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Fans flood JACC to cheer basketball wins

Emma Driscoll | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fans have been packing the Joyce Center all season and have helped the men’s basketball team tally a 36-game home winning streak – the second longest streak in the nation.

Josh Berlo, assistant athletic director at the ticket office, said the games against DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse sold out and the game against St. John’s on March 5 has almost sold out.

“We’ve been very pleased with our fan support, and in particular the student body this year,” Berlo said. “We always want a full building.”

When filled to capacity, the JACC holds 11,418 people.

“We want as much of a home court advantage as we can have, and we always want to have our student body behind us and with us along the way.”

This season, ticket sales increased from last season, which saw only two sellouts – Villanova and Marquette – according to Berlo. Student ticket booklets came close to selling out this season.

He attributed high sales to coaching and the way that the team plays, as well as its success this season.

“Coach Brey and the team have done a fabulous job of playing … and of course riding a 36 [home] game winning streak,” Berlo said.

Junior Troy Sustich, who has attended nearly every home game this season, agreed that the success of the team does encourage attendance. But, he said, the team itself attracts fans to games.

“I also think that Notre Dame basketball is going to draw a lot [of people] anyway,” he said.

Sustich said he has noticed the size of the crowd increasing throughout the season.

“At the beginning of the year, there are a lot less people there because the opponents are a little lesser,” he said.

Sustich said that now toward the end of the season, with games against Big East teams, there are “a lot more people there and the crowd is a lot more enthusiastic.”

The atmosphere in the Joyce Center has been “pretty electric,” he said.

“We have a great fan base, and even when the team is losing … fans will get real into it and try to bring the team back into it,” Sustich said. He added that Notre Dame fans are “very knowledgeable” about the game and “know what they are talking about.”

Sophomore Tommy DeGregoris, who purchased student tickets and has attended most home games, has also seen the size and liveliness of the fan base grow throughout the season.

“As the season goes on, other than the Marquette game – which was a huge spike – the student section has been getting bigger, but more than that, the energy of the section is getting better and better,” DeGregoris said.

There was a particularly large number of fans at this weekend’s Syracuse game, he said.

“It looked like the student section was sold out, it was pretty much packed, a lot of good energy,” he said.

Both Sustich and DeGregoris enjoyed being part of the enthusiastic crowd at games last year, but agreed that this year’s crowd is even better.

“I’d say the energy level is even a little bit bigger than last year,” DeGregoris said.

He added that last season was a great season to build on, as the team posted home wins over Villanova, Providence, DePaul and Marquette.

“I don’t think [the crowd’s energy] ever dropped off from [from last year to this year],” DeGregoris said. “I think it’s getting bigger pretty much every game.”

Berlo said the student section plays an important role at home games.

“Students contribute a lot of energy and excitement to the games,” he said. “I know our season ticket holders appreciate and enjoy that.

“Everyone prefers it when the students are here for our games.”