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This should be a record-setting year for basketball attendance

Red Raider faithful need to pack the United Sprit Arena this season

Here at VTM, we focus on assessing, critiquing, and sometimes predicting performances of the players and coaches that represent our favorite university. Today, that spotlight won’t be shining on the likes of Chris Beard, Keenan Evans, or Zach Smith. I’m going to place it on us—the fans. To be frank, we haven’t made the grade. This is not a disrespectful shot at anyone, and I understand life happens to all of us and not everyone can make the games. This is for those who claim to bleed red and black, but are chilling at home watching Netflix when the Red Raiders tip off.

It has been a few months since the NCAA released the attendance numbers from last season, but, with the season opener against South Alabama drawing only 8,865 people, it’s time to discuss the less than desirable performance by the Red Raider faithful. For everyone’s sake, I’ve compiled all the Big 12 schools together below.

Big 12 Hoops Attendance 2017

School National rank Average Stadium capacity Average % of capacity Conference rank by capacity %
School National rank Average Stadium capacity Average % of capacity Conference rank by capacity %
Kansas 8 16,395 16,300 101% 1
Iowa State 16 14,275 14,384 99% 2
Kansas State 29 11,381 12,528 91% 3
West Virginia 31 11,374 14,000 81% 5
Texas 36 10,490 16,540 63% 8
Oklahoma 48 9,296 11,562 80% 6
Texas Tech 49 9,026 15,098 60% 10
Oklahoma State 56 8,436 13,611 62% 9
Baylor 79 6,811 10,284 66% 7
Texas Christian 87 6,126 6,700 91% 4

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “7th in the Big 12 in attendance isn’t that bad. We did finish 7th in the conference in the standings, after all.” That argument loses muster when you realize two of the three teams, Oklahoma and Texas, to finish behind Texas Tech in the standings had better attendance numbers. To put this point into even more perspective, the third team in that group, TCU, doesn’t even have the stadium capacity to meet Tech’s average attendance. It’s simply not a good look.

Going into last season, Tech was coming off it’s first NCAA tournament birth since the days of Bob Knight. Sure, Tubby Smith left for Memphis, but we brought in well respected Chris Beard who had just taken Arkansas-Little Rock into the second round of the NCAA tournament himself. There was plenty to be excited about. And I will give credit to Red Raider nation where it’s due. Average attendance not only increased last season, it increased the season before as well.

Increase in attendance by season

Season Average Diff from prev season
Season Average Diff from prev season
2015 6,622 --
2016 8,284 1,662
2017 9,026 742

I think it’s fair game at this point to pat ourselves on the back for recognizing the improvements that have been made to the Tech basketball program over the last several seasons. However, I am not satisfied, and I don’t think you should be either.

Look back to those average percentage of stadium capacity numbers. Texas Tech is dead last at 60%. Historically, that’s right where attendance numbers have resided. Now is the time to change that. There is clearly room for attendance to grow, 40% worth of room to be exact. It’s on the fans, especially the students, to make Lubbock a true home court advantage. The benefits gained from having a raucous home crowd are well documented, and Tech fans have shown an ability to create those kind of atmospheres for games against “big time” opponents. The next step is for the fan base to bring that kind of energy for ALL games.

Knowing how hard it is to win games on the road in the Big 12, it becomes even more imperative that we protect our house in conference play. Texas Tech did this effectively last year, sporting a 6-3 record. That was actually the fifth best record at home for all Big 12 teams. Imagine what this year’s squad can do at home if the fans turn it up a notch.

And why shouldn’t we turn it up? I don’t know if I’d go as far as my colleague in stating that this could be the greatest Tech team ever. There have been some good teams that have rolled through Lubbock. But, this season is primed to be a special one: lots of returning starters, lots of fresh talent mixed in, plenty of senior leadership in both front and backcourts, and a tough conference that will prepare this team to face anything they’ll see in the NCAA tournament. If you can’t get hyped for this team, then maybe basketball just isn’t your sport.

As a collective, Red Raider nation needs to acknowledge that we have not done all we can for our basketball team. The good news? The remedy is an easy one. SHOW UP!