Jayhawks impressed with Coliseum atmosphere
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 07:01
West Virginia fans, particularly the rowdy student section, have always been known for their loud and passionate cheering inside Mountaineer venues when top-tier programs come to Morgantown.
Until this point in the WVU men’s basketball season, though, only one ranked team found its way into the Coliseum.
However, this all changed Monday night when No. 1 Kansas came to town, and the Mountaineer faithful didn’t disappoint while providing one of the best atmospheres in recent years.
"That’s the loudest I’ve probably ever seen it," said West Virginia sophomore guard Juwan Staten. "I know I came as a recruit one time against Ohio State, and I saw it get pretty loud in here. But it’s just different playing. That’s the loudest I’ve seen it."
A crowd of 12,402 – the largest of the season – striped the arena with blue and gold and helped energize the Mountaineers on both ends of the floor.
Despite the fact there were more than 1,500 empty seats, the visiting Jayhawks were very impressed by the raucous commotion caused by the ones surrounding the court.
"I thought it was good. The students were great," said Kansas head coach Bill Self. "I don’t know if they get crowds like this every game, but it’s a good home court without question."
Self and his Jayhawks are quite the credible source, considering their home games are housed inside arguably college basketball’s most storied arena – Allen Fieldhouse.
"Pay heed all who enter beware of the Phog" is displayed above the tunnel where the visiting team enters the court. And visitors should approach with caution, since Allen Fieldhouse has had 191 consecutive sellouts of 16,300 screaming Kansas fans painted blue and red.
There was something in particular Self liked about the layout of the Coliseum, something that is different from the layout at Allen Fieldhouse.
"It’s neat how they get all the students down there low on one side. It’s kind of like Cameron (Indoor Stadium), at least from looking at it on TV," he said. "I thought the atmosphere was very good."
Even though West Virginia’s upset attempt fell short, it could be argued Mountaineer Nation had an impact on the game. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 16 times and missed 16 free throws.
The crowd stayed in the game despite the fact the home team fell down by as many as 15 points early in the first half.
"I enjoyed it. I’m sure everyone else on the team did. I like how the crowd is low and we get to see them and hear them," said Kansas guard Travis Releford. "It’s fun when we go to opponents’ places and get the crowd into it then take over the game."
The Coliseum was full of energy Monday night and helped provide a passionate atmosphere comparable to many of the most storied arenas in college basketball.
But can an atmosphere of this caliber be maintained on a game-to-game basis?