As some of you long time readers know, I'm a New Yorker so this Jeremy Lin story is intriguing to me. He has taken a franchise that quite honestly has sucked for the better part of 12 years and in 2 weeks made them newsworthy. Heck, I ACTUALLY WATCHED A NBA GAME ON TV when they played the Lakers for the first time in about a decade.
So you know where I stand... I gave up on the NBA in 1999. Haven't watched more than a total of 48 minutes TOTAL on TV since then. I realize the product is sooooo much better than the college game, but I have no connection so it hasn't caught my interest... until now.
Lin probably wouldn't have been a story if he played for Charlotte, Washington, Sacramento, or some other non-major market. He probably wouldn't be as big of a deal if he wasn't of Asian persuasion (I hate even typing that since he's an American, but anyways), but his play has IMO been a boom for the NBA. He's the underdog we all (well most of us) like to root for. He doesn't fit the stereotype of a baller, but he is.
Back in the early 90s a lightly regarded guard came out of nowhere to propel the Knicks to the 1994 NBA Finals. His name... John Starks. While he is blamed for losing Game 7 to the Rockets, the truth is without him (and Anthony Mason) the Knicks never would've sniffed the finals.
I've been to a few NBA games across this country in those 12 years (Orlando, Philly, Atlanta, Phoenix)... and have left most of them by the 3rd quarter. Now I might actually buy tickets to see the Knicks in Atlanta (got to check the schedule).
As I watched the Tuesday's contest with Florida I noticed quite a few empty seats. While I realize it was Valentine's Day the fact that a top 15 team was in town to play in a VERY IMPORTANT GAME for us left me a little bitter. I know someone is going to ask why I wasn't there... well if I lived say... only an hour out I would've, but I don't. I realize the start time played a part as well, but come on now... don't we have enough in the Tuscaloosa area to fill the place up for a marquee game?
Yes, winning brings in more fans, but up to last week we were doing so with the team making a run to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. Sadly, suspensions and some questionable play/coaching has put a dent into that, but man... it's kind of a bummer to see a less than capacity arena hosting a top 15 squad. We have 2 posters on here that travel great distances to see the hoops team play... wish we had about a couple thousand more like that. I do what I can, but I won't come close to putting that kind of effort in.
Where do the problems lie? Here is where I think they are:
- Students: student support for basketball IMO has been lackluster ever since Wimp Sanderson was relieved of his job in 1992. Even under Gottfried, we've had spotty attendance. I'd be all for moving the student section to seats where they can have a greater impact on the game if I knew they'd show up. Even the Barn gives their 34 student basketball fans decent seats.
- Tide Totals: The 'donation' program that encompasses all Crimson Tide sports. There are quite a few people that purchase season basketball tickets to improve their football 'spot.' That spot can be anything from better cfb seats, access to road games, SECCG tickets, and even a chance to buy BCSCG tickets. We need to separate football from basketball if we really want basketball to thrive. I know there are a lot of people that want to go to a basketball game, but can only get 'crappy' seats... only to enter and see plenty of good seats going unoccupied.
- Marketing: Let's face facts and understand that Tuscaloosa alone cannot support Tide Hoops so the University needs to do a better job of marketing the program to the mothership of Birmingham... and Huntsville. Play a game each year at both places. Start a instate tournament of sorts incorporating USA, UAH, UAB, UA, Barn, Bama St, etc.... get the people of the state interested in the game. Market more to young people... my marketing to my oldest has worked as he wants to watch us play anytime we're on TV... and as the other posters on this blog can attest to, attends games with me.
The next 5 games are critical. IMO we have to go 4-1 to secure a bid to the NCAA tournament. Anything less and we'll probably need a nice run in the SEC tournament... depending on our conference record. 8-8... a run to the semis, worse than that... got to win the damn thing.
This season went from promise to a nightmare over the course of a week. Along the way it got lost (4 in a row), then found (beating Ole Miss and the Barn), and now lost again. Hopefully the rumors are true that Mitchell comes back Saturday and Green follows him the following game. Whether you like them or not they are essential to this team. We can somewhat survive w/o Mitchell, but as you saw Saturday and this past Tuesday... Green is crucial to this team. We are playing a suddenly enthused Viles squad tomorrow so we need to right the ship quick.