This men’s basketball season will continue on and I am blaming it on the fans. Maybe blame isn’t the correct way to say that so I’ll say “credit the fans” because I am happy that the season isn’t over. I love watching some Cardinal basketball – and if some is good, then more is better. I know there are many of you who feel the same way. About 10,000 of you came out to the Yum Center on Tuesday night to prove it. I’m thankful for all of you.
After reports that the team voted to end the season rather than play in the NIT if they did not receive an at large bid to the NCAA, I was worried that they might not be interested in this game vs a perceived inferior opponent. However, once I found out the details of the vote (that it came after the loss to NC State), I realized that the vote was made because the team was confident they were already in the field or that they could make an ACC tourney run that would have them dancing in the “Big Dance.” The NIT was not a thought at that point.
But still I wondered how they would respond after not getting the NCAA invite that they so desperately coveted. So I watched the team warm-up and was watching their body language and intensity. I saw them laughing and enjoying themselves. I was relieved to see them so loose but I still worried that they weren’t serious enough. How would that translate to the game?
Shortly into the game it seemed as though the team was not fully committed and NKU was here to give them their best shot. The fans seemed to sense that this game wasn’t going to be easy and tried several times to urge the team to make a run. But despite the urging from the fans, the team couldn’t really put a run together and could only muster 7 points in the second quarter. The Cards trailed at half 30-23.
Then the second half started. Despite Ray changing his shoes at halftime, the first few minutes of the second half seemed to be more of the same. The fans didn’t give up but rather stepped up their game. Maybe the fans were able to keep up their intensity because most were not accustomed to be sitting in the lower bowl or maybe because the refs were so bad and it gave the fans a reason to yell. Either way, the fans didn’t quit and the team took notice. Upon the fans urging, the team’s effort went to a different level.
The Cards slowly closed the gap and, because of the fans, momentum had swung to the good guys. Then this happened…
Darius Perry just caught a body on his birthday. pic.twitter.com/4OInZyK4Et
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) March 14, 2018
And just like that, the Cards took the lead – for good! The Cards outscored NKU 43-28 in the second half.
And it’s the fault of the fans.
I know many people said there were ONLY about 10,000 fans when the Cards normally average over 20,000 a game. Well, let’s put that into perspective. The program, as a whole, is in turmoil and it was a NIT game on a Tuesday night. Or if you prefer, you can compare attendance to the other NIT games on that night…
Ranking the nine opening night 9 #NIT crowds:
— rickbozich (@rickbozich) March 14, 2018
Negative fans will say not to get excited over a first round NIT game but I saw something that we, as a fan base, can learn from. For the first time in a long time, I saw the whole lower bowl standing, cheering and pouring their hearts into this team. That’s what you get when fans who don’t normally get the opportunity to be so close actually get the opportunity. In my opinion, If the regular season fans had the same intensity as Tuesday nights fans, then the Cards would most likely have 3 more wins (FSU, Syracuse and Seton Hall).
I’m fully aware that the normal season ticket holders who sit in the lower level are the ones pouring money into the program but there has to be a way to make some of those seats available during the regular season to fans who will show up early, stay till the end and cheer their hearts out. Maybe there can be some affordable ticket packages offered to fans in certain lower level sections.
I don’t know the answer but I know there has to be a way to get the passionate, diehard fans closer to the team on a more regular basis during the regular season. After this game, more people are aware of the perpetual cycle of the team feeding off of the fans energy and the fans reacting to the elevated play of the team due to that energy.
I just want to say thank you to all the fans who have remained loyal throughout. These past couple of years have been tough. Especially with fans taking sides pertaining to coaches, athletic directors, and everything in between. That also can be contributed to the passion of this fan base (which I LOVE!). It’s probably going to get worse before it get’s better but we need to try our best to stick together and support our team. In the end, we are all on the same team.
Tuesday nights crowd gave me hope and I blame/credit you for the victory – thank you Card Family.
As Always, GO CARDS!