COLUMN: The Eagles are here, where are you?
Remember the days of Earl Boykins and Derrick Dial?
As a kid in the late 1990’s, I do.
You can make the argument head coach Rob Murphy and the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team have brought some of the nostalgia back with its 11-8 record this season.
Also, the Eagles started the season at 5-0— its best start since the 1996-97 campaign when Boykins and Dial were winning games at Bowen Field House.
*EMU ranks 16th in Division I in blocked shots per game with 6.29, but yet one problem still exists and does not involve the final score.
The larger issue is the 1,000-pound elephant in the room everyone continues to ignore year in and year out— lack of attendance.
Sure, the Convocation Center is technically off-campus, but it provides the best value for your dollar as students can get in the game for free and on-campus residents don’t even have to leave campus as Trinity Transportation provides a shuttle for every home contest.
There are possible solutions to get more students and fans to show up to the games.
Maybe have Murphy and even other coaches use social media more often to let students know about not only basketball, but home games from other sports.
It would be a good step in building a “TRUEMU” community.
Also, Murphy and the other coaches on staff could hand out flyers and hold student section practices to help connect fans and students to the program.
Those little things could be the difference between having an average attendance of 992 this season and bringing in hundreds, possibly thousands of additional fans.
Last Saturday, after covering EMU’s road game against Central Michigan University, I happened to walk into coach Keno Davis’s press conference and the thing that stood out was his disappointment of a small turnout (2,428) at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant.
2,428 is nearly half of the 5,300-seat capacity and in comparison, the Convocation Center’s largest attended game was the regular-season home opener on Nov. 8, 2013 against Albion, where a season-high 2,677 fans attended out of a possible 8.824.
Attendance At EMU Men’s Home Basketball Games This Season:
Albion College: 2677
Concordia University: 506
Robert Morris University: 793
Cleveland State University: 825
The University of Texas-Arlington: 810
No. 21 University of Massachusetts: 1314
Green Bay: 583
Rochester College: 429
Western Michigan University: 1049
The University of Akron: 609
Ohio University: 1321
At the postgame press conference against Akron last Wednesday, Murphy addressed the attendance issues at EMU men’s basketball games.
“You always want more fans,” Murphy said. “I don’t look at the crowd and the numbers. If it’s empty or full, you have to play the game no matter who is in the stands.”
In all fairness, Murphy should be commended for putting together “Rock The Rec” at the Rec/IM on campus as a way of trying to bring more students and fans to the games and visiting Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor earlier this month.
Ultimately, he can only do so much and students have as much responsibility to show up to support the team.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.
- As of Jan. 25, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.