Saturday, January 5, 2008

Saturday Jan. 5, 2008

Basketball Observations

I love looking at box scores of games played in NCAA D1. Interesting stuff besides the scoring column. Team assists, offensive rebounds, turn overs, and minutes played are very interesting statistics. But the main thing I have always look at is attendance figures.

Looking at recent box scores of similar type college programs show what happens with winning and marketing effort. I see that Marquette continues to draw well. They had 17,000 for a game against Siena of the MAAC Conference. 17,000!!!!!!! Now I know they are doing well and have been good for a number of years. But they were supported well going back to the Dick McGuire years. Why?

But before writing about why, let me give a quick Al McGuire story. Al was a heck of a recruiter who really hated being in the gym coaching practice from what I heard from a few friends including Dean the Dream Meminger, and Butch Lee, both from my old Harlem neighborhood. It seems he loved recruiting and getting the deal done. He was a working man's Rick Patino before Rick, recruiting wise. Not the glamour but results! AND HE GOT THE DEAL DONE!

Well when Al recruited Dean, Butch, Earl Tatum (Mt. Vernon), Pat Smith the 6 ft 5 Center, Rick Cobb, and others from the streets of NY, he did it with passion and understanding. But the big thing he did was use humor and charm. He charmed those kids into leaving NY for Wisconsin. And they did it with a smile. Here are two great lines from Al. He went to recruit Butch Lee in Harlem. Butch lived on 8th avenue around 150th street. Al pulled up and said he was scared to go into the building. But because he needed Butch so bad, he took a deep breath and did the safest thing he could think of. He put his wallet and watch in his sock and went and retrieved one of his most important recruits. I also remember the 6 ft 5 Center Pat Smith. Sports Illustrated did an article that said Pat could not hit a basket if the basket was the ocean. Well Al took Pat and a reporter to the nearest Lake or Ocean and had him throw a ball into the water as a rebuttal.

I gave those two stories to show the type of person it was who got Marquette on the map. I could give multiple Lou Carneseca stories as well. Both are Catholic Universities that play games off campus. St. Johns at one time packed the Garden just as Marquette packs the Bradley Center now.

But what happened to SJU? What is SJU doing to attract sell outs again. For that matter what is SHU doing to get large crowds. In fact what are SJU, SHU, and RU administrations doing to HELP The Head Coaches do a better job. Norm, Bobby, and Freddy should be involved in getting folks out to games, but it should be others doing the grunt work in that area. SJU has a new practice facility but still needs to do a few things marketing wise. After all "They Are St. Johns" (from We Are St. Johns that was popular years ago). RU needs the state and University to re-do the RAC. It's not that it is a bad arena. It 's just they need to make it more attractive with better sound and scoreboards and comfortable seating, etc. And as the many good fans on their message board keep wishing for, they need a practice facility. The RAC could stay at 9000 seats, Just improved. SHU has a great arena to play. Just needs assistance with marketing the program. I am still stunned they only had close to 7,000 for UConn after having a sell out for NC State.

Now I understand winning brings out fans. But 17,000 against Siena? What did Marquette do to average those type of numbers. Because win or lose, the bottom line is revenue. The days of just wanting a good team for the student body and alumni are over. Revenue from attendance and Alumni Contributions come in handy for the entire university. Add in concession percentages, and advertising revenue at games and the financial picture increases greatly. It is about making money. Marquette makes money. I would love to see a program have 4 great years in a row win wise with poor attendance. Yes NCAA Tournament money is nice, but 12,000 times the cost of season tickets times 16 home games is a great figure. make it 17,000 or 23,000 like at Kentucky and it is wonderful! It's also what makes an A10 program like Dayton attractive.

It is said because Marquette does not have big time football, all emphasis is on basketball. That alone explains how the resources are allocated. But they also put alot of effort into attracting fans both young and old. Not necessarily Marquette grads, just fans. ND does this well on a national level. Everyone wants to be a Marquette fan in Milwaukee Wisconsin, just as at one time all of the kids in NYC loved St. Johns.

Unfortunately many of the local teams are not going after the non attached potential fan base. Those are the everyday workers and youth who did not attend a school nor might they ever. But they could be supporters. With all the business and industry in the NY/NJ area, seats should be sold out way in advance. RU, SJU, and SHU should have seats to give out free that were purchased by large companies.

Well maybe I am just wishing too much. I really feel the tri state area will eventually get back to the days where we saw sold out college games and serious rivalries. After all the Knicks are bad and the Nets are just decent so there is room to attract the fans and their dollars. I still would love to see a RU, SJU, SHU triple Header at MSG or the PRU Center against Memphis, Duke, and UCLA next season!! Again, wishful thinking.

1 comment:

SPK145 said...

It's more than just putting fannies into the seats. It's about cultivating a real fan base. Marquette does that. They bring an incredible amount of fans whenever they play at Madison Square Garden.

A few years back (Foye, Ray, Sumpter, and Fraser's freshman year), The Gazelle Group talked to me about sponsorhip for the Coaches vs. Cancer night. I said I guess Villanova was bringing the most fans out of Villanova, Marquette, Texas, and Georgia and the sales rep laughed at me. Said Marquette BY FAR. And he was right.

I also felt that schools like SHU, RU, and SJU thought about short-term attendance results and cared little for cultivating a fan base.