BU Hoops Blog

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Will the Chambers plan work?

Coach Pat Chambers came to BU and saw a deficit of enthusiasm. And judging by the way he's handled his first few months, he's making it priority #1 to change that.

The apathetic aura surrounding BU basketball is a long-known and often-lamented fact around campus. Sure there are die-hards. But there are also box scores that show no hope of getting attendance figures out of the triple-digits. And national blogs writing about how the published figure was 276, but the in-person count was merely 147.

I don't plan on doing this all season long, but contrast the efforts of our former coach with our new one. I am one who thought Dennis Wolff was a good coach, but his outreach efforts to the student fan base consisted of a 3 minute speech at Midnight Madness. Then get out of the way and let the sports marketing department struggle to push the boulder up the mountain.

Chambers has a plan. A plan that will require a lot of time and effort, but and one he has already begun to embrace. And it's one that says get out of the way sports marketing department, I'll handle this one.

1. He started a blog. And it's not like the "The BU Blog" on the Athletic Dept website, which despite the fact that it's got good info and shows they're trying, still sounds press release-y. No, Coach's blog is obviously written by him. His "Chambers Vision" videos are awesomely hand-filmed by himself. The whole thing gives BU fans who are hungry for more to read about the team (and yeah, there's a couple of us like that). Frankly, that's why we started this blog. Does that make our blog obsolete? Don't answer that.

Go read Coach Chambers' blog: http://coachpatchambers.blogspot.com/

2. He's twittering. Like you, I thought twitter was retarded. Then Coach Chambers came on there and started spilling nuggets about recruits coming on campus and all the other good stuff I want to know about, and it forced me to check it out. And then I grudgingly admitted that there was some other cool stuff on there, so I signed up. Gratuitous pimp: Follow me here if you're so inclined - it's not all BU hoops stuff, but some of it will be - and once the season starts, look out.

Oh, and go read Coach Chambers' twittering: http://twitter.com/Coach_Chambers

3. He's going out and meeting regular students. People just like you and me! He's just going up to people and talking to them. He's going to talk to student groups and wander around the dorms. And, in a very smart move, he's trying to snag them during orientation, before they can be poisoned by the hockey-industrial complex. Does anyone remember the BU Soccer Tailgate on the first day of school last year? They just herded all the freshmen to that thing and ended up with 5,000 fans, which is just amazing.

4. He's sending PLAYERS out to meet regular students. This is something I thought they should do forever. A lot of the fans who come to the games are there because they're friends with some players and they want to support them. I started coming to some games during my sophomore year, but I didn't become a die-hard until I worked with some of the players over the summer. After that, it was cool to see guys I was friends with out there on the court.

The players need to be ambassadors for the program. I understand that they are just college kids, and they are probably a little shy to just go up to random people all the time, especially if you are freakishly tall. I would probably have a tough time with that too. But it would go so far to walk around the lunchroom at Myles or Warren and show everyone that they're students just like them. I imagine it's a lot harder for someone to blow off the basketball game if the day before Tyler Morris asked you point blank if you'd come watch him.

5. He wants to play all our home games at The Greek. Coach thinks it helps build a big-time atmosphere around the program (and probably would help attract better recruits). It's definitely a topic of contention, and has been discussed at length here and elsewhere. Are those in favor of home games at The Roof swayed at all by Coach's plans? Do you want to see evidence that his plan is working first, and then move games to Agganis? It's kind of a chicken-and-egg scenario. I am on record as being pro-Agganis though.

So that's Coach's plan as I understand it. I'm optimistic.

Here's one piece of advice I'd offer: when targeting students in the dining halls and dorms to recruit to games, go after girls. Don't just forget about them because we think of guys as more traditional basketball fans. Make them the priority. Since stereotypes are such a good time-saver, remember that girls are more willing to try new things, they make personal connections better, they are unfailingly loyal to friends, they find basketball players hot, and wherever girls go -- guys will follow.

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At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last piece of advice is genius, and totally common sense combined. I hope that Coach takes you up on it.

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great ideas, man really good stuff. You do great work with this blog, and the avoiding stereotypes was a great thing to point out. I'm eager to get back to campus so I can meet Chambers and some of the players. And having written that pro-Agganis piece, I'm stoked for games in the Greek next year. They seemed sterile last year, but with an enthusiastic figurehead for the program, attendance can hopefully rise. No more games in The Roof though- my high school gym's bigger than that place

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two great updates, Tall-boy!
Please don't leave us hanging for so long. This blog is great, when updated regularly.
Your efforts are much appreciated by those who care about BU basketball, and by future readers who hopefully will join the few, and make us proud.

At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Andy Sharon said...

Attendance numbers being 276 is inaccurate. Next time you write a blog, please be factual.

Lack of attendance has nothing to do with student apathy. You really don't know what you are talking about. Students don't come to the hoops games because they are playing America East teams like Albany, Stony Brook and Hartford. Who wants to see those teams in a high school gym?

