A “perfect storm” could be brewing for basketball fans Thursday night which would rock Eblen Center. It could mean huge, deafening waves of noise that threaten to sink mighty Murray State.And, Tech students can be the big winners in the stands in addition to the basketball teams on the floor.
“We have many, many things planned for Thursday night, and everything is being especially geared toward Tech’s students,” said Misty Pearson, TTU Director of Corporate Sales. “It should make for a really fun night and two great basketball games.”
Tech’s attendance numbers have been growing in the past few weeks, especially the support of students who have been turning out with high levels of spirit in a quest of cash prizes while supporting the Golden Eagle teams.
The Golden Eagles have responded with some of their best play of the season, including a four-game win streak for the men’s team and a 7-3 home record for the young women’s team.
Murray State, meanwhile, comes to town as the hottest men’s team in the OVC – one of the hottest in the nation. The Racers are currently the only 20-game winner in the league and have won 17 OVC games in a row.
Like the movie that told the tragic tale of several Maine fishermen, those three ingredients could combine to form a “perfect storm” of Golden Eagle support to subdue both Murray State teams when they visit for an OVC doubleheader.
“Our student fans have been sensational the past few weeks,” said men’s head coach Mike Sutton. “There’s no question that they have been the “sixth man” for our team. They have been enthusiastic and noisy, and they’ve really helped create an atmosphere of excitement. Seeing and hearing fans get into the game is one of the best things about college basketball.”
To help add to the excitement, the Athletics Department is hosting two special events that night. Both are national initiatives by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and are supported by the Tech women’s staff and team.
It will be “Pack The House” Night as each women’s team attempts to break its own school attendance record. The largest crowd to watch a Tech women’s game is 6,113 (vs. Middle Tennessee in 1990), so it will take a massive effort from the student body, the Tech community, and the Cookeville area fans to top that mark.
Women’s basketball first-year head coach Sytia Messer has also selected the game against Murray State on Thursday to be Tech’s “Think Pink” Night, an effort to help increase awareness of breast cancer in order to save lives.
“These are all important games for our team right now,” Messer said. “The ‘Pack The House’ promotion is important for our team, and we’re looking forward to a great turnout.
“The other event – ‘Think Pink’ – is so important because raising awareness for the latest developments in breast cancer research and treatment, that’s obviously more important than the game itself,” she said. “The larger the crowd that night, the greater the number of people who will have the opportunity to learn something that could save lives.
“Every one of our players and coaches is excited about the opportunity to play a role in ‘Think Pink’,” Messer said.
Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game in increase visibility of the color associated with finding a cure for the disease. The Golden Eagle players will be wearing pink pregame warm-ups and pink shoelaces.
Every fan into the arena will receive a gift from Chick-fil-A, ranging from free food items to stuffed cows. A special promotion during the game will also allow one TTU student a chance to win free Chick-fil-A meals for a year.
Another Athletics sponsor, US Cellular will pass out free rally towels to fans and also have an on-court promotion for a Tech student.
All promotions throughout the game will be geared toward Tech students, ranging from the Wendy’s Meal or No Meal to Pepsi’s Are You A Rock Star.
There will also be the customary cash drop into the stands plus the popular $250 cash prize for the student group exhibiting the most spirit. Student groups are asked to bring a sign or banner identifying them as a group, and to be in the stands no later than halftime of the women’s game.
At the most recent home games, student groups have made a huge difference in the atmosphere.
One group of male students has come shirtless and painted up, making lots of noise in the seating sections just above the Tech Pep Band. At the Austin Peay game, the students’ many stomachs spelled out “Tennessee Tech University: We’re going to beat the Peay out of you” and at another game, al of them were painted with a “30” and facial hair in tribute to senior Frank Davis as he broke a school record.
Other groups have been just as visible and just as loud in claiming the prize, which is awarded in the final minutes of the men’s contest.
The doors of Eblen Center will be open at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, with the women’s game scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Both games will also be taped by WCTE TV with delayed telecast later that night.
Tech students are admitted free to all regular season home games with a valid TTU ID. For questions regarding Pack The House Night or Think Pink, or for ticket information, contact the Athletics Department at 372-3940.