Friday, February 17, 2012

Random thoughts- LINsanity, Bama hoops fan support, more

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.


Nick said...

I live in Michigan. The only Alabama game I've ever been to was our double OT loss to Arkansas in 2003. My dad and I talk about how we always need to go back but it's just so expensive.

If I lived, say, two hours away I'd be going to as many games as I could. As it is now, I go to a private school that has good sports teams but terrible fans. I would give so much to go to an SEC school.

People take for granted what they have in terms of the teams they follow and the schools they attend. Sure, we will always be a football school, but that isn't reason enough to not support a basketball team that has been at least respectable for the last decade.

Remember, there are VERY few NCAA schools that are good at both basketball and football. There aren't even that many that are SOLID in both sports. Alabama is, but you wouldn't know it judging by the Coleman crowd.

DJC said...

Bobby, you know I hate the Knicks, but Lin is a great story and I am finding it impossible to root against him.

finebammer said...

if the university wanted it, they could have it.

every time there's a chance to upgrade the program, they make some half-assed, third-rate move. the students and fans know this. they're not stupid.

the football flunkies in charge down there want a men's b'ball program that pays for itself. that's it. if they happen to get into the tournament, make a run, so be it. they have zero expectations beyond that.

that's why i get a little defensive when we're criticizing crowds.

when you put half-assed effort into something, you're going to get half-assed results.

one has to look no further than the play (or lack of) the boneheaded jamychal green.

MSmilie said...

The thing is, Bama fans have supported other sports. The gymnastics team receives a lot of support along with the softball team and, it's been a while since I've kept up with it myself, but I remember the baseball games being well-attended.

Ultimately, I think the reasons for poor basketball attendence have much to do with basketball is just not viewed well by the majority of people in the state, be it for social or racial reasons (basketball has an unfortunate stigma attached to it that, quite frankly, surburban and rural white people find unsettling), simple lack of interest in the sport or the cold hard fact that a disturbing amount of Alabama fans can only be found when the teams are winning.

Unfortunately, winning and fan support go hand in hand. You need one to encourage the other. The only sport that doesn't suffer this indignity is the football program. I rememeber the crowds were good for football games even during the 3-win season of 2000.

I understand that football is the lifeblood of the university, but Alabama has attained enough prestige that it can be world class in any sport it chooses to be if the university, the students and the fans get behind it. While a full capacity crowd for a team that is struggling may not be fun for the fans in the short-term, if highly-ranked recruits are in attendence or watching, that will make an impression and contribute to better days ahead.

Calipari is a hell of a recruiter, but the passion of Kentucky basketball and its fans is a big reason why he stockpiles #1 classes every year. It's why Nick Saban is doing the same in football, and why both coaches are so respectful of the fanbases.

39 Steps said...

It starts in the grade schools. A dynamic effort to woo the youth of this state will go a long way to build up interest in the sport. Basketball popularity in Alabama in general has taken a nose dive. It starts with the youth. CAG and other college coaches would be well advised to cultivate a love for the game among young people. It would take time and effort, but it could be done.

BamaChaos said...

I do think our B-Ball program is on a rise. Yeah the crowd absolutely sucked against Florida, following a crucial loss at LSU can hurt and make people not want to go knowing it will possibly be a loss. Other than that I think Bama Nation has been very supportive of this team(going to practices is a good start). The crowd noise at Coleman can be dismal at times but when we have the momentum the noise is unbearable and electric. I've been to about 5 games this year and every time I have been blown away by the production of Crimson Chaos, I just wish they would bring that type of interactivity at Bryant Denny.