What the men’s basketball team has accomplished this season is not short of spectacular. The team won its first GLIAC North Division title since 2005 and earned a share of the regular season conference title. The team also claimed the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
A record crowd of 2,443 watched as the Bulldogs and Lakers battled back-and-forth in an instant classic on Saturday. It was encouraging to see Wink Arena completely packed and loud; that’s the way all home courts in college basketball should be. The team feeds off the crowd’s energy and this can often affect the outcome of a game.
However, the Bulldogs averaged just 740 fans per game throughout the regular season. The best team in the conference and the team with a 12-1 home record ranked fourth in attendance. The team should have averaged at least 1,000 fans like Grand Valley and Findlay did.
With the GLIAC Tournament set to tip off March 2, the Bulldogs need our support now more than ever. Home-court advantage does not work if there aren’t any fans in the stands. The number of people in the stands is a reflection of our school spirit. What message does that send to opponents if we have a half-empty house for a home playoff game?
If nothing else, go to the games to watch Justin Keenan. He was picked as the preseason Division II National Player of the Year and has lived up to the expectations. Keenan leads the conference in scoring and rebounding, averaging 21.7 points and 10 boards per contest. He broke the GLIAC scoring record on Saturday, passing GVSU legend John Flynn.
This week will be the last chance to see career shot-blocking leader Lou Williams, as well as seniors Darien Gay and Matt DeHart in a Bulldog uniform.
The men’s basketball program has not been this good in six years and no one knows how long it will be until they are atop the conference again. Even if you’re not a diehard basketball fan, this is the year to jump on the bandwagon. n