Attendance at home men’s basketball games has been incredibly low – averaging just less than 5,000 people in the six games held so far at the WVU Coliseum this season.
Part of the reason is the lack of competition WVU faces at home, with an average margin of victory of more than 26 points. West Virginia defeated Loyola last week 96-47.
“We have great fans – there’s just 4,000 of them,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “Some teams have 16,000, we have 4,000. I’m happy with the people who (come). I keep hearing this team is exciting, but it must not be exciting enough. There’s a lot of factors, I’m sure.”
While 50-point blowout victories are certainly encouraging, it’s difficult to gauge the talent of this team with a weak non-conference schedule at home.
That should change tomorrow night when No. 19 Gonzaga comes to Morgantown for a 9 p.m. tip-off.
West Virginia is 0-2 all- time against the Bulldogs, with both losses coming in blowout fashion.
It’s the first ranked opponent to come to Morgantown this season, and the first since Feb. 13 against Oklahoma State.
“(I’m) excited the response for a big crowd Tuesday night,” Huggins tweeted. “(The fans) need to play a huge part in helping us win.”
Given the weak turnout at the Coliseum so far, fans haven’t been able to see just how improved this team is from last year.
At 6-3, West Virginia is seeing improved play from guards Eron Harris and Juwan Staten.
Harris trails only Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart for most points per game in the Big 12 Conference (18.9), while Staten averages just more than 16 per contest.
West Virginia is also immensely better from the 3-point line this season, with forward Remi Dibo shooting 45 percent from downtown. As a team, WVU leads the conference at 44 percent.
“It’s a lot more fun when they actually sit down and listen,” Huggins said. “When they (ignore) you, that’s not a lot of fun. These guys have been great. They listen, they’re trying to learn, they ask intelligent questions. You go from guys who ask questions just so they can get a break to guys who ask questions because they actually want to know (the answers).”
The Mountaineers will play Purdue at home Dec. 22 before playing their remaining home games against conference opponents.
“We’re getting ready to play more competitive teams,” Huggins said.