basketball comic

Northwest men’s basketball has lost one game in the last 23 months. The Bearcats have been a top-ranked basketball team in Division II for half a decade. They’ve lost six games in their last 130 matchups.

And still, this season, the Bearcats haven’t experienced the same support at Bearcat Arena they were offered a season ago, despite the fact that they haven’t lost a game in the venue since 2018.

By the numbers, attendance at Bearcat Arena is up so far this season compared to last year’s pace. The Bearcats have drawn an average crowd of 1,189 fans per game in their first 12 home contests this season, compared to 1,090 fans in the same timeframe a season ago.

But the crowds, this season, have been different. And more particularly, they’ve been quieter, a phenomenon sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins highlighted in the aftermath of Northwest’s 83-57 win over Fort Hays State Jan. 25 at Bearcat Arena.

“Listen, I don’t know what it is, but last year (the crowd) would be into it the whole game,” Hudgins said. “(The crowd) just started like, going down. Like I could literally hear everything on the court. I could hear everyone’s shoes stepping, I could hear everyone talking. … Normally, I’ll have a little bit of trouble hearing stuff. But it was just silent in the gym. I just wanted someone to say something, someone to clap — something.”

A request for more cheers isn’t something that should have to come from a sophomore guard who has lost one basketball game in his collegiate career. It’s not the kind of request that should have to come from one of the best players on the best team in the conference. It’s not the kind of request that should have to come from Hudgins.

But it is a request that came from Hudgins on a night that he recorded the first triple-double in Northwest’s program history, in the midst of a season that has brought near-record attendance numbers. The decreased noise level within Bearcat Arena, which isn’t exactly trackable but is certainly palpable, is illogical in more ways than one.

“After a while, parents — our parents, they love us — so they were like, ‘Alright, we’ll clap and cheer for y’all,’” Hudgins said. “So, when they start going, we start going. Like, it’s a home game for a reason — you know what I mean?”

There’s no point in going through all the trouble of attending a basketball game if you aren’t going to engage with what the players are doing on the court.

It’s not just that the Bearcats are blowing teams out of the water like they tended to last season and like they’ve done frequently over their last four games, winning each by at least 20 points. And it’s not just that the pep band was slow to make it’s 2020 debut. And it’s not that the team is less excitable than a season ago. It’s that fans are less engaged with what’s happening on the court, mostly refusing to cheer when Northwest is playing defense, the one time coach Ben McCollum has requested fans to cheer.

The team has, by and large, given fans more compelling moments packed within closer games, and still, fan engagement has tapered inexplicably.

This time a year ago, Northwest was beating opponents at home by close to 20 points on a biweekly basis. If anything, there was less of a reason to cheer then than there is now. The Bearcats one regular-season home game in the calendar year of 2019 that was decided by less than 15 points. They’ve already played three such games in 2020.

Northwest is, once again, the No. 1 team in the country. The Bearcats have won 16 games in a row and 62 of their last 63 games. They’re on the cusp on clinching a seventh-straight MIAA title, a feat they could accomplish Feb. 20 with a win over Missouri Southern at Bearcat Arena.

With a win over Southern, the Bearcats would make history, again. There should be fans there to see it. And they should cheer, too.

“I hope it gets a little bit better,” Hudgins said. “We still appreciate the fans. They still come out. It’s still fun to see everyone out. But for the fans to be engaged, it would be really nice.”

Northwest men’s basketball has lost one game in the last 23 months. The Bearcats have been a top-ranked basketball team in Division II for half a decade. They’ve lost six games in their last 130 matchups. 

 

And still, this season, the Bearcats haven’t experienced the same support at Bearcat Arena they were offered a season ago, despite the fact that they haven’t lost a game in the venue since 2018. 

 

By the numbers, attendance at Bearcat Arena is up so far this season compared to last year’s pace. The Bearcats have drawn an average crowd of 1,189 fans per game in their first 12 home contests this season, compared to 1,090 fans in the same timeframe a season ago. 

 

But the crowds, this season, have been different. And more particularly, they’ve been quieter, a phenomenon sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins highlighted in the aftermath of Northwest’s 83-57 win over Fort Hays State Jan. 25 at Bearcat Arena. 

 

“Listen, I don’t know what it is, but last year (the crowd) would be into it the whole game,” Hudgins said. “(The crowd) just started like, going down. Like I could literally hear everything on the court. I could hear everyone’s shoes stepping, I could hear everyone talking. … Normally, I’ll have a little bit of trouble hearing stuff. But it was just silent in the gym. I just wanted someone to say something, someone to clap — something.” 

 

A request for more cheers isn’t something that should have to come from a sophomore guard who has lost one basketball game in his collegiate career. It’s not the kind of request that should have to come from one of the best players on the best team in the conference. It’s not the kind of request that should have to come from Hudgins. 

 

But it is a request that came from Hudgins on a night that he recorded the first triple-double in Northwest’s program history, in the midst of a season that has brought near-record attendance numbers. The decreased noise level within Bearcat Arena, which isn’t exactly trackable but is certainly palpable, is illogical in more ways than one. 

 

“After a while, parents — our parents, they love us — so they were like, ‘Alright, we’ll clap and cheer for y’all,’” Hudgins said. “So, when they start going, we start going. Like, it’s a home game for a reason — you know what I mean?”

 

There’s no point in going through all the trouble of attending a basketball game if you aren’t going to engage with what the players are doing on the court. 

 

It’s not just that the Bearcats are blowing teams out of the water like they tended to last season and like they’ve done frequently over their last four games, winning each by at least 20 points. And it’s not just that the pep band was slow to make it’s 2020 debut. And it’s not that the team is less excitable than a season ago. It’s that fans are less engaged with what’s happening on the court, mostly refusing to cheer when Northwest is playing defense, the one time coach Ben McCollum has requested fans to cheer. 

 

The team has, by and large, given fans more compelling moments packed within closer games, and still, fan engagement has tapered inexplicably.  

 

This time a year ago, Northwest was beating opponents at home by close to 20 points on a biweekly basis. If anything, there was less of a reason to cheer then than there is now. The Bearcats one regular-season home game in the calendar year of 2019 that was decided by less than 15 points. They’ve already played three such games in 2020. 

 

Northwest is, once again, the No. 1 team in the country. The Bearcats have won 16 games in a row and 62 of their last 63 games. They’re on the cusp on clinching a seventh-straight MIAA title, a feat they could accomplish Feb. 20 with a win over Missouri Southern at Bearcat Arena. 

 

With a win over Southern, the Bearcats would make history, again. There should be fans there to see it. And they should cheer, too. 

 

“I hope it gets a little bit better,” Hudgins said. “We still appreciate the fans. They still come out. It’s still fun to see everyone out. But for the fans to be engaged, it would be really nice.”

 

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