The most disheartening element of Drake’s showing in the 2011 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament in St. Louis was not the opening round exit. It was the lack of fan support given to this year’s basketball squad.
A handful of students made the journey to almost fill the front row of Drake’s student section in the Scottrade Center last Thursday evening. The group could be counted on a single hand with the thumb still being free to give a big thumbs-down to the fact that only four members of our student body showed up to cheer.
Even though it took close to six minutes until junior transfer Kurt Alexander recorded a field goal for the Bulldogs with 14:11 remaining in the first half, and the Bulldogs were beaten in nearly all statistical categories by the Bradley Braves, the team at least showed up to compete. That is more than can be said for Drake’s student body.
Drake struggled to keep a constant heartbeat because the student section flat lined. Spike’s Army resembled a miniature Chihuahua shaking in the corner with its tail tucked between its legs. It was definitely not a fierce bulldog.
The number of yellow shirts worn in the Scottrade Center during the Drake game was equal to or greater than the number of blue ones. Those yellow shirts belonged to supporters of the Wichita State team, which didn’t even play until Friday evening and had to travel 110 miles farther than the Bulldogs did.
Blue shirts did fill the arena on Friday. Unfortunately, they were worn by Creighton fans. Creighton, which is similar in size to Drake, had a full student section. Its student section had painted bodies, blue wigs and overflowing spirit. Drake’s fan support was in the shadow of our rival during the festivities in St. Louis.
What happened to the recorded attendance of 11,088 fans who watched the Bulldogs beat Illinois State during the 2008 MVC tournament championship game in 2008? Nearly everybody has already tucked-and-rolled off the bandwagon created in 2008. All that is left is the driver and empty seats.
The term ‘fan’ comes from ‘fanatic,’ which according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.” A student section of four is not devotion. Will the real Drake fans please stand up?
Kudos to the four true fanatics of Drake basketball among our student body, along with the school band, cheerleaders and alumni in attendance. Those students who did show up were among the four loudest people in the Scottrade Center, but the voices of four people are easily swallowed up by an arena that has a capacity of 21,472.
It is unfortunate that our campus decided not to take part in what is considered one of the nation’s most exciting and electric mid-major tournaments. Hopefully no potential recruits witnessed the event. If they did, our campus is probably at the bottom of their list for playing atmosphere based on what was demonstrated in St. Louis.
The student body could be blamed for the lack of interest, the coaches and team could be blamed due to their second-straight losing season or the athletic department could be blamed for not pushing the tournament with tools such as providing a bus trip to St. Louis, like other schools have. Parts of all three elements came together to result in the horrendous demonstration of support.
The fact remains that the ball wasn’t dropped in supporting our basketball team in St. Louis. Instead, there wasn’t even an effort made to catch the ball.