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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Commentary: What home court advantage?

    The Zona Zoo student section remains barren to start the second half of Sundays Arizona mens basketball game, a 74-57 win over NAU. So far this season, the Zona Zoo has seen a drastic drop in attendance in comparison to last year.
    The Zona Zoo student section remains barren to start the second half of Sunday’s Arizona men’s basketball game, a 74-57 win over NAU. So far this season, the Zona Zoo has seen a drastic drop in attendance in comparison to last year.

    It feels as if Lute Olson isn’t the only one to retire from the Arizona men’s basketball program this season.

    In what was a generally well-attended student section through the thick and thin of last season, Zona Zoo has diluted into a mediocre social gathering, at best, during this season’s first three home games.

    Not that the Wildcats have hosted top-notch opponents thus far – a contrast to last season’s big-time Virginia and Texas A&M games early on. But is it too much to expect a full lower bowl against any school?

    Sunday afternoon’s NAU game failed to draw more fans than last season’s exhibition games against Concordia and Team Georgia.

    Quietly scattered students barely comprised the lower level, giving the atmosphere in McKale Center a Rec Center feel. The lack of students gave “”old people”” a chance to swoop up mid-level seats unused by the Zona Zoo.

    Even the band appeared to show up late, as the Wildcats took the floor for their first warm-ups while the Pride of Arizona scurried to their seats.

    In comparison to last season’s home match-up with the Lumberjacks – in which the Zona Zoo could at least fill the lower level – Sunday sounded as if somebody lowered the newly-installed McKale Center curtains.

    The low student turnout wasn’t exclusive to Sunday: Last week the Wildcats hosted two prime-time home games on ESPN, leaving a national audience wondering why so many seats remained empty. Every camera angle from the baseline revealed the nakedness, as if viewers couldn’t already hear the lack of students.

    Granted, this is no national championship-contending team – at least not yet – but it’s certainly fair to use last season’s turnout as a benchmark, given the replica scenario Arizona faces from its 2007-08 campaign. Arizona brings the same head coaching status (interim basis), the same talented team and same season goals. Given the fact that Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill could pursue NBA aspirations, this season’s turnout should even exceed last year’s when the team was run by Kevin O’Neill.

    There’s not even the excuse that the Zona Zoo changed its policies once again: This year is exactly the same as last season.

    Longtime season ticket holder Phyllis Goodman also noticed the significantly lower turnout in comparison to last season’s ear-deafening crowds.

    “”I’m really disappointed that the students haven’t turned out,”” Goodman said earlier this season. The 75-year-old iconic Arizona super fan has attended games since before McKale Center’s erection in 1973. Her season tickets in section 16 gives Goodman an ideal viewpoint of the so-far barren Zona Zoo section.

    Granted, Sunday was a day when most students traveled back to Tucson from Thanksgiving break. But this talented of a team deserves more than just a few hundred lackluster students – whether they’re playing UCLA or Mansfield Middle School.

    I applaud the regular student faces that I see each and every game – they know who they are. But how about the rest of the 40,000-student campus? Is 1/40th of student attendance too much to ask?

    The coaches and players have done their jobs to begin the season 4-1.

    Now, it’s the Zona Zoo’s turn to step up.

    – Bryan Roy is a journalism sophomore.

    He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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