Bring in Duke or UCLA and you fill the Greek easily. It is more about the level of competition than anything else. The students aren't apathetic about BU basketball. They are apathetic about America East basketball. BU needs to get into a better conference.

BU basketball once played Michigan in a sold out Boston Garden. So much for your apathy theory. They packed Walter Brown Arena for Duke and UMASS back to back. Students were paying $50 from scalpers.

Seriously, how much would you pay a scalper to see New Hampshire???

At 6:48 PM, Blogger The Hot Dog said...

Sharon -

It doesn't make you look very good to visit this BU basketball blog, read a very well written article by a BU basketball fanatic and then proclaim this writer has no idea what he is talking about.

The problem isn't the America East. Binghamton has consistent sell-outs in their Events Center against all the AE teams. BU's most attended game last season was against GW, not a UCLA or Duke. When the team started losing games after games all the way up to conference play the attendance began to suffer.

You clearly don't know what the hell you're saying. It's not easy to get a UCLA or a Duke to come play at BU. Look at their non-conference schedules. They hardly play road games unless it's a tournament. And it's even harder to jump to a bigger conference when the attendance numbers at BU are what they are.

Also, please provide a box score or some evidence that BU played Michigan in a sold out Boston Garden. It clearly wasn't while Dennis Wolff was running the show at BU.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger The Hot Dog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger The Hot Dog said...

Sharon -


The only time your outrageous claim would've been possible would be 20 years ago.

My god. Get a clue.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Michigan game at the old Boston Garden was during the Mike Jarvis era.
I was there and remember a very good crowd, 10,000+, but not a sellout.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Scott said...

Was at Michigan game in Fall of 89. Michigan was defending national champs and brought Boston native Rumeal Robinson. BU lost by 8 - great game for them. Not a sellout but close, although many seemed to be there to see Rumeal.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Tall-boy said...

Andy -

The attendance figure for that game (Hartford @ BU, Jan. 6, 2005) was 276. It was published in the box score on the BU web site.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Little Mike said...

HD -

In all due respect, Sharon has a valid point. Binghamton students have nothing else to do. BU basketball must compete for students against the Red Sox, Celtics, big name concerts etc. It is a totally different situation.

Get BU in the Big East or ACC like BC and Agganis will sell out just like Conte Forum. Put BC in the America East and see how many students/alum show up at Chestnut Hill for games.

At 1:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BU needs to get out of America Least.
The Big East and A-10 have no Boston presence, which must hurt TV ratings and media attention.
The Big East isn't going to happen, and with its glut of teams from all over the place, anyone new could get lost like a South Florida (Big East, is it even a real school?).
The A-10 is realistic, and while it is not the Big East from top to bottom, it is a solid league with decent media attention and the possibility of having some good draws in Boston (URI, Temple, Xavier, St. Joe's, GW and anyone else doing well).
America Least, sadly, is minor league. Not in organization, but in the sports pedigree of its members.

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen the BU to the Big East thing brought up before, and all in all, it's not a very well thought out proposition- not gonna happen. And South Florida is in the Big East for a reason. The school's located in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market (one of the 10-15 largest in the country), and aside from Florida, it is the second biggest school in that state. If anyone should be taken out of the Big East, it should be a place like Seton Hall or Providence.

The A-10 would be a perfect match for BU, but the fact remains that the A-10 has 14 teams already, so unless some conference realignment gets underway, BU's best chance to get out of the AEC would be the Colonial Athletic Assoc. or the Patriot League

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but low attendance is just a product of America East. If the team ran the table on its out of conference schedule then they might (and its a big might) sell out conference games at Agannis. Otherwise, its either the A-10 or Big East. There are no other choices. If you are going to make the push to switch. If you are going to put that kind of effort in i.e. changing conferences, then you might as well do whatever it takes to go to the Big East. They are in a tough spot. If Pat Chambers gets all games moved to Agannis and they are selling out and still in AE then he is a miracle worker.

85 Alum

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Andy Sharon said...

Student apathy is not the problem. Every single time over the past 20+ years a big name/quality opponent comes into town to face the Terriers (Duke, Maryland, UCONN, Michigan, UMASS) the students were in attendance.

They filled Walter Brown Arena and they would fill Agganis. When BU was in the NCAA tournament over the years, many fans traveled and the BU section was nicely represented. Wolff never brought in many quality opponents. I am not sure why.

I am certain Coach Chambers will change that and Agganis will be sold out to the tune of 7,000 apathetic BU students and alumni.

At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only way that BU can sell out Agganis is for hockey. Oh, and if they bring in a quality, name-opponent in basketball.
If Chambers can bring some excitement and success, it may happen as much for BU as for the opposition.
For now, it would be great to get to a AE final, and interest dictates that it be played at Agganis instead of The Roof.
Longer term, the A-10 seems a good fit. Unfortunately, AE does not bring enough to the table. Don't mean to sound smug, but BU is too big and too prestigious an institution to be slumming in America LEast.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Scott said...

A lot of unrealistic suggestions here.

