It was a rare sight to see at Wink Arena on Saturday. The stands were filled with excited fans, you could barely hear the person next to you, the fans groaned with every questionable call and we even got to hear a bull**** chant.
While you never want to promote chanting profanity, I can say that Saturday’s regular-season finale against Grand Valley is definitely the closest I’ve ever seen a Ferris sporting event come to feeling like a big-time Division I game.
You see it every Saturday on TV with Big Ten and Big East basketball. Fans are painted up with their team’s colors, students wait outside for days to get in line for tickets and students rush the court after a monumental victory.
For the first time in a while, you got the feeling walking into Wink Arena on Saturday that you were walking into an electric environment.
Covering the team throughout the season, there was many a game where you noticed empty stands and that the student section consisted of about 20 people. Although the team started slow out of the gates at 3-2, Ferris reeled off 12 straight wins starting at the midway point of the season and Saturday’s loss was the only home loss for Ferris the entire season.
Now think about that, despite the lack of fan attendance and a crowd presence, the Bulldogs still took down opponent after opponent in a sport where teams often rely on a rabid student section to help get the opponent off their game.
So as a record-setting crowd was on hand to see an instant overtime classic, it was nice to see that people are coming around and realizing that this can be a special postseason run for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs battled and took down some of the top teams in the GLIAC during the regular season, and I think you can look to the “131 Showdown” as the game that really got people to realize that this year’s Bulldog team had the chance to be special.
Now, the Ferris-Grand Valley rivalry usually produces a decent crowd regardless of the success of the teams, but to have the top seed in the GLIAC Tournament on the line and to have a chance to sweep a rival at stake, the fans stepped up and provided the type of environment that was desperately missing in the earlier part of the season.
But you could noticeably see the fan support pick up after the first meeting between the two rivals and as the season drew down, fans starting to come out more and more to see a team with some stellar seniors on board, culminating four years of battling together to get to where they are now.
This season was a year of monumental accomplishments for the team. The program notched its 1,000th win, Justin Keenan became the all-time scoring leader in the GLIAC, and Lou Williams became the record holder for most blocks in Ferris history.
It’s very rare to be witness to even one record-setting performance on one team in a college basketball season, but to see multiple records broken in one year is something that is special.
So as the Bulldogs head into postseason play and they host games at Wink, continue to support a team that has a chance to do something special. Otherwise you might miss out on the chance to be part of one of the more memorable seasons at Ferris in recent memory. n