If You Continue To Build It, They Will Come Back

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A couple of years ago, I began a blog entry with the following sentences:


One thing you will never, ever hear me do is criticize attendance.


You have to pay for tickets - I don't.


You have to pay for parking - I don't.


Shoot, those of us lucky enough to have a press pass get a free pre-game meal for gosh-sakes.


For that reason, I don't think I have the right to tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned money. In fact, the next time you hear a media member complain about empty seats, ask them if THEY would have forked over cash to be there.


My feelings on the subject haven't changed, but I would obviously love to see Fifth Third Arena packed again.


Tuesday's season-high crowd of 7,795 for the 76-60 win over DePaul was an encouraging sign.  It included a walk-up sale of roughly 1,100 tickets which was the largest in recent memory according to UC ticket manager Meagan Kantor.


The Crosstown Shootout is already sold out, and the West Virginia and Georgetown games are near-sellouts. 


I have always believed that when the Bearcats started winning big again, fans would return and it appears that you are proving me right.


Last week on his radio show, Mick Cronin was asked about UC's marketing efforts for basketball and the attendance to date, and I thought his answer was very revealing:


"My job to market our team is pretty simple:  Win games," Cronin said.  "If you win games, it markets itself.  When you're in my position you try to focus on the positive.  I'd like to be the coach at Cincinnati for 20 years - not 25, just 20 - but I would also like sellouts because that would help recruiting.  Consistent winning helps sell tickets, but what helps you win consistently?  When you tell recruits that you play to sold-out arenas.  People say, 'If you win we'll come.'  Well, don't support Mick Cronin - support the program.  Certain programs are what they are regardless of coach.  Regardless of whether Dean Smith or Adolph Rupp retired, or Bob Knight got fired, certain programs are what they are because of the fans.  That being said, my job is to do everything that I can do to get people back in the building by putting a great product on the floor.  But you have to build it.  I try to look at the positive and my job is to get it done because this is where I want to be."


One thing is certain; there isn't a better value in the Big East than Cincinnati $100 4-game "Represent The C" Mini Plan.  The original plan included the Xavier game.  Since that game is sold out, you can now get tickets to the West Virginia, Louisville, UConn, and Georgetown games for only $100.  As I mentioned earlier, tickets for WVU and Georgetown are getting tight, so act quickly if you would like to take advantage of the $100 bargain.


To order tickets, go to catstix.com (where they have a print at home option), or call 1-877-CATS-TIX or 513-556-CATS. 


* * * * *


I don't know if you caught the post-game show after the Bearcats win over DePaul, but I thought Coach Cronin sounded "Huggins-esque".


His team is 13-0 and had just won its Big East opener by 16 points, but after getting outscored 39-36 in the second half, Mick was not singing his players' praises.


"I'll be honest - I'm not happy," Mick told me.  "I'm happy with the crowd and I'm happy with our first half effort but from there on, I thought we shut it down.  We should have been attacking their press.  To have only 13 assists against a pressing team is not enough - that's a really poor stat.  And to give up 21 offensive rebounds is completely unacceptable.  We got exposed on the interior tonight and it's something that we have to work on.  They took it to us on the interior in the second half. 


"It's good to be a point where you're unhappy with a double digit victory.  But I have a higher opinion of our team than most other people."


Mick did give a rave review to Larry Davis, who followed up his 18-point effort against St. Francis by scoring a season-high 20 points against DePaul.  In those two games, the senior guard drilled 8-of-13 shots from outside the arc to lift his season total to 16-for-33 (48%).  That's literally twice as good as last year when Larry shot 24% from 3-point range.


"Larry has been on a great run, but that's what happens when a guy has the right attitude," Coach Cronin said.  "He's worked really, really hard with the assistant coaches on getting some arc on his shot, and shooting with balance.  He had a tendency to fall back and his feet would go forward.  When we were struggling to score early, he pushed the lead to double digits by making some big shots for us."


Davis is not the only Bearcat who has made a quantum leap in 3-point shooting percentage since last season:


Dion Dixon - 22% to 39%

Cashmere Wright - 26% to 42%

Rashad Bishop - 32% to 40% (despite missing his last 11 attempts).


But as the Bearcats prepare for Friday's game against Seton Hall, Coach Cronin is more concerned with mindset than marksmanship.


"Our mental state is the key to this team," Mick said.  "It's not talent - it's intangibles and toughness.  Rebounding that basketball in traffic when people are jumping on your back and no whistles are blowing - somebody in a Cincinnati jersey has to come out of there with the basketball.  And intangibles like being unselfish and not caring who gets the credit.  You worry as a coach about getting to 13-0 and guys start worrying about how many points they're scoring.  I can't let that infiltrate our locker room.  That's a big key for us."      


I'd love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard


Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad proudly displaying the light sabers that were on his Christmas list.


Sam with light sabers.jpg 



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Love reading your work Dan. I hate fickle fans, but I only have so much spendable income and football gets my money. Its been hard caring after Huggs. Good point about supporting the program not just the team.

I have had season tickets for the last 18 years. I have enjoyed most of the BB I have seen over that time. I am enjoying this team this year because of how hard they play. I agree with you people should start attending games. It is a great value for the money. Much better than watching the Benagals play. These kids always play hard and hopefully soon will be playing before sold out crowds.