Game #9-044: Southern Wesleyan at Furman PaladinsNovember 13, 2012 8:00 pm
For this Tuesday night at Furman, you could buy a ticket for both a women's basketball game and a men's basketball game for $10. That is a pretty good deal, since a doubleheader at the Citadel cost $20 last week.
At some mid-majors like College of Charleston, a single game almost always costs more than that as well. Oh, and one more thing, Furman has the cheapest concessions in all of sports: everything is free!
Furman's location away from the interstates on the north side of Greenville is out of the way for most fans. And Furman is a school that like many others in the SoCon cares most about football and baseball. The Paladins have to do something to boost basketball attendance. And so tonight both basketball teams were playing for a $10 ticket with free food. This setup seemed to make the basketball games like a double feature in a show. And Timmons Arena is best designed for shows. The arena is designed as a multi-purpose facility to accommodate special shows, and as a result the seats behind the benches and scorers' table are too far from the court. On the other side of Timmons Arena, the seats are too far away from the entrance and main lobby where the food is. So Furman has to put on a good show to get crowds for basketball.
The men's game was not particularly exciting: it was a contest against Southern Wesleyan, a NAIA team from about 30 minutes west of Greenville. Southern Wesleyan is regionally known for its non-traditional student education at its satellite locations. But the main SWU campus in the small town of Central and its basketball team are not well known at all. I would not have likely considered this game except for the free food and that the Furman women were playing my school in High Point. And I probably wouldn't have driven 150 miles each direction to see the High Point women's basketball team either, if not for the free food and that there was a men's game afterwards.
Getting a women's game and a men's game for one ticket usually only happens below the Red Line. It is even more common below the Black Line, where a very high percentage of conference matchups are doubleheader pairings featuring both the men's and women's teams. And in high school these doubleheaders make up virtually all games on the schedule with the exception of multi-team events and postseason games. Often fans do not even know or care that they could get an extra game with the women's game. When I was in high school, my school's conference briefly experimented with having the first game of the doubleheader being a boys' game to be followed by the girls. But this backfired in getting interest in girls' basketball, as all the fans walked out of the gym while the girls were in warmups. To get fans interested in the women's game that starts early is a challenge. And while the men are naturally better at playing an athletic game, the women are at the same high level for their gender. I generally root for all High Point teams with the same passion regardless of gender. Each team is representing HPU equally.
Furman is only 20 miles shorter than it would be going to see High Point play at home. But it would be nice to see a women's game and a men's game without having to worry about high concession prices, and that way I could save money on food. I arrived at Timmons Arena 30 minutes before the start of the women's game, and took back a hamburger, a slice of pizza, chips, and a drink to my seat. I decided to sit opposite the benches and not sit behind ours due to better visibility of the court on the other side. Once the game started, then it became tense watching High Point play an evenly matched team. And like watching your team on the road
is often, it was frustrating. The HPU women held a slight lead most of the game, but could never pull away. High Point used their size advantage early before foul trouble hurt the HPU frontcourt. The Panther women were adapting to their third coach in three years, and they were making too many mistakes on defense. Defenders played too high on the ball handlers of Furman, allowing for Paladin penetration. As I mentioned last year, trying to create defensive pressure on the road can kill you through fouls. And it was extremely frustrating to watch as three High Point women fouled out in the final minute trying to protect a two point lead. The free throws from these fouls would instead give Furman a two point win.
As a result, I found the men's game much more enjoyable. The men's game was not particularly that exciting or interesting, but it was a good relaxing environment where I did not have to worry about how my team would fare. Dating back to when I was at High Point and sometimes drove to games at UNC Greensboro, I have often found sporting events more enjoyable when I am not following a team. It becomes easier to then enjoy the game of basketball for what it is.
The free food here was not able to overcome the difficulties in selling a November game against a NAIA team to the public. The crowd size was no bigger than your average high school game. As a result, you could sit anywhere you pretty much wanted like with the women's game even though this was not technically the case for the men's game. Furman came in having been trounced at home a few days prior by Columbia of the Ivy League. While Southern Wesleyan is a respectable NAIA program that isn't on the decline as St. Andrews is
, Furman was looking at an easy win most likely. Yet early into the game, this was the score!
But aside from that Furman got off to a good start, and gradually built their lead to about 20 points with a few minutes left in the half. But the Warriors of Southern Wesleyan weren't to be taken lightly. SWU went on a run at the end of the half to cut the lead back to 13 at halftime, and briefly had the Paladin lead cut to 11 early in the second half. Southern Wesleyan even got a few highlights to impress their small crowd that came with them such as with this #omgdunx.
But Furman would push their lead back to around 20 again with 15 minutes to play, and held even mostly after that. Furman led by as many as 25 with two minutes left before the Warriors scored the last six points to make the final score Furman 90-71. It was a good night for Paladin fans as Furman won both games.
at FURMAN 90, SOUTHERN WESLEYAN 71
Seeing two basketball games for the price of one is a good deal. Seeing two basketball games with complimentary food for the price of one is even better. Too often many mid-majors these days are trying to compete in the college basketball arms race alongside their counterparts above the Red Line. But Furman is able to put together a fan friendly package that works well even with their basketball team often struggling in recent years. The hope is that this is what will help get Furman fans to pay attention to basketball. And once Furman builds a loyal following, they can be successful. This is ultimately what schools in Our Game should strive for. Of course, you then need more cleanup after the game! This last picture is from the front two rows of the Furman student section after the game.
FURMAN 1-1 (0-0) -- S. Croone 2-5 5-7 9; C. Reddick 4-8 5-6 14; B. Irwin 5-9 3-4 14; C. Reddick 7-10 2-3 16; B. Austin 1-3 0-0 2; L. Wideman 5-7 4-4 18; K. Ferrara 2-8 0-4 4; K. Belfield 3-6 0-0 9; D. Brown 1-1 0-0 2; K. Chuisseu 1-1 0-0 2; A. O'Neill 0-1 0-0 0; T. Bisack 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 19-28 90.
Three-point goals: - , FURM 9-20 (B. Austin 0-2; B. Irwin 1-3; C. Reddick 1-3; A. O'Neill 0-1; K. Belfield 3-4; S. Croone 0-1; L. Wideman 4-6); Rebounds: , FURM 29 (B. Irwin 7); Assists: , FURM 23 (S. Croone 14); Total Fouls -- , FURM 19; Fouled Out: -; FURM-B. Irwin.