Fan support increases as Hoosiers try to stop skid
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- It has been 56 days, 11 games and 445 minutes on the floor since Indiana University won a men's basketball game.
Still, support grows.
Each of the past three home games has produced the largest crowd of the season. Saturday, 17,202 fans attended the Ohio State game, just 155 shy of capacity.
Coach Tom Crean is relying on that support tonight against Iowa (12-10, 2-7 Big Ten), as the Hoosiers (5-15, 0-8) try to avoid setting the longest losing streak in school history.
"There can't be fan support that would be duplicated like this in a situation like ours," Crean said after Saturday's loss to the Buckeyes. "I can't imagine that anywhere in America. I hope that all of our fans understand that when we lose and we don't get it done, we are as disappointed for them as we are for us."
While IU fans have endured plenty this season, especially during the current 11-game skid, history has shown fans of other prominent programs have stood by their teams through tough times.
When Kentucky slumped to 13-19 season in 1988-89, the Wildcats still averaged nearly 22,000 fans. When Duke went 13-18, including 2-14 in conference play, in the 1994-95 season, the Blue Devils still sold out Cameron Indoor Stadium with 9,314 fans per game. UCLA saw a drop of about 1,700 fans per game when it finished 10-19 in 2002-03.
North Carolina suffered at the gate when it finished 8-20 in 2001-02. The Tar Heels averaged 17,392 fans that season, almost 3,500 fewer fans than the year before. This season, IU's 10-game home average is 13,901, almost 3,000 fewer than last year.
The average the past three games, however, has been 16,456.
Former IU basketball player Adam Ahlfeld, who completed his eligibility last season, said he has been impressed with the recent support.
"I think the $5 balcony seats have helped, but I think even more than that we've just been playing a lot better lately," Ahlfeld said.
IU athletic director Fred Glass said Crean's attitude and the team's effort makes it easier to support.
"When you play as hard as they play, and coach as hard as Tom (Crean) and his staff coach, I think people will respond in a positive fashion,'' Glass said. "We're very pleased with the way our fans are supporting our team right now."