TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 10: The Arizona Wildcats mascot "Wilber" performs during the college basketball game against the Clemson Tigers at McKale Center on December 10, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers 63-47. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
So this article began in my head as a way to make it more difficult on opposing free throw shooters, but then as I scoured the internet, more idea's popped in my head; as well as some cool things other schools do. So away we go.
The Pac-12 season has already started, but for most UA students, it starts this Thursday versus Oregon State at 6:30, Tucson time. As many fans who have followed Arizona basketball, the 'Zona Zoo' was once grouped with the best student sections in the country. Now however, it's just good.
We can get back to being great, but first we need to know why we have dropped.
A few things attributed to the decrease are mostly tied around one area. That one area is the coaching debacle, which led to more sub-par seasons than anyone would have liked. With the less than Arizona-esque seasons, the casual fans did not attend as many games or weren't as energized. Sadly, from 2007- 2009 the uncertainty regarding the program did not encourage fans to attend games any more, let alone get riled up for them.
Miller is committed, why can't you be?
After the break are some idea's on how to return the 'Zona Zoo' to the top.
First, watch this video of the Utah State student section.
Amazed? I was too.
Now I'm not saying Arizona copies it, but the coordination the student section has is remarkable and is something the 'Zona Zoo' needs more of.
Back to Greatness 101
If Arizona really wants to get back to greatness, the student section needs to be along the baseline. Being up behind the basket can be nice for free throw distractions (see below) but doesn't do much when half the students are in the upper deck. Maybe with the new tv contract and more money coming in, they will realize that the best home court advantage is the students on the baseline.
Lesson 1: The Basics
Sean Miller teaching the 'Zona Zoo' chants and a more in depth explanation below.
Everyone (hopefully) knows this one. It's the "Boing, Boing, Pass, Brick" chant for when the opposing team has the ball.
1) Each dribble = 'Boing' 2) Each Pass = 'Pass' 3) Each shot = 'Brick.' Pretty self explanatory. This chant is only used the first 4 minutes of each half.
Now this one (number 2 in the video) has been non existent for some time now. The crowd counts the number of bounces the free throw shooter takes, then when the shooter collects himself, they yell "breathe," and as he shoots, "brick." This is good, but below I will divulge into what I would like to (crosses fingers) catch on.
This is the "Ooh-Ahh" man. He has been a staple at UA games for as long as I can remember. His appearance can bring back the deadest of crowds and make a boring game exciting.
Another necessary one to know is when an opposing player fouls out, you yell what foot he steps on as he walks to the bench (ie: left, right, left, right...). Then as he is about to sit down you yell "SIT DOWN!"
Does it contribute to the game? Not really, but it's rather entertaining.
Lastly, when the opposing team is being introduced, you MUST turn around and face away from the court. As each player and coach is introduced, you yell "sucks" after the name is called. As much as we try to convince ourselves this has much of an effect on the game, it really doesn't. This is more about pumping up our ego's then anything else (unless one of the opposing players has really low self-esteem).
Lesson 2: Distracting the Free Throw Shooter
This is an interesting article by a scientist, who convinced Mark Cuban to try the writers "grad-school education to help some woebegone franchise shut down opposing free-throw shooters."
It all centers around coordination and unison. The article says that when every person does their own thing, "the brain cancels each [movement] out," or in other words what one would see looking at a fuzzy tv.
However, when the crowd moves as one, it can give the shooter the impression he himself is moving. This can either work side to side, or what I would personally like to see done; up and down. This would/could give the perception that the height of the rim (or just the background) is either dropping or rising, which should/could (hopefully?) increase the likely hood of a missed free throw.
MTV, for whatever reason, compiled a list of crazy distractions. The 3rd one is pretty cool... at least ESPN thought so.
Lesson 3: Show up like every game is versus Duke/UNC/Kentucky (or at least ASU)
In the scheme of basketball, every game is big. A two win week versus a one win week can be the difference between being in the Top 25 and not.
Now I understand, there are some opponents where you could care less about and you won't show up *cough, Valparaiso, cough* but being considered the best doesn't happen from one game, it is consistent effort for a long period of time.
You think the Cameron Crazies ever take days off? I doubt it.
The student section, for any school, is a funny thing when you think about it. The fans get their energy from the team playing. But the team also gets their energy from the students being loud. (And the rest of the fans get their energy from both, but that's a side topic). You see where I am going with this?
It is a perpetual circle, but one that the students have more control of. We don't have a defender covering our mouth's or holding our hands in an attempt to quiet us. We have to be loud for the entire 40 minutes because, let's face it, the retiree's in McKale don't have the stamina to do it for even 5 minutes at a time.
Think of it another way. The 'Zona Zoo' is the heart of the arena. We get everyone else going (ie: pumping blood to the non-student fans and players). When we just stand there "oohing and ahhing," that only helps the opposing team.
If you are a student, forward this to all of your friends, share it on your wall, retweet it ; get the word out!
Hopefully a member of ASUA's Zona Zoo Crew will read this and implement some change to how the student section works to make it feared again. Maybe not for the Oregon schools, but we have 17 days until ESPN Gameday is here.
I doubt there is a better venue, than a national broadcast to show off a new and improved 'Zona Zoo.'
If you have an idea (or just send this article if you approve), here is the Zona Zoo's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other interesting links:
More Utah State, just awesome.
Michigan State's Izzone
Ooh-Ahh Man Interview
Who has the best student section?
Duke (81 votes)
Syracuse (2 votes)
Utah State (25 votes)
Pittsburgh (0 votes)
Michigan State (6 votes)
Arizona (79 votes)
193 total votes