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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

GRESKA: Marquette won more than a basketball game Saturday

Andrei Greska

For the past four years I have blasted our fan base, particularly our student section, for being underwhelming. It didn’t show up unless it was a big game. It wasn’t very knowledgeable and wasn’t loud enough for my liking.

My favorite cliché was that not only was it not the best student section in the country, as the PA man at the Bradley Center boasts, it wasn’t the best student section in the state. That distinct honor belonged to our dreaded neighbors from Mad Town.

Every time I watched a Wisconsin home game on TV, I marveled at how loud it seemed and how much more unified the crowd was. Not only were the rowdy students jumping and screaming, the old-fart sweater vest crowd was up and clapping during critical junctures of the game, even in the first half.

When’s the last time you saw Marquette’s elderly fans stand and cheer to try and get a defensive stop, other than when there are less than three minutes left in the game?

It was with this mindset that I stepped foot inside the bastion of doom, better known as the Kohl Center, on Saturday afternoon to witness one of the best rivalries in college basketball. With state bragging rights for the year on the line, I figured the Badger faithful would be extra juiced and really bring it from the beginning.

That’s why I was surprised to see the lower bowl of the student section not even half filled with less than 25 minutes to go until game time.

I remember when Marquette played Wisconsin at home my freshman year. My roommate and I really wanted good seats so we left for the game an hour early. Little did I know that people had been waiting in line overnight in the bitter cold. By the time we arrived, we were relegated to the upper bowl of the Bradley Center.

On Saturday, in regards to pregame excitement level, Golden Eagle fans far surpassed Bucky’s. However, I attributed this to the rainy weather and figured things would really start popping once the game commenced.

Midway through the first half, I was in awe. Not only was the Kohl Hole not sold out — there were pockets of empty seats everywhere — the student section was littered with gold shirts.

Unofficial tallies of exactly how many students had managed to swoop into Bucky’s lair ranged from the 20s — from my boss prior to the opening tip — to the 50s prior to the start of the second half — mine. It was a beautiful sight, and my hat goes off to those who had the gall to infiltrate behind enemy lines.

As for the fans’ interaction with the game itself, I was severely underwhelmed. The crowd basically sat on its hands the entirety of the first half and 18 of 20 minutes in the second.

The myth of the Kohl Center came crashing down with 5:34 left in the first half. Preseason All-American senior guard Jordan Taylor was fouled by senior forward Jae Crowder and stepped up to the free throw line for two shots.

In the ensuing silence, a chant of “We Are Marquette” rained down on Taylor, leading him to brick his freebie. It was simply majestic.

There was a very good turnout by the Marquette faithful, numbering between 10 and 15 percent of those in attendance, according to the “who’s-wearing-gold” eye test. But it still should not have been enough to take over the stadium.

Wisconsin fans finally made some noise when their team cut the lead to one, 41-40 with 10:45 left, but as soon as Marquette retook command of the game, they were conspicuously quiet.

With about two minutes left, fans started filing out slowly but surely, leaving a half-filled arena with under a minute left. It was pathetic.

Yes, yes I know Wisconsin’s football team played later that night for the Big Ten title, but with a 50,000-student enrollment, you should have enough fans and alumni for both games. That’s not a valid excuse.

Marquette won more than a basketball game Saturday afternoon. It took back the title of Wisconsin’s best fans. Discount double check indeed.

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