I get so tired of hearing what crappy college basketball fans Coloradans are. If you build it, they will come. If CU ever had sustained (and by "sustained," I mean two or three years of going to the NCAA tournament) success, I am confident the crowds would come. But even the best fans won't come out consistently for a team that is consistently bad.
I really, really hope they make a commitment to basketball now - starting with the coach and the money put into the program.
air force basketball
Crowds put AFA at top of the heap
By Natalie Meisler
Denver Post Sports Writer
Article Last Updated: 02/16/2007 01:23:55 AM MST
Long viewed as a quiet, quaint gymnasium more at home in the 1950s, Clune Arena has developed into one of the toughest places to win in college basketball.
After Gonzaga lost Monday, Air Force and BYU - with the smallest (5,834) and largest (22,700) arenas, respectively, in the Mountain West Conference - became the Division I leaders with 29-game home winning streaks.
For veteran MWC coaches, the improved atmosphere at Air Force has been a curse.
During the MWC's first season in 1999-2000, the Falcons averaged 1,202 fans. Crowds in the hundreds were commonplace. But this season, to the dismay of fire marshals, an arena record 6,511 were shoehorned in for the New Mexico game Jan. 9. Cadets stood four-deep lining the concourse.
"Just because you're at home doesn't mean you should exhale or feel comfortable," Falcons coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "You have to make it a home-court advantage by playing well."
It's not the cadets out of uniform in Section 8 who make Clune Arena so inhospitable, although they make it more colorful. It's the players in uniform.
"We all like to make it the building for the environment, but the bottom line comes down to the players," Wyoming coach Steve McClain said.
New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay agrees.
"Every team in the league has a good home-court edge," said McKay, who plays at the 18,018-seat Pit. "Some are better than others. Air Force and BYU are playing great here of late, and they have excellent players as well."
BYU crowds are normally known for being exceedingly polite. The Cougars crowd adopted the universal chant of "overrated" when BYU beat Air Force on Jan. 27, leading Bzdelik to observe, "I think that's a sign of disrespect for their own team."
The longest combined WAC-MWC home-court run belongs to Utah, which ran off 54 consecutive home victories between 1997-2000. The string included Utah's Elite Eight and Final Four teams. UNLV owns the longest mark for a current MWC member at 72 consecutive home victories from 1974-78, ninth best in Division I.
There are downsides to becoming a top-25 club. Gone at Air Force are the days of arriving at Clune five minutes before tipoff and getting a choice parking spot and a seat near center court.
Let alone a chance to sit with Section 8.
"Letting the cadets come in civilian clothes lets them be rowdy," TCU coach Neil Dougherty. "When it gets going like it did, there aren't many college atmospheres that are better."
Natalie Meisler can be reached at 303-954-1295 or firstname.lastname@example.org