MOUNT PLEASANT - Approximately 750 CMU students filled both sets of baseline bleachers during last week’s men’s basketball exhibition game, and head coach Keno Davis wants to see that number double for the Chippewas’ true home opener Friday night at 7 p.m.
Davis has met with a variety of student groups in the preseason to explain the importance of student involvement and crowd energy in his up-tempo and exciting style of basketball that allowed the Chippewas to go toe-to-toe with Iowa in the season opener Monday.
“We feed off the energy of the crowd to help us with our intensity and to help us to make runs in games,” Davis said. “It also impacts the opposing team’s psyche. The more hostile and more vocal our crowd can be, the more difficult it is for teams to come in and win.”
Davis believes McGuirk Arena can house the best student section in the Mid-American Conference and, in turn, bring championships back to the building.
“From my time in the Missouri Valley we would go to Wichita State and arrive at the arena two hours before the game and their student section would already be packed and chanting at you when you came out of the tunnel,” Davis said. “We can be at that level, but we can’t just wait for the championships to come - we have to build up to that point together.”
Such dedicated and well-attended student sections go hand-in-hand with winning programs at all levels, and Davis wants to foster that culture at Central Michigan.
“When you look at similar-sized programs to us that have had sustained success, like Butler, Creighton, Wichita State and Gonzaga, they all have unbelievable student sections who help them win close games and build on that success.
“I hope we are sold out every single game, every year,” Davis said. “We may not sell out Friday night, but I want to get close. I’d like to see our fan and student support increase every game, and I think we can build an ever-increasing homecourt advantage together.”