uttered amongst frustrated fans in Redbird Arena following the ISU men’s basketball team’s loss Saturday night to Evansville, sending the Redbirds to 0-7 (now 0-8) in conference and keeping the team winless.
The night began extra early for some fans, as the doors opened sooner than usual at 4:30 p.m. for a 6:05 p.m. tipoff due to a Doug Collins bobblehead giveaway for the first 2,500 fans.
I entered the arena at 5:35 p.m., approximately 30 minutes prior to game time and noticed a huge supply of bobbleheads still remaining as I was handed one of my very own.
As always, I proceeded to the front rows of the student section on the baseline, Section D, to meet up with the usual suspects.
Many of the regulars in the close-up seats are part of the Red Alert Executive Board including: seniors Mike Messel (President) and Nick Lundeen (Treasurer), junior Joe Stokowski (Athletic Council Rep), and sophomore Pat Potter (Street Team).
Two particular student fans are extremely identifiable and stand out in the crowd. Messel and Stokowski both sport red robes at nearly every contest.
Unfortunately, student support has declined this year, compared to past seasons. Last season, both student sections, behind the basket and on the baseline, were regularly filled to capacity with rowdy fans.
Now, we are lucky to even have the first five to ten rows of students in Section D on the baseline standing and into the game, while everyone in Section G behind the basket is generally sitting down.
The overall turnout, not just students, is down as well and fans throughout the area make very little noise, so there is no home court advantage to speak of. This can all largely be attributed to the fact that stars such as Osiris Eldridge and Dinma Odiakosa, who generated a lot of interest in the community and brought a lot of success to the program, have now graduated.
The only exception to the trend of low turnouts so far this season was a Dec. 1 game against UNLV. The attendance was 6,485, nearly 2,000 more than the announced Evansville attendance on Saturday night.
The game against the then No. 23-ranked team created a buzz throughout the community, resulting in a large crowd and the arena was rocking and electric unlike others this year.
There will likely be another game atmosphere similar to the UNLV game against Bradley on Feb. 22. That might be the only one, though.
It is disappointing to see such low turnouts and I would encourage everyone to come out and support the team, despite the rocky season. Although attendance has been low, those who do bother to come out end up having a very enjoyable time.
One of the major traditions in the student section every game is “rowing,” which consists of rocking back and forth in the seats. This was done during the second half TV timeout Saturday night against Evansville.
In the student section, a fan seated in the first row holds up a white board, which generally lists the name of the player who is the target of most chants throughout the game.
Ohio’s D.J. Cooper, UIC’s Robo Kreps and UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis are some of the players who have been targets of student section cheers throughout the season.
Halftime shows seem to be crowd pleasers. The Jesse White Tumblers performance during Saturday evening’s game had fans clapping and out of their seats by the end of the show.
With the Redbirds currently on a losing streak, they need fan support now more than ever. Athletic teams often feed off of an energetic crowd and it creates a great home court advantage.
Upcoming home tilts are set for Jan. 23 against Southern Illinois and Jan. 30 versus Drake.