Men’s basketball team seeks to boost student support

The men’s basketball team added 13 meetings to its schedule this week that could have a lasting effect on the win total.

In an effort to drum up student attendance at men’s basketball games, players and coaches are attending Greek meetings asking for student support.

At a Sigma Chi chapter meeting Tuesday, head coach Neil Dougherty asked members to start making basketball games an event and said their presence could be a determining factor.

“Student body participation is key to the sport of college basketball,” Dougherty said at the meeting. “The noise, the color, the mood, the energy is generated by the student body.”

Assistant Director of Athletics Marketing John Festervand also spoke with the Sigma Chi members about possible fraternity events at basketball games.

Festervand told the men that basketball games could be used for a chapter night or a date night, whatever it takes to get them to show up in numbers to home games.

“We got this million dollar LED board,” Festervand said. “We’re playing a lot more popular music, our band has been great and I think the overall atmosphere has just gotten so much better.”

The Horned Frog basketball team sits at second place in the Mountain West Conference this season and is 10-1 at home, but small turnout at home games sill plagues the team.

Dougherty said playing on the road in the Mountain West is a difficult task with away crowds screaming, heckling and numbering in the thousands, and that makes home games even more important.

TCU is playing catch up in terms of home atmosphere and attendance, and Dougherty said the comparison right now is not even close.

“They’ve got an obvious jump on us in that category,” Dougherty said. “We’ll go to Utah this weekend and probably play in front of about 16,000-17,000 and a large part of that is going to be student body.”

At the last home game, 3,210 people attended, leaving almost 4,000 seats empty in the coliseum.

Increased turnout from students has immediate and long-term benefits for the team.

A big game atmosphere created by students has the immediate effect of being able to influence a game in the Frogs favor, Dougherty said.

Sophomore guard Keion Mitchem said the home crowd influences how players react to adversity in a game.

“Most players get hyped when they know they have a big crowd and want to play better in front of their people,” Mitchem said.

The long term or big picture benefits of increased attendance and atmosphere has to do with recruiting, Dougherty said.

“Kids want to play in gymnasiums that have a sizzle or pop to it, and they want that pop to be created by their peers,” Dougherty said.

Freshman point guard Mike Scott said TCU home games fail to reach expectations players have entering college.

“When you think about playing basketball in college, one of the biggest things you think about is the fans and all the people with TCU shirts on,” Scott said.

So far, the most packed game Scott has seen this season at TCU was against the University of Texas at Arlington, a game that might have had more UTA fans.

“I think that a lot of the people there were from UTA so it was kind of like an away game,” Scott said.

Delta Delta Delta is one of the sororities that the basketball team met with. The sorority has scheduled a “Deltas Only” event for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas game next Wednesday.

Sophomore Tri Delt president Rachel Scarbrough said the sorority is going to support the team on a more regular basis.

Sophomore Pi Kappa Phi President Matt Boaz said the fraternity is planning an event, possibly with a couple other chapters.

Dougherty, Scott and Mitchem all said they were uncertain as to why the team has not been able to draw support, but had a few ideas.

The team’s first two seasons in the Mountain West were losing efforts, especially when compared to TCU’s other major sports, Mitchem said.

Some fans just don’t know what days basketball games are at TCU, or even worse, don’t realize TCU has a basketball team.

“One girl told me she didn’t even know we had a basketball team,” Scott said.