ALBANY – He wants to win on the court.
ULBani’s first-year men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings also wants to win in the stands.
“When you dream of being a head coach, you don’t dream of the building being half full,” Killings said. “When kids dream of being college basketball players, they don’t dream of the arena being half full.”
Since he was hired in mid-March, the Killings have been vocal about their desire to play Great Dane home games in front of large crowds and within the Capital Territory community to help fuel that change. Are proactive in their efforts to build relationships.
“I’m trying to make sure people are aware and motivated to come into the building because they appreciate [the team] Away doesn’t do much for us,” said Killings, whose team debuts Tuesday at 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena against Tosan. “We need the energy and the people inside the building.”
Of course, fans were not allowed at last season’s games at the SEFCU Arena due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Prior to this, however, huge crowds at SEFCU Arena were not the norm. Inside UAlbany’s 4,538-seat arena – which fans currently require to wear a face mask to enter, according to UAlbany’s pandemic protocols – average Great Danes for five seasons before the 2020-21 campaign Attendance was 2,511.2, according to the NCAA’s database. In the first season of that five seasons the Great Dane attracted an average home crowd of 3,161, one shy of 1,000 compared to the average crowd of 2,162, which saw former head coach Will Brown’s team during the 2019–20 season. .
Time and again, Killings has said that he knows “there is an appetite for college basketball in the Albany area,” and there is proof. The average home attendance for Siena – “other events in town” – allowed fans at games during the past five seasons was 5,970.2. Sienna’s men’s basketball brand has long been strong in the capital area, but the Saints’ crowd is like no other—it’s a mix of hardcore fans and casual people, and it’s made up exclusively of alumni.
“A lot of them,” said Killings, “just like basketball.”
The Killings have made it a point to try to get some of those fans into the SEFCU Arena for a game this season, an objective that doesn’t directly compete with Sienna as the two events play home games. are not determined. Same day at any time in this season. UAlbany’s new head coach has hosted many community events, run camps, reached out to alumni and has been a fixture on the school’s campus. That act was “deliberately done” – one of the Killings’ favorite words – and was the focal point of his first several months as Great Danes head coach.
“The first goal for me was to build program awareness,” Killings said.
“I always tell him all the time, ‘You win in the community — now you have to win on the court,'” said Vic Segels, deputy athletic director at ULBani who is the Great Dane’s men’s basketball game administrator.
UAlbany has a small base of season-ticket holders; As of the end of last week, data Segals provided to The Daily Gazette showed ULBani with 369 season-ticket holders for this season, a figure representing a 70% renewal rate from the 2019-20 season. UAlbany wants to increase that number, but is making a strong effort to get more students into sports than in recent years. The focus is on providing buses to the students from their hostels to the Games and ensuring the students are aware of the attractions and events associated with the Games.
“And we’re hoping with the new coach, the new team, the new energy — that will help bring more kids out there,” Segels said.
“I am hoping that with the work we have done and the efforts of our marketing department, we will find new fans who come into the building for the first time,” Killings said. “I hope a lot of new faces come here and then they will be inspired to keep coming.”
The easiest way to keep people coming back, of course, is to win games for the basketball team and fulfill the Killings’ promise of a flashy, up-tempo style of play. Tuesday’s game against Towson offers his first chance at that – and the Killings know there will be few better opportunities to generate buzz around their team than the Great Dane has an opening-night home game.
“We get a first impression and I want to make it perfect,” Killings said.
“We want to work hard and give energy,” said Ulbani junior Trey Hutchison. “It’s going to be the first time that people see this team, people look at Coach Killings, so we want everyone who comes here to have a great experience, and make sure they know we’re working hard. are doing.”
The Killings have already made sure they have some extra fans in their first match. He said his wife Anna – “the head coach of the house” – told him Monday morning that the number of Killing’s family members and friends who had traveled to the SEFCU Arena had risen to 65.
His hope, however, is that there are more people attending his first UAlbany game on Tuesday night than the portion of the crowd mainly supporting him—and that they’ll be fans of the team’s second home game. are back at the SEFCU Arena for against Harvard on November 17th.
“We want to fix that,” Killings said. “I hope everyone who comes into the building says [they] Want to come back because it was a wonderful experience.”
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: college sports sports