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Notice men’s basketball

Observer Editorial Board | Friday, February 22, 2013

If the Notre Dame men’s basketball team defeats Cincinnati at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday, it will mark the fourth straight season in which the Irish have earned 10 wins in the Big East – a remarkable feat considering the conference has consistently stood atop college basketball during the past decade.
It’s a shame so many students have failed to notice.
Irish coach Mike Brey’s squad – which recently clinched its seventh consecutive 20-win season, the first time that feat has been accomplished in program history – has consistently competed among the conference’s elite during his 13 seasons at the helm. But with Brey set to accomplish a personal milestone – four consecutive NCAA tournament berths for the first time in his coaching career – the student body has been mostly apathetic.
Unless a marquee program like Kentucky, Syracuse or Louisville is in town, the student section of Purcell Pavilion is mostly a ghost town. Even the enticement of ESPN’s “College GameDay” coming to campus could not attract a large student crowd, and the network’s strategic camera angles could not hide the fact that the vast majority of seats were empty. The electric atmosphere of that evening’s five-overtime thriller against Louisville carried little weight four days later when DePaul and Notre Dame played another overtime.
For a program that is consistently among the best in what is typically the nation’s best conference, the lack of support makes little sense. College basketball games are only two hours (with the exception of five-overtime tilts), which is the perfect amount of time for a midweek study break or a weekend activity.
Even the price is affordable. When members of the Class of 2013 were freshmen, a student ticket booklet cost $100. This season, one could be purchased for $65. If you just attended the seven Big East games and the November matchup against Kentucky and chose not to attend the other non-conference games, it only cost a sliver more than $8 per game – affordable for even a college student.
Sure, Notre Dame might not offer the best ticket policy and could offer some flexibility to students akin to other universities. Many students want to see Kentucky, Syracuse or Louisville, but they don’t want to pay for games against Evansville and Monmouth in the process. It’s not only the early non-conference attendance that suffers (that’s somewhat to be expected because of the lack of many marquee matchups), but also the student attendance against quality programs like Villanova, Georgetown and Cincinnati – matchups that students should want to see.
Selection Sunday is three weeks from Sunday, and the Irish are on the brink of clinching yet another bid into the field of 68 teams. Only two home games remain (Cincinnati and March 5 against St. John’s), and Brey would no doubt welcome a gaggle of newcomers on the Notre Dame bandwagon as Jack Cooley and Scott Martin, who’s currently sidelined with an injury, close out their Irish careers.
There’s no doubt Notre Dame’s a football school, but the quality teams Brey continues to develop are worthy of more of a showing from the student body. See if you can snag a last-minute ticket or find a friend with season tickets who might have lost interest. Use it as a midterm study break or as some time you set aside to enjoy yourself for the week.
But take the time to notice before the end of another entertaining season has passed.