College basketball is back. Oklahoma State has already completed three games this season and its new bunch of players look primed to make a run at the NCAA tournament. With LeBryan Nash and Phil Forte leading the charge, OSU should find itself in the thick of things in March, according to Joe Lunardi.
While Oklahoma State has traditionally been a pretty good basketball program, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the attendance at the games in Gallagher-Iba. This isn’t a new problem that has arisen this season; I saw last year as well. Unless OSU was playing a marquee game the stadium would not get anywhere near the 13,611 capacity level that GIA can fit.
When I went to the game last night, I was disappointed in the turnout of fans. Sure, we played an NCAA Division II team, but that is no excuse. I hear fans always complain that our basketball program isn’t what it should be and that we should “Fire Ford” or make some drastic change to the culture to make us better. But where does it really start?
When I was driving home from class on Monday evening I was listening to Hot 93.7. Usually, I would be listening to a Maroon 5 or Katy Perry single but at the time it was the sports talk hour (I am assuming). They were talking about the home crowd at basketball games and how our crowd has been somewhat lackluster over the past couple of years. They mentioned how players feed off the energy of the crowd and they play better because of it.
The whole time I was listening, I was nodding in agreement.
I recall two games from last year in which the crowd played a huge role in how the game was played. OSU’s games versus Iowa State and versus Kansas. In the game versus Iowa State, I remember the bleachers shaking and breaking from the fans jumping up and down. The Cowboys lost, but I felt as if the fans rallied the team to fight all the way through three overtimes. The game versus Kansas fans played a big role in distracting Self, Wiggins and Embiid as Smart and the Cowboys won the game essentially assuring them a spot in the tournament last year.
I believe in the team this year. I liked what I saw from our veteran players and the newer players. We have a lot more size this year and a wealth of experience. If we want OSU to be a primetime, nationally recognized basketball program its time to make a change on our own. What I saw on Tuesday night was sad, quite honestly. However, I envisioned a packed GIA rowdy as any stadium in the country. The change starts with the fans that support the student-athletes that working vigorously hard to bring OSU back to prominence.
You may be thinking that games won’t be as fun if they are not versus a good opponent, but why does it matter? The game is about the experience. The only way to make the experience worthwhile is to pack the stadium with rowdy Cowboys fans all with one common goal: be loud. The games are much better when the crowd works together in unity i.e. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky.
Don’t wait on the marquee matchup or the next big game. Look up the schedule and try to make it to every game. There are 47,186 residents in Stillwater; more than 50,000 fans can fill up Boone Pickens every Saturday; and there are more than 25,000 students at OSU who all can find time to root on the Cowboys. Why not pack GIA every night?
http://www.okstate.com/facilities/gallagher-iba.html, http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/iteration/135, http://www.riderangersride.com/schedule.asp?sportID=3, http://www.city-data.com/city/Stillwater-Oklahoma.html, http://www.okstate.com/facilities/boone-pickens-stadium.html, https://admissions.okstate.edu/faq/what-student-population