OPINION: Student section adds necessary energy to Devlin Fieldhouse

Oliver Grigg, Staff Reporter

There was a special energy present during the Tulane men’s basketball (8-11, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) game Sunday, Jan. 17 in Devlin Fieldhouse, despite its 60-45 loss against No. 10 Southern Methodist (17-0, 6-0 AAC).

While a lack of school spirit has been a chronic issue for Tulane Athletics, Sunday’s student turnout at the men’s basketball game showed how much impact a boisterous crowd can have. Tulane’s student section stood on its feet, broke into chants and provided the Green Wave with much-needed fan support.

It was clear that the Wave fed off the crowd’s energy throughout the game. Despite shooting 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, Tulane’s inspired and aggressive defense caused SMU to endure a nine-minute scoring drought to keep the game close. The Wave entered half time trailing 23-19 to the only undefeated team in the country.

“I thought we played extremely hard and we were really [impressive] on the defensive end,” head coach Ed Conroy said. “[We] were committed to playing hard on the defensive end today.”

SMU’s head coach Larry Brown credited Tulane’s impassioned play to this energy.

“The score is no indication of what kind of game we were in,” Brown said. “[Tulane] did a great job of kind of getting us out of sync. Until about the last seven or eight minutes [of the second half], [Tulane] dictated the way the game was being played. They did an amazing job.”

Tulane, which undoubtedly delivered its best defensive effort against a stronger opponent this season, took a 30-27 lead with just over 14 minutes remaining in the second half and a buzz could be felt through the arena. The buzz bubbled over into euphoria after freshman guard Melvin Frazier’s electrifying alley-oop off of redshirt junior guard Malik Morgan’s pass with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

“I thought [Frazier] gave [Tulane] unbelievable energy,” Brown said. “They have a heck of a future looking at the young kids they have.” 

There was even a back-and-forth chant war between Tulane’s student section and SMU’s contingent of fans. SMU fans chanted “Un-de-feat-ed,” while Tulane fans responded with “On Pro-ba-tion,” in reference to the program’s multiple violations, including academic fraud and unethical conduct, which excludes it from the 2016 postseason.

Credit must be given to not only students for providing spirit Sunday afternoon while the National Football League playoffs were ongoing, but also to Tulane Athletics. The athletic department did an excellent job building excitement for the game throughout the week and it culminated in a remarkable outpouring of fan spirit. 

The Green Wave’s energized response to the support is a sign of the young team’s budding potential. Another strong student turnout appeared when the Wave played South Florida 7 p.m. Wednesday at Devlin Fieldhouse. Unfortunately, the Wave still lost 73-60 to South Florida.

While Tulane’s men’s basketball program is young and has unimpressive statistics on paper, its performance Sunday shows just how good the team can be when energized by the crowd on its home court.

 

This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.