UCI Basketball is Greater than Laker Basketball. Here are 6 Reasons Why
For how many NBA fans and ARC basketball players there are at UC Irvine, Anteater basketball should be a sell out every night.
UCI basketball may never be that Top 40 pop band that everyone knows because of their radio-tailored hooks and sex appeal. Programs like UCLA and Duke get all the attention and big crowds because of their one and done NBA recruits and large arenas. Being a fan at those schools is a near requirement, as students simply bandwagon on to the tradition and history. College basketball games are big things to do on campus, and no one wants to miss out.
At UCI, due to our relative program youth, we don’t have the big name conference or top recruits. We’re more like that lesser known Indie band that only has a small cult following. If expanding your horizons and getting into lesser known things before they make it big does not appeal to you, maybe the following list of reasons will change your mind anyway.
Without further ado, 6 Reasons to Attend UCI Basketball Games
1. The Bren Events Center
Most of us don’t appreciate the Bren because it’s all we’ve known, but in comparison to most Big West Arenas, the Bren is top notch. Less than 30 years old and renovated multiple times, the Bren has excellent sightlines, general cleanliness, and an intimate seating plan. It is light years better than gyms at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge, which are basically high school venues. The Bren holds a healthy 5,000, with almost all seats with backs, while the Matadome of Northridge does not even seat 2,000, and that’s with bleachers.
2. The College Fan Atmosphere
This is something that is unique to college basketball and nowhere else to be found. In the NBA, there is no student section on their feet, cheering and chanting, with everyone wearing the same shirt. This gets even better during Big West Tournament time, when spirited student sections represent both sides, and the two student fan bases battle it out to show the most support to their respective schools. The more people that come out to games, the better the atmosphere.
For freshmen without a car, the Bren is literally a five-minute walk from Mesa. Take advantage of it!
3. The UCI Anteater Band
Although lacking the numbers of a Big 12 football marching band, the UCI pep band has just as much passion, spirit and dedication to their school. The quirky humor and ardent distracting of the other team’s free throw shooters is entertaining in itself. Examples: Holding up the laughing dog from Duck Hunt in last year’s match against the University of Oregon every time the Ducks made a turnover or missed an easy shot. Also, holding up neon green posters with black dots and moving them in synchronized fashion to distract opponent free throw shooters. And best of all, the entire band directing their horns towards the visiting team’s bench during timeouts, making it noisier for the coach trying to instruct his players. Classic.
4. UCI Spirit Squad
Miss the traditional cheerleading squad that comes with a football team? No problem, UCI brings the cheerleaders. Prefer dance routines over cheers? There’s a dance squad that performs at half time as well. Together, the UCI Spirit Squad brings the perfect flash of elegance in the midst of the raucousness and roar of basketball.
5. Intimate Live Basketball
I’d rather watch a UCI basketball game live than a NBA game on TV. Not only do you get to enjoy the perks of live basketball such as jeering the refs, and the aforementioned strengths, but there is something different about college basketball, period. These players may not have the talent or flashy dunks like NBA players, but they play with heart and intensity. They’re playing for the names on the front of their jersey, not the names on the back. This is especially true at UCI, where all of our players were deemed not good enough for major conference teams. Guys like 6-5 Eric Wise, who guarded 7-2 Luke Nevill of the University of Utah last year, who may play below the rim, but gets the job done. UCI basketball represents a scrappy bunch that plays with a chip on their shoulders. Every once in a while, David does beat Goliath like in 2005, when UCI beat No. 13 ranked Stanford. This leads up to the sixth and perhaps best reason.
6. Be there to witness history
Despite prodigious talent like Kevin Magee (two-time All-American in the early 80’s) and Scott Brooks (10-year NBA veteran and current head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder), the UCI men’s basketball program has never made it to the NCAA Tournament. Being in a mid-major conference, at-large bids are near impossible, and winning the Big West Tournament for an automatic bid has managed to just elude the Anteaters’ grasp in years past. However, this year very well could be the year.
When the lesser known indie band finally gets some widespread recognition, you’ll be proud to have been a fan all along, and storming the court will be that much sweeter.