MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The announced crowd of 4,814 at the WVU Coliseum left more than 9,000 empty seats for Thursday night’s drubbing of Georgia Southern.
Perhaps the student section was less populated because of kids getting a jump on the Thanksgiving break. Maybe other fans stayed away because the opponent was, after all, Georgia Southern.
And some fans might still need convincing this West Virginia team is actually an improved version of last season’s 13-19 squad.
“I don’t blame the fans—we had a terrible year,” said junior guard Gary Browne after WVU rolled to a 101-68 victory. “I don’t blame them for nothing. Those that came, I appreciate it a lot, but we really don’t think about that. We think about winning games.”
West Virginia twice drew fewer than 5,000 fans last season—with 4,982 showing for a nonleague game against Oakland last Dec. 19 and only 4,966 on hand for an “ESPN Big Monday” 9 p.m. tipoff vs. Texas on Feb. 4.
Attendance for this season’s opener against Mount Saint Mary’s was 8,336 (staged the night before the Texas football game) and a crowd of 6,038 showed for last Sunday’s win over Duquesne.
Bob Huggins wasn’t ranting about Thursday night’s low turnout, the smallest home crowd of his seven-year tenure at WVU. But when a reporter broached the topic, Huggins dismissed the excuse fans shouldn’t care to watch WVU face a mid-major opponent.
“We have this notion of what great fans we are—well, great fans come all the time,” the coach said. “Great fans come to see their team, they don’t come to see the other team.