My mom, a Duke graduate of the late ‘70s, attended her first ever Griz-Cat rivalry game on Saturday.
I’m a broke student reporter, and an awful daughter, so she got a general admission seat. Other than needing binoculars to see the players clearly, I asked her what else was different between Missoula and her experience with the start of the glory days of Duke basketball, when there was no 3-point line and underwear-wrapped basketballs were thrown onto the court at opposing players.
During her time as a faithful attendee of Duke games, the university president asked the students to tone down the crowd antics. She remembers signs being thrown up next game that said, “Ref, we beg to differ,” instead of obscenities.
She’s not suggesting fans stoop to that level again, but she had some thoughts.
The sixth man lacked energy, she said. She was disappointed in the quietness of Dahlberg Arena.
“The crowd shouldn’t just come for the free T-shirts and go home,” my mom said.
Monte made a last-ditch effort toward the end of the game to raise the crowd noise by conducting the different sections. She thought many of the people in the crowded arena seemed like football fans in the middle of a learning curve, trying to figure out basketball.
“Get off the phone, people. You have to pay close attention. This isn’t football,” she said.
At Duke, students set up tents to be first in line for game day, and the on-floor student section surrounded the entire court. Saturday night, Griz students waited over 30 minutes and some were even turned away. The small student section at UM stayed loud, but “F.T.C.” chants on one side of the floor only carry so far. She thought it was great two students won scholarships at halftime thanks to Seth Bodnar’s half-court shot. I broke the news to her that Bodnar is actually our baby-faced president, not a student.
Maybe with binoculars, she might have seen his recent grey hairs from his short tenure weathering UM’s issues.
The Griz-Cat game packed the stadium with over 7,000 people. Whether it was the professional-looking moves of the Griz or the first-half lethargy of the Cats, the sixth man might not have felt needed because of the lead UM held for the entire game.
“The team was good,” she said. “The fans will come along.”
Maybe a better student section like Duke could help the Grizzlies’ fans “come along,” especially if they want to play a team like that in the NCAA tournament.
Invest in students — am I right?