Commentary follow-up

This is a follow-up story to my last piece about fan support on this campus. The 2,178 fans that packed the Ramsey Center on February 10, 2007, were treated to probably the biggest Catamount basketball game in over 10 years. With first place on the line in the game between Western and UT-Chattanooga, there was a sense of energy that has rarely been experienced at the RAC in my four years at Western. Not only was first place on the line, it was National Girls’ and Women’s Sports Day at the RAC, which was probably the reason that most of the fans were female. Every female that even set foot in the Ramsey Center got in for free. Before the game, Meredith LeCroy, director of marketing and promotions for the athletic department was going through the stands, giving out little purple pom-poms that said “Beat App” on them (which I found funny, but it was a great idea), with a coupon for free cherry limeades’ at Sonic. The best part about them was that they were free. The game was pretty much a see-saw battle for the first few minutes before Western took the lead for good.The halftime show was even worth watching as kids from local Jackson County youth basketball leagues got a chance to play a friendly exhibition on the Ramsey Center floor. While I was sitting in the stands with a few lady friends, I could not help but think back to being that age playing basketball. It was the best kind of basketball because there was no pressure; I just went out there and had fun. The ladies just sat there and thought how cute the kids were.During the second half of the game, Western dominated and had the lead up to almost as many as 16 points before Coach Kellie Harper did something that is very common of a favorite coach of mine from the ACC, Mike Krzyzewski. She took out her starters with about four minutes left to go in the game and put in the second string, even though they could’ve easily hit 80 points. She also called for a stall method, basically holding the ball and not putting a shot up until it is absolutely necessary. The players went through with this method, even experiencing a 30-second shot clock violation before winning the game by nine. For this display of class by Coach Harper, I commend her for it.The men’s game may not have had the same amount of implications as the women’s game had, but nevertheless, the biggest crowd this season came out for the game between Western Carolina and Georgia Southern. A crowd of 4,217 fans showed for the first annual Canton-Clyde day at the RAC, as any fan who lived in either Canton or Clyde could go to a local business and get a free ticket to the game.Most of the fans, I believe, were there to see one person play: freshman post man Jake Robinson, a Canton native and former Pisgah High School basketball player. Robinson did not disappoint the fans who have probably watched him play every game since he was in grade school. Despite just scoring 10 points in the game, the two 3-pointers he hit got the crowd into an uproar that I have not heard since Kevin Martin played ball at Western.The halftime show involved the jump ropers from Cherokee showing off their skills on the floor of the RAC, and once again it took the college students back in that time machine to when they were that age. These kids were doing things that I could only dream of. The game saw Coach Larry Hunter and the entire coaching staff wearing some rather different footwear with their business suits. This weekend was declared Coaches vs. Cancer Awareness Weekend; the coaches wear white tennis shoes with their suit and tie to promote awareness for Cancer research, which I commend, as well. The men won easily and by popular demand; Coach Hunter put in rarely used substitute Josh Dees, much to the delight of his own fan club, Dees Bees.Overall, a great day of basketball that saw the Catamount basketball team pick up their tenth win of the season and put them up to the .500 mark in the Southern Conference (7-7). The Lady Catamounts took sole possession of first place in SoCon and are now in the driver’s seat. With the Conference tournament at the beginning of next month, and if they can keep this up, they could get an at-large bid for either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) next month.To the fans who came out to support the basketball teams, they definitely got their money’s worth, even though most of them did not have to pay to go the game. To those who decided to go home this weekend, you all missed out on a lot of excellent entertainment, including free promotions, great halftime shows and a couple of important Southern Conference basketball games. Think about that!