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Commentary: Fans should show more support for Bluder’s Bunch

BY EVELYN LAU | FEBRUARY 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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A good crowd can make all the difference.

An impressive turnout of 7,737 attendees came out to watch the Iowa women’s basketball team take on Purdue in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday.

It was the largest crowd of the season, and it comes on the brink of the 25th anniversary of the Ohio State-Iowa women’s basketball sell-out game of 1985, in which a record 22,157 packed into Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch the contest.

Perhaps it isn’t really surprising who the Hawkeyes’ biggest supporters were during Sunday’s game — young girls. The game was promoted as “Girl Scouts Day” and allowed Girl Scouts and their troop leaders to get in for just $1. It was an ideal marketing strategy and, considering the Hawkeyes’ 70-50 crushing of the Boilermakers on Sunday, a good move.

Every time a Purdue player stepped up to the free-throw line, chants of “thin mints” could be heard echoing throughout (thanks in part to the master plan of Abby Emmert, the director of basketball operations). It was probably one of the more adorable sports moments I’ve ever been a part of and possibly the cleverest.

After all, the Boilermakers only went 10-of-24 from the charity stripe.

Who knew that little girls could be so vivacious?

“It took me out of the game, so I know it was tough for the shooters,” junior Kachine Alexander said. “I was like ‘Wait, what are they saying?’ ”

Despite the sizable turnout, it still pales in comparison to what the Iowa State women’s basketball team draws. During the Cy-Hawk game on Dec. 10, 2009, the Cyclones had an impressive 12,244 in attendance at Hilton Coliseum. And that was in bad weather.

It’s surprising that for a campus so determined to outshine its in-state rival, Iowa can fall so flat in this category. I hear excuses all the time about why people don’t want to go to a women’s game (none of which are ever justified).

But if Iowa State can bring in that many people, why can’t Iowa?

When I asked freshman Gabby Machado about playing in front of a home crowd, she spoke of how it can be reassuring to feel support.

“In high school, our games were just packed,” the Pontiac, Mich., native said. “If I see other people are cheering for us and have confidence in us, we should have confidence in ourselves.”

With Iowa’s thumping of Purdue (which upset Ohio State earlier this week), the Hawkeyes are slowly climbing up the Big Ten standings, despite losing three players for the season to injuries.

While it’s unlikely any team will catch the Buckeyes, Iowa might still have a chance to make some noise. The Hawkeyes have jumped from ninth place to seventh with a current three-game winning streak. The way the squad has overcome adversity and continues to battle is something that should be rewarded instead of ignored.

I can’t think of a better way to start than with the fans.


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