Marquee opponents i.e. Duke, UCLA, Michigan? Its not easy to get to find a willing big name program to travel across the country to play a low-major school. If you can find one, they usually require the other school to travel to them two or three times before they will play an away game.

Move to the Big East? This is a pipe dream.

Move to the A-10? First of all there has to be room for another program. As someone mentioned, there are fourteen programs in the conference. Assuming there was room, the other schools need to approve of the new member. What makes you think Umass and URI want another local entry? "TV ratings"? First of all, I'm not aware that the A-10 has a national television contract. I'm not sure if the Boston television market is a carrot that BU can dangle. BU doesn't really have a large market share of its own market.

CAA? Are any of the programs who left the America East for the Colonial any better now? Lets see, Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra, Towson - has the CAA propelled any of these schools? No. I don't think a lateral move is going to advance BU either.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger The Hot Dog said...

Scott - you got it all right and summed it up right there.

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BU doesn't need a lateral move. It needs a move to a better league.
Northeastern made a move that made no sense, and BU was smart not to go the Southern Fried Chicken route.
BU should have made an all-court press for the A-10 when they had a chance.
Renewing the rivalry with URI and UMass in basketball would be good for NE hoops, and other sports.
Maybe it is time to look into forming a new league.
There has been talk of two Big Easts -- one for teams with football, one for teams without football. That might be worth pursuing if it ever happens.
Too bad BU doesn't have football anymore, but is a whole other post.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Scott said...

You complain about the America East conference and, in the same post, express regret that BU no longer has a football team. I was there when we had football - it was in the "Yankee Conference" a non-bowl eligible conference. If BU still had its football team, you'd probably whine about how it needs to push to join the Big Ten.

As for basketball, I think for the meantime the program should just focus on winning. If they can put together a string of successful seasons, maybe some of some of these opportunities might present themselves - if they don't, they're just going to have to be successful within the confines of the America East. Speaking for myself, I'd be just as happy if they won a first round NCAA game as an AE member, as if they won as an A-10 member

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Little Mike said...

America East is the problem. PERIOD.

Lets compare BU and BC. Both have first class facilites. BU and BC are in Hockey East. Both draw great crowds. BC hoops played in Big East and ACC. They have solid attendance figures. On the other hand, we play in some scrub conference and draw nothing.

Again, How many BC students would go to Conte Forum to watch the Eagles take on New Hampshire, Binghamton and Hartford? Can someone answer that honestly?

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BC basketball is not a big draw when they play mid-major opponents. Only a percentage of their fans are 'Supa fans' that'll go no matter who they are playing.

Comparing fotball and basketball is mixing apples and oranges, Scott.

I'd rather have Yankee Conference football than no football. I'd rather be in the non-scholarship 1-AA Patriot League in football than have no football.
It is about commitment and finances.

There is no reason why BU couldn't make the commitment to go more big time in basketball, especially with Agganis as an option.
BU wouldn't go big time in football with Nickerson, and I'm not so sure people would expect them to.
Georgetown has 1-AA football and big time basketball. I'd certainly take that, plus the big time hockey.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Chambers has a plan to drum up interest. Wolff never had an interest in that, and that is a major reason why he is gone.

I see that Wolff interviewed at Holy Cross. "If you can't beat 'em ..."

Why would the Cross hire him?
They certainly must want more than a competent coach that generates no excitement.
When all is said and done, I think we'll see Dennis Wolff at a D3 school, or maybe D2, if he wants to remain a head coach.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all a rehash of a discussion I had with guys in my dorm back in 1981-82. I was going to games alone. Pitino was having some success. The crowds got a little bigger. A few guys started going with me. The crowds increased from 500+/- to 700-800. Pitino got steamed. He called out the student body in the DFP or something. The next game they drew about 1000 or so to Case. About six of us held up a sheet that said "WE'RE HERE RICK." lol - good times. He laughed and said thanks. Some of the games moved to Walter Brown. We beat a decent Cincinati Bearcats team at WB. That sold out. Man the place was way loud and rockin. Jay Teague - who's dad Jack played for the Bearcats way back when - hit the winning shot. Place went nuts. But the program could never seem to sustain those size crowds. Part of the problem was it is just too difficult to draw thousands when you are playing Holy Cross, Canisius, etc. (league opponents then). Plus the coaching position was just a stepping stone for Pitino and then Mike Jarvis. BTW, Pitino had some real nice players - Gary Plummer was a second round draft choice of Golden State or Denver, Tony Simms was a fifth round draft choice of the Knicks (yes the NBA draft used to have more than two rounds)and played for the Canadian National Team and of course, Arturo Brown RIP, who was too good for our league. So this discussion has been going on for close to 30 years. In my time, we all blamed John Silbur. All the same questions remain with no real answers. Why doesn't the DFP talk to Mike Lynch and squeeze him for some real answers once and for all. If the University is never going to move our of AE then so be it. If they are secretly completely content and would be happy to draw 2000-3000 to Agannis - well ok. I won't be happy but at least I'll know.

85 Alum

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