With fan support dwindling, Iowa City locals remain cautiously optimistic as their hometown Hawkeyes (15-16 overall) square off against the Michigan Wolverines (19-12) at 1:30 p.m. today in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
“I haven’t had a whole lot of time to follow this season but in the past I was a huge fan. I’ve caught a few games on the radio this year,” Iowa City local Bill Pitzen said. “But I do hope we can get a win today.”
The recent emergence of Iowa’s sophomore guard Jake Kelly gives one University of Iowa junior a glimpse of hope even though he hasn’t followed as closely this season.
“Last year I went to a lot of games but this year I have stuck to watching them on television,” Greg Pressling said. “I have been impressed with the play of Kelly lately. With Kelly playing like he has I think we always have a chance, especially since we’ve already beaten Michigan once this year. But, beyond that first game I don’t see us advancing much further.”
The men’s basketball fan support has been in decline in recent years due to many factors including: a coaching change, style of play, and the lack of a marquee player.
“In the past I’ve had season tickets, but yet, I haven’t been to a game this season,” University of Iowa senior Nick Comptom said. “When I get out of class I will try to catch some of the game and be rooting for Iowa to pull out a win.”
During 2008-2009 season, Iowa has had to turn to special promotions in order to fill the seats. Such gimmicks included free admission to the January 29th game against Michigan State and reduced admission to most home games.
“I’ve always followed Iowa basketball closely, and I went to a lot of games in the past,” Iowa senior Blake Friis said. “This season I probably wouldn’t have gone to as many games if the tickets weren’t 10 dollars.”
Friis does think the Hawks can pull out a win today thanks to their streaky outside shooting.
The winner of today’s match-up will meet the number two seed Illinois (23-8) in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Photo courtesy of espn.com