This past Saturday, I covered the Southern Miss-Marshall men’s basketball game, and I would easily say that it was the most electric crowd Reed Green has seen since I first stepped on campus back in the fall of 2016.
The Golden Eagles unforeseeably sent a very respectable team, defending C-USA champions Marshall, out of Reed Green with their tails between their legs with a 101-51 win in front of a crowd of 3,300 people.
Unfortunately, the one thing that was lacking were students in the student section. There were roughly a few dozen students who made it out to the game and actually sat in the student section, which was kind of disappointing.
As great as the support was from local die-hard fans, it is easily a missing commodity and also hurts the basketball team. Home games are supposed to give the team an edge and create a hostile environment for opposing teams but Reed Green has lacked that in recent years and was certainly missed.
On Saturday night, there was baby racing at halftime which I have to say was very exciting to watch. There are always giveaways and contests throughout home games, which are administered by the athletic department’s marketing staff. The music playlist is always killer, but there is always one thing missing—student participation.
In case you don’t know where the student section is, it is the two sections right by the band and to be more specific, it is located in sections R and S.
I’m pretty sure people have watched the nationally televised games and have seen some pretty awesome student sections across the country and have just admired the enthusiasm. Well, that could easily be Southern Miss, and having some type of environment could have been the difference in several losses the Golden Eagles have had this year, most recently the 63-60 home loss against Western Kentucky.
“People don’t understand home court advantage in college basketball is much bigger than football and it’s eight or nine points,” Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler said after Saturday’s win. “It’s big. Some teams are so good that they don’t need it; well, we’re not that team. We need all the help we can get.”
Here are a couple of solutions that I suggest to fix the problem:
The Student Government Association and other campus organizations need to be utilizing the events and bring the student body together. Just trying to chip in and make students aware of games would be all the difference in the world. At the very least students who are highly involved on campus should be at these games regularly. Lastly, if you are a student that does not sit in the student section, I highly suggest making plans for your new seating location in the student section.
My second solution is that all the athletic coaches should follow the Larry Fedora standard. Back in the days of head football coach Larry Fedora, the entire football team was required to attend basketball and other games on campus. It’s an environment that has slowly deteriorated and at the very least would be refreshing to see fellow coaches support each other, which builds up the Southern Miss environment.
The best part for students is that the games are FREE. Yes, you read that right, so why not go? It is easily an experience all Southern Miss students are missing out on and all it takes is for us the students to build it.
Doc Sadler said it best.
“You get to choose. Do you want a basketball team or do you want a basketball program,” Sadler said. “If you want a basketball program it takes everything. It takes the dance team, it takes the cheerleaders, it takes the band, it takes the fans, it takes everybody. It’s not just us. For us to get it back to where you want to compete for championship games, it’s got to be a home court.”