Nearly every team has a motto for the season. Whether it be "All In," "Auburn Fast," or whatever you please, these simple mantras can be a big factor in how a team handles themselves throughout the season. In Bruce Pearl's first season on the Plains, the slogan for Bruce and his Tigers is "Let's Do This Together." And that extends far past just the basketball team.
It's time for all us to join in. More specifically, those of us in The Jungle. Auburn's student section has garnered a good atmosphere for many games over the past few years. But we need to step it up. Saturday, Auburn hosted then 8-2 Xavier, a basketball powerhouse year-in and year-out. With the reputation Auburn basketball has built over the past five years or so, you'd imagine people would look at this game on the schedule and think "meh, we're gonna get destroyed." Doesn't help that it was in the middle of Auburn's Christmas break, so there were no students on-campus that didn't have anything better to do than to just relax and watch an Auburn athletic event. Instead, Auburn sold general admission tickets that included the lower level student section. So what is typically filled with Auburn students was now filled with families and children of all ages. That in itself changes the atmosphere of such games. My skepticism of Saturday night's crowd was quickly altered.
I made the trip back to Auburn from Huntsville for the weekend's game. My younger brother and friend that I graduated high school with, who had never been to Auburn and was a Florida Gator fan (don't hate me, please), made the trip with me. We arrived Friday night and made sure to get my friend Jordan a new Auburn shirt. We arrived at the Auburn Arena just before gates opened at 3:30, made sure to get my usual seat, and grabbed our brand new Bruce Pearl bobbleheads. Bobbleheads are always a great way to get people in the seats, and it certainly helped this weekend.
The student section filled up rather quickly, of course with families that lived in the surrounding areas that could make the trip. If I had to guess, I'd say there was no more than 15 percent of students in the stands. The impressive Christmas break crowd of 7,975, according to the official attendance, were loud and cheered most of the night. Whenever Coach Pearl started pumping his arms to get the crowd loud, they responded. And responded loudly. It certainly never was the loudest moments I've heard in my three years as a student, but overall, all game long, it was probably one of the loudest games I've attended. (And we may have turned a Gator fan into a full-fledged Auburn fan!)
After we made the trip back home Sunday, we watched the replay of the game and I was disappointed that the crowd noise didn't transition very well on the broadcast. But I can tell you it was incredibly loud. And the crowd was a great advantage for the team. They fed off the noise and played their hearts out. When a team, ranked sixth in the nation at free throw percentage, shoots 89 percent from the charity stripe, you need all the help you can get.
And that brings me to my main point. I was honored to be selected to join the Jungle Leadership team, a group of students that are die-hard basketball fans to help make the Jungle even better than it already is. I was a later addition, so I missed the meeting with Coach Pearl. But I still plan to help unify the students and make Auburn a fearsome atmosphere. We are already working on new ideas and continuing some others that we know works. If you happen to have any ideas that could possibly help, please feel free to comment and share them. You can also contact me privately if you wish to do so at my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as my twitter page (@Clintau24).
Let's Do This Together