On Feb. 10, the Mercer University Student Government Association sponsored a series of charter buses for Mercer students to attend the Mercer vs. Kennesaw State men’s basketball game at Kennesaw State.
They also purchased enough tickets for over a hundred students to attend. The goal was to provide the men’s basketball team with great traveling support, especially since this is the best Mercer team in nine years, as well as one of the handful of Mercer squads to win 20 games in a season.
When watching the nationally televised game available via ASun TV, CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast), and ESPN3, the Mercer fans were by far louder and more supportive of their team.
Coach Sonny Smith, one of the two announcers, said that the key to Mercer winning that game was to “take the crowd out of the game.”
Immediately following that statement, the small contingent of Mercer fans were heard over their opponents chanting “Let’s go Mercer!”
Matt Stewart was another announcer present, and he said that the Mercer and Kennesaw fans made it the best environment for a men’s basketball game in the Atlantic Sun all season.
Nevertheless, this was not the first time that Mercer has attempted to increase student attendance at basketball games.
Earlier this season, Coach Bob Hoffman sent out a campus-wide email to alert the students of free food that would be available to them at the basketball game. The email increased the overall attendance at the East Tennessee State game, one that the Bears won 54-46 off a gutsy defensive performance.
Traditionally, the men’s basketball games have far greater attendances than their female counterparts. However, despite a great start to the season, the Mercer Bears just could not consistently fill up their entire gym.
Recently, it has changed, and as each game grows more and more important, more and more students attend.
Sophomore Jake Gollon, who is averaging 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, has been impressed.
Gollon has loved the attendance, which is much higher this season. “[The fans] have been great, but I’m never satisfied. We can always improve and get everyone on the same page,” Gollon said.
At the upcoming game versus Lipscomb that will take place on Feb. 23, there have been announcements of games, giveaways and a host of things to increase attendance. Dubbed a Greek night, all members of Greek Life here at Mercer have been encouraged to attend.
The 20 wins for Mercer are phenomenal, and that game is just another piece in the chase for an A-Sun title. Coach Hoffman was humble with his team.
“The administration, the support staff and the whole university supporting us has led us to this point,” he said.
The Kennesaw game feature more than 400 students and alumni of Mercer that turned the road game into a home away from home, as the Bears have not lost against the Owls in four games at this point.
Monty Brown wants that to happen again soon. At the Lipscomb game, he wants the trend of loud and raucous Mercer fans to continue. “Let’s get everybody out to the game on Thursday,” he said.
In essence, there is a feeling that student involvement has not reached its pinnacle this season.