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Monday, February 23, 2009

Marty Gagne: "Pittsburgh Sports Fan...Go To Hell...."

My previous post, about the necessity of a slashing two guard in the UConn backcourt, seems a little eerie considering Jerome's injury. However, I don't think its unreasonable to ask Kemba Walker to fill this void. The kid gets into the paint like he's a toddler at an acrylic store.

I already know FWG hates all things Pennsylvania, but let me add to that:

As if losing 'Rome wasn't enough, losing to Pittsburgh leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I hate the city. Here's a list of words and phrases that you will never see in a description of Pittsburgh: fun, cool, trendy, nice weather, scenic, upbeat, lots to do. Moreover, the sports fans are no saving grace. Not only did they exhibit obnoxious behavior at the Patriots-Steelers game at Gillette this year, but my past experience with the city's basketball fans has not been pleasant, either. I can vividly remember distasteful and demeaning comments shouted by their student section two years ago - personal comments that I won't repeat here. Any child raised a Pittsburgh sports fan should be put in foster care.

On the other hand, I love Syracuse fans. Their student section continually displays many of the characteristics necessary for irreproachable crowd participation: cleverness, enthusiasm, competitiveness, and zeal. Year after year, they sustain our intense rivalry in a respectable manner, as opposed to the offensive nature of Pittsburgh fans. Some comments from the Carrier Dome over the years:

"Hey Denham... you've been the same player for four years."
True.

"Hey Gagne... you should be impressed that I know you're name!"
True.

"Hey Ed... how old are you? Forty?"
Almost true.

"Hey 35... do you even have your name on jersey? Or do you just have a question mark?"
Somewhat true.

"Hey walk-on.... the water cooler needs filling up."
Not my job.

"I'd rather be a Syracuse fan than a UConn walk-on."
Whatever helps you sleep at night.

"Hey 35... I bet Calhoun doesn't even know you're name!"
Marty? No. Barfight? Maybe.

Moving on to a separate issue, ESPN is now tracking Hasheem's "altered shots". Traditionally, this occurs when an opposing player compensates for Hasheem's presence by changing his shot attempt. The problem with this statistic is the subjectivity of the measuring standard. Are there two guys in the ESPN trailer arguing over whether it was an altered shot or a killer fade-away?
Here's another case-in-point: During my senior year, while scrimmaging against the scholarship players, Hasheem was injured and sitting out of practice. I remember going up for a wide-open jump shot, only to see a 7-3 monster in the corner of my eye. I thought to myself, "I wonder where he buys socks?" I completely lost focus and bricked the shot off the front iron. Does this constitute an altered shot?

Furthermore, if Hasheem tells an opponent a funny joke, and that opponent is too distracted to make a play on offense, does that constitute an altered shot? In fact, I propose that ESPN should keep track of the crowd's altered shots. I'm sure most would occur on free throw attempts, but a good heckler could probably alter another 5-10 shots per game. A Syracuse fan? Maybe 10-15.

During one game at Gampel Pavilion, Rashad Anderson literally shot the lights out. As he went up for a three-point attempt, the entire arena went dark. ESPN had no choice but to credit the facilities manager with an altered shot.

Jokes aside, every time an opponent takes the court for warmups and marvels at his size, Hasheem has gained a mental edge. This psychological intimidation of opponents, which I believe can provide a six to eight point advantage before the game even begins, can also be obtained through crowd participation and fan intensity. While the UConn student section is formidable, opposing teams are given the luxury of warming up at the distant basket. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have the opposite orientation, which allows for plenty of pre-game heckling. But all things considered, teams must gaze into our student section while shooting free throws during the second half. It all depends how you look at it.

Some of the best fans that I had the opportunity to witness were at Indiana University. Nowhere in the country do fans alter their appearance for a basketball game like they do in Indiana (sorry, Dale). Imagine the intimidation factor when you enter an arena and see people dressed as gorillas, Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars troopers. But I suppose if I lived in Indiana, I would probably want to escape reality as much as possible, too.

After all, it's one step up from Pittsburgh.

Marty Gagne graduated from the University of Connectcicut in 2007, after playing four seasons on the
Men's Hoops Team.
He hails from Vernon, CT.


3 comments:

MG213 said...

stinkin $hit's-burgh... i hope we stomp them in there place. Where do you see Stanley "Sticks" Robinson filling in. And I know you said with Dyson out, we need Kemba to step up, but who could have a bigger impact in March, Walker for Robinson?

allisonko said...

$hit's-burgh! Har har!

Interesting punctuation you used there. A "$" symbol used in place of an S... very clever! And a hyphen for something that is not a compound phrase. And to top it all off, an apostrophe for something that is not a possessive noun!

Woo, you're a smart one.


And, Fattie, I'm raising my very bright son to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. Just wanted you to know that.

Michael said...

$MG$, have my children... great article