Hey, SEC schools: this may come as a surprise to you, but Kentucky wants you to be better at basketball. Quite frankly, Kentucky needs you to be better at basketball. It gets rather tiring to be in the conference described every year as being “down in basketball.” Even when some teams break through to the Top 25, one has only to watch their home games to realize they are really just a football school that accidentally had a decent year in hoops, too.
Never fear, our SEC brethren. We’re here to help you achieve “basketball school” status, or at least make you appear to be one. Toward that end, I present to you my work in progress:
First things first: fill your arenas for games other than when you’re hosting Kentucky. Try using the free t-shirt budget against other teams. Seriously. Those free shirts seem to bring the crowd in, and since you’ll fill the seats anyway when the Cats come to town, save the shirts for a tougher draw. We’ve seen all the White Outs, Black Outs, Red Outs, spirit towels, and every other gimmick. None has proven to be effective for your team to beat the Cats.
Next, why not support your Athletic Directors? It’s obvious that several schools are at least trying to improve the quality of their hoops programs. Proof can be found in some of the more recent additions to the coaching ranks (Rick Barnes, Bruce Pearl and Avery Johnson). They’re working hard for the fans, so why not reward them by filling the seats?
For the coaches, it’s great that some of you are getting some elite recruits. Now, take the next logical step and learn how to coach that talent. I know you probably don’t want to admit your shortcomings in this area, so I recommend reading Coach Cal’s book, Success is the Only Option. Your recruits will thank you. (I wouldn’t dare call out LSU’s Johnny Jones, but…well, maybe I would.)
Cheering Tips From the Pros
While your teams are striving to get better, it is vital for the fans to get better as well. This includes knowing how to cheer appropriately at the games. Now, I realize basketball can be difficult to understand for those of you from traditional “football schools.” For instance, you’re accustomed to increasing the volume of your cheering when your team is on defense. This is not how it works in basketball. Go crazy when your guys are on offense, but when your opponent has the ball, give your team a chance to communicate with one another on defense. They’ll thank you.
Nothing says “amateur” like giving out chant sheets. Research your upcoming opponent for ideas on clever cheers. (TIP: jeering at a big man for not having shot 3’s this season is not clever, nor appropriate). Watch a variety of games on tv and get ideas from their students. “Airball,” “left, right, left, right” and “you, you, you, you, you,” are stale and boring, but they are appropriate and easy to learn. Start small if you must, and then build on that.
About This “Overrated” Cheer
Perhaps the silliest thing in college sports, other than storming the court (and we’ll get to that in a minute), is the ridiculous “overrated” cheer. Really, let’s examine this more thoroughly.
Let’s say the #1 ranked team in the country comes to your arena for a game. Now, let’s say your team is unranked. But, you’ve done the unthinkable; your team has played the game of their lives, while the #1 team struggles and ultimately loses the game. Why on earth would you want to devalue your team’s performance by cheering “overrated” at the #1 team? Wouldn’t it be far more clever (and correct) to cheer for your team by saying “underrated?”
Now, let’s say you totally don’t understand the logic I just laid out for you and you opt to cheer “underrated” anyway. The only correct time to use this cheer would be after you have actually won the game. If you want to ensure that the SEC is never viewed as a strong conference for basketball, follow the lead of Vandy and Mississippi State who both had fans cheering “overrated” at Kentucky while their teams were trailing (and both ultimately lost, by the way). Please tell me you realize now how stupid that was. Please. I need to shore up my waning faith in humanity.
This is nearly as ridiculous as the aforementioned “overrated” chant. Again, it devalues your team’s victory. You are saying “we expected to lose, but somehow we managed to pull off the miracle and win!”) Let’s be clear on a few things: don’t tell me it’s not dangerous (it is), and don’t try to convince me it lets the fans be part of the game (it doesn’t). People can, and have been seriously injured as a result of these storms. And you’re not going to be a part of any game unless you are suited up in a uniform and have managed to be a member of the team.
Obviously, the primary reason for court storming is because the television cameras will be recording the event, and fans hope to get their mugs on the small screen for 10 seconds. There can be no other explanation for a higher-ranked team’s fans storming the court after having beaten a lower-ranked team. I mean, really?
Clearly, court storming is out of control. When you have “blue blood” programs (looking at you, Indiana and UNC) storm the court, you know this practice has gone too far. Just stop it. For the love of all that is good in this world, never storm another court.
So there you have it, SEC; some helpful tips on getting your basketball program a few rungs higher on the elite ladder. Here’s hoping we see more of you in the Top 25 soon!
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