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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ZonaZoo: What it means for the team

Fans+in+ZonaZoo+cheer+on+the+Arizona+mens+basketball+team+during+the+McDonalds+Red-Blue+game+on+Oct.+20+in+McKale+Center.
Heather Newberry
Fans in ZonaZoo cheer on the Arizona men’s basketball team during the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

If there’s one thing we know for sure amid all the uncertainty coming into the 2017–2018 season, it’s that McKale Center will be loud. In large part, that’s thanks to the University of Arizona’s incessant, deafening section that sits behind the hoop on the left side of the court, the ZonaZoo.

With a membership of 12,000 to support, the student section has made McKale Center a living nightmare for visiting teams, and the court has the track record to show for it.

In 2015 the Wildcats had the longest home winning streak in the nation, 52 games won by an average margin of 22 points, all on the floor in McKale Center. The streak ended Feb. 7 in a disappointing 75-83 loss against Oregon.

Since then, however, the Wildcats have won all but one of their games in McKale Center, beating 24 out of 25 opponents they’ve faced since Oregon in 2015. They’ve even brought the house to away games, supposedly outnumbering fans at other stadiums during the regular season around the Pac-12. Last season, after winning in Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, promptly named ‘McKale North,’ Allonzo Trier commented on the mobile ZonaZoo.

“It’s a great boost for us,” Trier said. “We’re very appreciative of our fan base, how much they support us and the energy they bring us.”

Arizona fans showed up in four figures at every away game last season save three — Washington State, Oregon State and Hawaii.

The players both on the home and away sidelines undoubtedly respond to the energy that the ZonaZoo brings. Most notably last year, ASU player Torian Graham flashed a double middle finger at the student section and was met with a positive response from the crowd.

Allegations of racial slurs were delivered by Graham, but after an internal investigation by the UA, evidence of such slurs were not found.

The Wildcats went on to win the game 91-75 and departed the Sun Devils, with a “Bye Bye Bobby” chant in unison.

“The biggest thing the ZonaZoo provides is energy. The student section gives us that spark, that extra step for us to play better at home,” David Bagga, a walk-on from the 2013 squad, said. “The ZonaZoo is as loud or louder than any other school’s student section where we played.”

McKale Center has reached higher average home attendance than any other stadium in the Pac 12, in thanks largely to the unwavering support of the ZonaZoo. Students often camp out nights in advance to secure tickets during the regular season, showing immense dedication in backing the basketball squad.

Next season brings a lot of extraneous variables into the mix, with injuries and investigations, but the ravenous ZonaZoo will still be there for UA basketball, no matter what happens.


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