The Center: Taking in a basketball game at McKaleby Scott Terrell on Feb. 12, 2010, under Sports
I don’t get to go to a lot of UA basketball games. The equivalent of a Red Zone football ticket doesn’t get you very far with Wildcat hoops. If you’re like me a trip to the McKale Center is a special treat so you want to make the most of it. Here are a few suggestions for the next time you’re able to visit Lute & Bobbi Olson Court.
Work a connection. If you know someone who can give you great seats you’re set. But the next best thing is getting tickets anywhere in the building and then knowing where some higher-end empty seats will be. A friend of a friend had a friend with whom he shared season tickets. This friend told my friend that his friend would most likely not use his tickets for the 8:30 game against Oregon so we could just cruise down there and fill them. Well, not only did friend³ show up but he was early. Back to the triple-digit sections with ye!
Check out the banners. Look at the national championship and Final Fours. Admire the three banners needed to hold all the Sweet Sixteen appearances. Then ask yourself: Why don’t we count 1951 among our Sweet Sixteens? Yeah, there were only 16 teams in the tournament and we lost in the first round, but the final 16 is the final 16. You think Kentucky is embarrassed it won the national championship that year? Never forget ’51!
Get to your seat early. When the house lights go down the scoreboard blasts the intro video which is an excellent mix of highlights from the classic Arizona teams as well as this year’s squad. Besides, if you try to walk in the dark you might spill your popcorn.
Stand. Everyone in the building gets up at the start of each half until the visiting team makes a basket. And, no, free throws don’t count.
Yell, “Nice shot, buddy!” My night isn’t complete until the opposition misses the first of two free throws. The band has a back-up chant ready in case the first free throw goes in. It references an ‘80s hair band, which is never a bad thing.
Know when to shut up. Nobody – and I mean nobody – gets quieter for free throws than the McKale crowd.
Get hungry. Tacos aren’t just for football any more. If the home team hits 70 you get free Jack-in-the-Box…if you dare.
This particular game wasn’t an instant classic. It wasn’t a game of incredible individual performances (only one player scored more than 11 points for either team). For the Cats it was a game of balance. We gave up 28 points in the first half and 29 in the second half. Nine players played more than ten minutes and seven players played more than 20 minutes. Seven players had between three and six rebounds. Five players had at least two assists. Kyle Fogg had almost as many assists (8) as missed shots (0-for-9). It was a satisfying workman-like performance for the guys in the white.
Oh, I forgot the most important part of taking in a game at McKale:
Cheer for the Wildcats. Life is better when the home team wins.